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Nothing But the Truth

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Album Review

The first English-language album in the long and illustrious career of Panamanian salsa superstar Rubén Blades, Nothing But the Truth is a strong effort that, if less than great, is fascinating on several counts. The novelty of hearing Blades sing in English is certainly a big draw. He's a fine vocalist and he has the luxury of working with three of the English language's most eminent tunesmiths: Lou Reed (on the songs "Hopes on Hold," "Letters to the Vatican," and "The Calm Before the Storm"), Elvis Costello ("The Miranda Syndrome" and "Shamed into Love"), and Sting ("I Can't Say"). The one drawback to Blades' singing in English is that it lacks the fluidity of his native language, as each word is enunciated clearly yet a bit too slowly, as if he were reading the lyrics as he sang them. It helps, however, that the songs are topically engaging and generally in tune with their time (El Salvador, AIDS, Oliver North), so the unnaturally slow enunciation is a mixed blessing. Also a mixed blessing is the thoroughly contemporary, synth-heavy production, which screams out "1988!" As for the music, it varies from song to song and, overall, would best be tagged as late-'80s MOR with a Latin lilt. What's perhaps most surprising is the lack of salsa here — "The Miranda Syndrome" and "Chameleons" are as close as this album comes to salsa, and even they're far removed — and the abundance of foregrounded electric guitars (musically, "The Calm Before the Storm" is all blaring electric guitar and larger-than-life drums). Such oddities are a significant part of Nothing But the Truth's appeal, for better and for worse.

Customer Reviews

nothing but the truth

wow--- a twenty two year old album that is just as relevent today (with possible exception of Ollies...) i remember buying this on cassette back in the eighties and it was like finding an old friend again. "The Letter is just as moving as it was then"- "letters to the vatican" as sassy as it was three popes ago.

Blades in english

I have been looking for this CD for years. I love it. As an expert in Blades music I consider this one a jewel

Biography

Born: July 16, 1948 in Panama City, Panama

Genre: Salsa y Tropical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Rubén Blades is one of the most successful vocalists in the history of Panamanian music. A former member of bands led by Ray Barretto and Willie Colón, Blades has continued to influence salsa music with his highly literate, politically tinged lyrics and his modern-minded arrangements, which substitute the usual horn and Latin percussion sections with synthesizers and drum sets. Often referred to as "the Latin Bruce Springsteen," Blades provided a musical voice for the middle class of Central America....
Full Bio
Nothing But the Truth, Rubén Blades
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Pop/Rock, Rock, Brazilian
  • Released: 1988

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