Published Jul 29, 2015It shouldn't be too surprising that five of the 12 selections on The Rough Guide To Latin Disco originate from the Salsoul label. The term ¾ coined by legendary Latin/Soul/Disco visionary Joe Bataan, who is featured on the front cover and has two tracks on the compilation, including his groundbreaking cross-cultural cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle" (re-titled "La Botella") ¾ speaks for itself as a hybrid of salsa (Latin) and soul influences.
Salsoul is, to many, the greatest label of disco's golden age. The Salsoul Orchestra featured the core players of MFSB (the backing group for Gamble & Huff's revolutionary Philadelphia International label), but there was a crucial difference. Free from the more conventional aspects of Gamble & Huff's productions, the orchestra pursued a more rhythmically scintillating direction, evidenced by the funky and upscale "Salsoul Hustle" and "Ritzy Mambo."
And this collection has rhythm and syncopation to spare. Non-Salsoul selections, like the New York Salsa/funk band Yambu's infectious take on Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and Colombian artist Wganda Kenya's cover of Carl Douglas's kitsch classic "Kung Fu Fighting" (re-titled "Combate A Kung Fu"), are dance floor delights, even if more seasoned devotees of the sound and era will probably wish that the second Bataan selection, "Latin Lover" be supplanted by more historically important sides like 1973's "Aftershower Funk" or his foray into hip-hop with 1979's "Rap-O-Clap-O."
Still, this compilation (which includes four recent cuts by nu-disco artists to demonstrate the genre's continuing influence) is a fine introduction as well as a guaranteed dance floor-filler. Check out this Rough Guide, but beware! One spin and you'll be ready to dance your ass off to the Salsoul Orchestra's Nice N Naasty or Bataan's groundbreaking 1973 Salsoul album, for sure. (World Music Network)