Lo Último en la Avenida cover

Lo Último en la Avenida

Released

This 1971 album is a one-off in legendary salsa vocalist Ismael Rivera’s career; he had his own band, Los Cachimbos, but chose instead to record with a group led by popular timbalero Kako, and the results are stunning. This is high-energy, hard-charging music, all percussion and horns and pounding piano, and Rivera is driven to ecstatic heights, spitting out streams of syllables at seemingly impossible speed (just try to keep up with him on “El Cumbanchero”). The songs are all short, in the two- to three-minute range, and the lyrics are superficially simple, lacking the spiritual message and political subtext he’d deliver on other albums; “Entierro a la Moda” is the biggest surprise, all about the music he wants played at his funeral, shouting out Tito Puente, Roberto Roena, Willie Colón, Rafael Cortijo and others in the process.

Phil Freeman

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