Mambo Loco

85191One of the best parts of going to any new city, here or wherever, is finding the record shops, and spending an afternoon having a good nose around the vinyl therein. My trip to Spain this time round was a little disappointing in most of the cities I visited – there were invariably record shops in each place but nothing very special.

Madrid was again the massive exception, with at least five absolutely belting record establishments, where I spent rather too much. My favourite of all of these was a place called Discos Babel, looked after by a very friendly and helpful feller whose English was thankfully better than my Spanish. I remember it from my previous visit to the city and last time, I bought just the one record (Uruguayan beat sensations, The Mockers, as you’re asking). This time the damage was a little heavier.

I’m still investigating the Vainica Doble record I found there, and a couple of other things but currently occupying the (sadly virtual) turntable at our house was this great little compilation from AnalogAfrica, not exactly a crate-diggers bargain, but a scorcher nonetheless…

Aníbal Velásquez y su Conjunto

a3951239925_16Aníbal Velásquez is, I gather, your genuine Colombian living legend, with a 60 year career behind, which began in the 50s. He reached a bit of a peak in the 60s having founded his own conjunto with brothers Juan and Jose, playing what I think of as Cumbia, but seems to have a number of other names to them that know these things. He has a reputation as an innovator and a number of instruments have been revived (or even created) under his auspices. Not least of these, is the accordion itself:

“When I started to play the accordion, the instrument was not very popular – it had not become a main part of Costeño culture, and it was considered a second class instrument – a bit foreign and awkward”

CS388341-01B-BIGSince those days, despite the gradual decline in interest in Cumbia, his own reputation has actually grown, playing in and gradually becoming the star turn in various local and national festivals. His stature even appears to have withstood a 19-year period of self-imposed exile in Venezuela.

The record is a wonderfully jittery one, easily as clangy and shouty as the Aliboria record in the last post, each track parading its own stroppy but catchy rhythm which won’t be denied.

Watch this video about the making of the title track, Mambo Loco:

 

As you can see there’s a right old troop of bangers, tingers and scrapers furiously doing their thing, with the man himself struggling to be heard over the racquet. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s damn hard to sit still.

It’s not all about the rhythm, though, the keys and at times guitar work weave carefully in and out of the rhythms behind them. Velásquez’s muscular finger work is pretty impressive too. I love the sound of the accordion, full stop; partly because it does still sound foreign and awkward (even cheesy at times), but I think the man does have a glorious driving style of his own. By now in his eighties, he’s still something of a local celebrity in Baranquilla and still performs live.

I bet he’s great.

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