Willie Colon & Ruben Blades – Siembra (Fania/Código Music 463 950 7078-2, 2010)
Willie Colon & Ruben Blades – Siembra Live (Fania/Código Music 463 950 7077-2, 2010)
One of the essential salsa albums is available again in a special edition format. Siembra is a legendary album that catapulted Panamanian singer and songwriter Rubén Blades to international fame. Produced by salsa giant Willie Colon (trombone and vocals), Siembra was originally released in 1978 album and became a commercial success throughout Latin America. Siembra sold more than four million copies worldwide, which was exceptional for a salsa album. “I wanted to prove that audiences were more intelligent than they were being given credit for,” says Blades.
This special edition of Siembra contains all the songs from the original LP, including salsa classics such as “Pedro Navaja,” “Plástico,” “Buscando Guayaba,” “Dime” and “Siembra.” This is salsa at its best, inspired by Cuban son montuno and guaracha, mambo, Venezuelan rhythms and even a bit of disco at the beginning of the opening title “Plástico”. “Pedro Navaja” comes with a fotonovela, where music meets compelling storytelling and fascinating comic book illustration. Rubén Blades’ lyrics bring a wide array of emotions to the mix: passion and love as well as as socio-political messages of ethnic pride, solidarity and Pan American unity.
One of the great aspects of the Fania reissues is that they always include bonus material. In this case there is an alternate take of “Pedro Navaja,” a studio merengue version of “Ligia Elena” (a song recorded for Siembra but held back for the duo’s subsequent album), a “TV track” instrumental version of “Plástico,” and a ten-minute-plus remix of the title tune by New York based DJ and producer Joaquin “Joe” Claussell.
Coinciding with this special reissue of Siembra, Fania Records has released a previously unheard live concert album with the same material, recorded March 22, 1980 at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. Siembra Live features Ruben Blades with the Willie Colon band, which included “Professor” Joe Torres on piano, Sal Cuevas on bass, and Johnny Almendra on timbales, and four trombones.
The music selection on Siembra Live includes five pieces from Siembra: “Pedro Navaja,” “Plástico,” a stretched-out version of “Buscando Guayaba” that clocks in at 13:14,” “Dime” and “Ojos.” Additional material includes live versions of the classic “Pablo Pueblo” and Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso’s “Plantación Adentro” from the Willie Colón and Rubén Blades album Metiendo Mano.
Siembra is a must have classic by two of salsa’s finest interpreters.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.