Los Ruffinos- Para Ritmo

Keeping it Latin this week with this record I got for a dollar.  Not sure why I bought it other than to  roll the dice and see what I could come up with.  The title translates to For Rhythm. 3 years of writing this blog and I still struggle spelling that word  (rhythm that is).

Los Ruffinos were from Cuba and appear to be a combination of female and male duos.  Apparently, the group was consisted of Mercedes VillaVerde, her husband Ignacio Ruffino, and their children, Carlos and Julie. On closer inspection of the album cover, the resemblance is uncanny They were popular in the 50’s and faded away around the 70’s.  It looks like they released around a handful of records as well as singles. Julie passed in 1987.  Two years later Mercedes past as well. I am assuming that Ignacio has also passed.

Web Page with a brief history in spanish

I am not sure when this came out.  My guess is the 50’s.  It was released on the Tropical Label.  Pretty standard vocal stuff.  A bit dated but I guess it is alright.  For a record I am sort of less than jazzed about, I actually picked a lot of songs as candidates for a sample.

I liked “Mienteme”, Si Y No”, and “Triana Morena” but ultimately went with “Syboney” as I have posted instrumental versions several times on this blog.

I really can’t say that I liked a bunch of the songs and call this album meh despite being a bit more subdued than I was hoping. Plus after learning their back story, I gained a but more appreciation for the group.  Besides, it was only a buck.  So satisfactory.

Perez Prado- Big Hits by Prado

This record was an absolute steal for $1.00.  The Cuban King of the Mambo’s repertoire speaks for its self on this record.

This record, released by RCA/ Victor in 1960 is a re-imagining of Prado’s big hits, including the iconic “Mambo No 5” and its lesser known cousin “Mambo No 8”.  All the songs have a bit of added spunk from their originals. All and all, really good stuff.

Normally I would not post something that I have already featured on this site but I was taken aback by the version of “Why Wait”.  You can check it out on the earlier post to note the differences.  I also went with “Ruletero”.

Link to earlier post of “Why Wait”

Not much to say on this post as it is my last of the week, but great record.  Top Billing.

Rosemary Clooney & Perez Prado- A Touch of Tabasco

TabascoThis was $4.50. Rosemary Clooney was singer of the 1950’s and probably best remembered today as George Clooney’s aunt.  Perez Prado was a Cuban band leader known as King of the Mambo.  He also wrote “Mambo #5”.73385068_-1_991755a

This album, released in 1959, was Clooney’s first effort for RCA after leaving Columbia and it is her only collaboration with Prado.  Apparently, bottles of tabasco were used from promotion of this album.  Also, the husband of Clooney, Puerto Rican Jose Ferrer, wrote the liner notes. It is said that he helped her with pronunciation on this album as she initially struggled with it.Jose_Ferrer_and_Rosemary_Clooney_in_Deep_In_My_Heart

The album itself is pretty good although I would say that there should be more Prado.  I felt compared to his other works. the music on this album is more subdued.  But that being said, it is still a good album combining Clooney’s cabaret style with Prado’s Cuban rhythms, complete with his trademark arrangements and percussion.DSCN4543

For samples, I went with the swinging, “Mack the Knife” as well as “I Got Plenty O’ Nothing”.  Both really good numbers.

Photo of Perez Prado
Perez Prado

This is a top rated album despite the scant criticism I gave it.

VA- Steel Drum Jamboree

DSCN4458This was $3.20.  I am always looking for that one great steel drum album that I know is out there.dsc_9894-steel-drums-sq-web

This is a collection of various steel drum bands.  According to the cover, these include the Casablanca Steel Band, Brute Force Steel band, the Virgin Island Steel Band and others.  However, there is nothing on the back cover or on the record to indicate who plays what.  There is a brief write up on the make up of steel bands as well as techniques of playing.  This is translated into French, Spanish, and German.  I believe the songs are pretty standard steel drum fare.  “Hold’em Joe” seems to be on most of the steel drum albums I buy.  Sound quality is pretty low as well.  This also seems to be the case for most steel drum albums I buy.DSCN4459

For a sample, I went with one of my favorite numbers, the Cuban “Peanut Vendor”.steel-pan-steel-drums-players-at-the-thames-festival-2012-performance-cyby7f

I was not really impressed with this album and the price was a bit high so I give this a meh.



International Pop Orchestra- ST

DSCN2227This was $1.59.  I was intrigued by what I thought the cover read.  If you look at it, the diagonal glint of light makes it look to read “No Musicians”.  Was this album made electronically or was it made purely by people with no musical ability?  For some reason, my mind fixated on the latter and more absurd conclusion.  The idea of a Music Man-esque record greatly amused me. Well, when I got home, I saw that it was in fact “110 Musicians” and was a bit disappointed despite the fact that 110 musicians made a lot more sense.

The Wyncote label is a budget label known for cheap material and devious knock offs.  I could not find much out about this record, other than it was released in 1964.  It was probably made by a house orchestra on the cheap.

Info on the Wyncote Label


This is basically just standard interpretations of popular melodies.  There is nothing that really grabs you here.  The numbers are nice and have an international flair.  In that vein, I went with “Peanut Vendor” (El Manisero” in Spanish) as a sample.  It is perhaps the most famous Cuban song ever written although “Guantanamera” is close.  It was written by Mosies Simons, recorded in either 1927 or 1928, and considered a Son-Pregon style of music.  Subsequently,  it has been recorded around 160 times or so.21239029-cuba--circa-1966-a-stamp-printed-in-cuba-shows-image-of-the-moises-simons-born-moises-simon-rodrigue

Meh.  My apologize to the orchestra director who took the thankless job of leading a budget recording but there is nothing real great to sink my teeth into here.

The Cuban Group- Cuban Music in Jam Session



This was a dollar.  Why not?  With restrictions lifting, there seems to be a lot of focus now on Cuban culture.

Lonely Planet Guide to Cuba

On that note, I am kicking myself for not taking advantage of a Canadian passport and visiting Cuba before the easing of the travel ban.  Not that I ever had a real strong urge before.  I prefer traveling latitudinal rather than longitudinal.  Also prefer cities rather to tropical climates.  Also,  I like going to Amsterdam.  But that being said, I kind of wish I ventured to the forbidden island before the flood gates open.

This album is a collection of songs done in very interesting arrangements.  As one would expect, there are a good amount of horns and percussion.  Whole lotta guiro. There is also a good amount of keyboards and guitars as well.  Some vocal call outs are present.  There are a lot of nifty songs on this album and there is some variety as well.  Although I am not an expert on Cuban music, it would seem these musicians are taking risky liberties with these songs.  In their case, these risks paid off.  DSCN1165

I was unable (or lazy-take your pick) to find out much about the musicians on the album, who I am assuming are The Cuban Group.  Did not feel much like translating either today.

For a sample, I felt “El Niche”  really ties in everything the album is trying to do well.  Good track with good instrumentation and vocals.  Also, I included “Ay Mama Ines”  because I like how the musicians mashed up Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto with this folk song.

Satisfactory Record.