Latin music label Fania has released 3 classics of Salsa music. Ismael Miranda’s “En Fa Menor”, Orchestra Harlow’s “Me and My Monkey”, and Ismael Rivera’s “Soy Feliz” are now available again in digital format.
Orchestra Harlow “Me and My Monkey” (1969)
A great Salsa classic album of the Orchestra Harlow collection, this was the 4th recording for Larry Harlow, and his 2nd with Ismael Miranda, following the success of “El Exigente” (1967).
This album solidified the Harlow-Miranda combination, as “El Malecon” immediately became the album’s 1st hit. Ismael Miranda not only brings his singing, but also his pen, as he authors 5 of the 10 songs of the album. Bobby Valentin add 2 more songs.
With songs like “Jovenes del Muelle”, “Ven Rumbero Ven” (Bobby Valentin), and “Amorcito Ven” (Isamel Miranda), the album attracted the attention f the latin music scene during the mid 60’s.
Ismael Miranda “En Fa Menor” (1974)
This recording celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this year, and it’s another Salsa classic. If “Me and My Monkey” was the 2nd album Ismael recorded with Harlow, “En Fa Menor” is the 2nd he recorded as a solo artist.
I dedicated a full blog to this album, and includes an audio clip of my interview with Nelson Gonzalez, who was Ismael Miranda’s tres player in his debut album “Asi Se Compone Un Son”.
You can read “Ismael Miranda: 40 Anos “En Fa Menor” HERE.
Ismael Rivera “Soy Feliz” (1975)
This was one of my favorite Salsa classics recordings of “El Sonero Mayor”, and I’ve been for it’s release in digital format so that I didn’t have to rip it from my old LP collection.
“Soy Feliz” was Ismael Rivera’s 7th album as a solo artist, and was released the same year he released his Christmas album “Feliz Navidad”. To me, Ismael’s band “Los Cachimbos” were at their peak during these years, starting in 1974 with “Traigo de Todo” through 1978 with “Esto Si Es Lo Mio”.
The “green album” as I always call it, was one I liked from the beginning. “Soy Feliz” was the 1st single of this album and I wasn’t all that sold on that song at first because it didn’t have a “coro & soneo”. But the more I heard the song, the more I liked it.
“Las Tumbas” was the other huge hit of this album. A song that describes a metaphor of life in prison, the song resonated with people knowing “Maelo” knew what he was talking about.
But I really liked this albums for the supporting songs. “Parece Que Les Gusta” and “El Son Sonero” are two songs that have very danceable, have great swing, and are kind of funny, where Ismael Rivera makes use of his improvisations skills dancing around the “clave”. “Borinqueneando” and “Los Apuros de Miguel” are another 2 songs that I liked.
A particular distinction of “Soy Feliz” is the use of the electric guitar in the lineup of “Los Cachimbos”, played by Vinnie Bell. In some songs it goes almost unnoticed. In other songs like in “Los Apuros de Miguel” it plays the part of a Cuban tres. And it takes a more rock approach in songs like “Yo No Quiero Que te Enamores”. In his next album, Ismael Rivera would substitute the electric guitar for a Cuban tres.
I’m Expecting More FANIA Releases of Salsa Classics
I’m glad that FANIA released these Salsa classics jewels. There are still more Salsa classics still in the archives of FANIA that have not been released digitally, and I wish FANIA would make them available.
Two examples of FANIA catalog albums that I would like to see re-released digitally are Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz’ “Jammin Live” which includes the hit “La Zafra”, and Orchestra Harlow with Ismael Miranda “Con Mi Viejo Amigo”, a great reunion of Larry Harlow with “En Niño Bonito” after years of separate careers.