Demand it on Vinyl: Fania Goes Psychedelic, A 15-song compilation featuring Latin soul and experimental gems

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Much has been documented about the pioneering music that came out of the United States in the 1960s, amidst the social and political strife of the era. Certainly, the times were changing, but the music scene wasn’t just about the Summer of Love, or festivals like Woodstock or Monterey Pop. There was another movement happening in New York, in the heart of “El Barrio.” As younger generations of Latinos and Latinas were growing up, they, too, were rebelling against the establishment—whether that meant questioning their place in American society, experimenting with drugs, or breaking away from the traditions of their parents.

As cultural barriers in the city loosened, and pop culture reigned, young Latin American musicians were exposed to more influences than ever before. They began combining soul, R&B, Afro-Cuban dance rhythms, and English lyrics to make a sound all their own—a craze which became known as boogaloo. Simultaneously, the rising drug culture among ‘60s youth was becoming a heavy influence across all genres, and Latin music was no exception. References to LSD, marijuana and other trappings of psychedelia—whether blatant or subtle—can be heard in many of the Latin soul songs of the era.

To commemorate this unique moment in musical history, Craft Latino is proud to release Fania Goes Psychedelic—a 15-song compilation featuring Latin soul and experimental gems from the legendary Fania catalog. Available now on Spotify, Apple Music, and other major streaming and digital platforms, Fania Goes Psychedelic pays tribute to artists like Ray Barretto, Pete Rodriguez, The Lebron Brothers, and Eddie Palmieri, who made an indelible mark on the counterculture movement of the mid-late ‘60s.

Fania Goes Psychedelic opens fittingly with an instrumental Ray Barretto piece called “Acid,” which is the title track off his 1967 Fania debut—a quintessential album in the boogaloo genre. The innovative conga drummer and bandleader, who burst onto the scene with his 1963 crossover hit, “El Watusi,” was one of the best-known champions of Latin soul. Another cut of his, “Power” (from his 1972 album of the same name), is also featured later in this compilation.

Also of note is The Lebron Brothers Orchestra’s catchy ode to cannabis, “Let’s Get Stoned,” off their 1968 LP, The Brooklyn Bums. A perfect example of boogaloo music, the song combines English lyrics and a melody that feels like it could be off a Motown record, underscored by lively Latin rhythms and horns. The Puerto Rican-born brothers, who were raised in New York, appear once again on the collection with another great track “Summertime Blues.” The band recorded 16 albums for the Cotique label (acquired by Fania in 1971), which was home to some of the finest Latin soul artists of the day. Another Cotique artist—singer, trombonist, and pianist Johnny Colón—is also highlighted in the compilation with his languid song “Boogaloo Blues,” off his 1966 debut LP of the same name. Colón, who would go on to found the East Harlem Music School, sold over three million copies of Boogaloo Blues, helping to popularize the genre.

One of the musicians included in Fania Goes Psychedelic, Harvey Averne, was an employee of the label, as well as a talented producer and recording artist. Averne, a Jewish American who fell in love with Latin music as a young performer in New York, joined Fania in the mid-‘60s. Soon, he was not only helping to run the label, but also producing records for its biggest artists, and releasing his own albums, like 1970’s Brotherhood. The LP includes supremely funky tracks like “Got to Have Brotherhood,” which offers a timely message of solidarity and peace between different ethnic groups.

Pete Rodriguez, often referred to as “The King of Boogaloo,” is spotlighted in this collection with his joyful track “Oh, That’s Nice,” off his 1967 album Oh, That’s Nice (Ay, Qué Bueno!). A pioneer of the movement, the Bronx-born Rodriguez is perhaps best known for his 1967 hit single, “I Like It Like That,” which has been covered, remixed, and sampled throughout the decades following its release. Most recently, the song found a new generation of fans when it was used in the No. 1 single “I Like It” by Cardi B with Bad Bunny and J Balvin.

Another big player featured in Fania Goes Psychedelic is the GRAMMY Award-winning bandleader and pianist Eddie Palmieri, who can be heard on track “Revolt/La Libertad Logico” and was an artist under the storied label, Tico Records (acquired by Fania in 1974). “Revolt/La Libertad Logico” opens one of Palmieri’s most important albums, Vamonos Pa’l Monte. The 1971 LP is notable for its unconventional orchestration, as well as the rebellious character of the music and lyrics. Palmieri was caught up in the political unrest of the time and often reflected his sentiments in his music. In “Revolt/La Libertad Logico,” Palmieri proclaims that freedom is the rational answer and dares anyone to take it away. The track became an anthem for young Puerto Ricans.

“Problemas (Problems),” off Joey Pastrana and his Orchestra’s 1968 LP, Hot Pastrana, is a great slow jam from the timbales master and singer, who regularly sang both in English and Spanish, and became a big crossover artist at the time. Similarly, Jimmy Sabater, landed on some of the biggest crossover hits of the ‘60s, as well as on many sought-after boogaloo and salsa classics, thanks to his two-decade-long role as one of the main vocalists in the Joe Cuba Band. A revered voice in Latin music, Sabater also recorded several solo albums, including 1970’s El Hijo de Teresa, which includes a supremely funky, Latin-tinged cover of Kool and The Gang’s “Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz),” as featured in this collection.

Though the unique Boogaloo craze only lasted through the early ‘70s—politics among more traditional, established Latin bands, local promoters and radio stations effectively ended the experimental genre’s expansion—many of the incredible songs that came out of the scene have been rediscovered over the years, and heavily sampled by generations of DJs and producers. “These seminal works by young Latino artists were inspired by the socio-economic and political landscape around them in New York City and specifically in the ‘barrios’ during this historical time,” says Bruce McIntosh, VP of Latin Catalog for Craft Latino. “These songs help document a moment in time that now, 50 years later, is as relevant and refreshing as ever. I’m proud that Craft Latino can be the steward of these recordings, which are such an important part of American musical history.”

TRACKLIST:
1. Ray Barretto “Acid”
2. The Lebron Brothers Orchestra “Let’s Get Stoned”
3. Johnny Colon and His Orchestra “Boogaloo Blues”
4. The Latin Blues Band Featuring Luis Aviles “Take a Trip”
5. George Guzman “Banana Freak Out”
6. The Harvey Averne Band “Got To Have Brotherhood”
7. Pete Rodriguez “Oh That’s Nice”
8. Orquesta Harlow “Freak Off”
9. Joey Pastrana and his Orchestra “Problems (Problemas)”
10. Eddie Palmieri “Revolt/La Libertad Logico”
11. Ray Barretto “Power”
12. Bobby Valentin “Use it Before You Lose It”
13. The Lebron Brothers Orchestra “Summertime Blues”
14. Jimmy Sabater “Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz)”
15. Flash and the Dynamics “Electric Latin Soul”

About Fania | Considered by many to be “The Motown of Salsa,” Fania Records is the most transcendental label in the history of Latin music. By bringing together the eclectic vision of Dominican bandleader Johnny Pacheco with the business savvy of impresario Jerry Masucci, Fania created its own unique sound: the apex of tropical music, combined with the swing of big band jazz and the gritty vibe of American R&B. The label provided an artistic heaven for a young generation of musicians who were inspired to experiment with new musical formats. The albums recorded by Willie Colón, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, and Eddie Palmieri from the early ’70s to the mid-’80s went beyond the parameters of so-called “salsa”—taking Latin music to unsuspected levels of sophistication

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