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I’m writing about Lalo Rodriguez‘s Salsa album “Simplemente Lalo” for two reasons; the album turns 40 and Lalo needs our support.
For me, “Simplemente Lalo” was his best recording, by far, of his solo career.
Lalo Rodriguez Early Years
Imagine being a junior in high school and being selected to record your very first album with a legend of Latin music like Eddie Palmieri. Lalo moved from Puerto Rico to New York City to record the album and helped figure out the right way to sing one of the album’s best songs (“Un Dia Bonito”). A few months later, the album goes on to win the first Grammy ever won by a Salsa album! That’s some debut!
It turns out that the second album with Palmieri was also nominated for a Grammy.
From there, Lalo decided to leave Palmieri to join another legend of Latin music, Machito Grillo. They recorded the album “Fireworks”, and it too was also nominated for a Grammy.
By now Lalo was 18, had recorded 3 albums, had won one Grammy, and the other 2 albums received Grammy nominations. That’s some start to a career, particularly at a time when Grammy nominations in Salsa music didn’t come as easily as today.
His collaboration with Machito didn’t last long. By then, Lalo must have gotten homesick and decided to move back to Puerto Rico. There he joined La Primerisima of veteran bandleader Tommy Olivencia. However, now that he was back on his home turf, Lalo Rodriguez got the itch to do his own thing.
Producer Frank Ferrer had recently created the record label Tierrazo and was looking for artists to join the label. Lalo was still so young, his mustache was barely visible.
It turns out that the kid from Country Club/Carolina was also a good songwriter. As a 14-year-old, he had written the bolero “Deseo Salvaje“, which he later recorded in “The Sun of Latin Music“. With Machito, he wrote three songs, including the hit “Mi Ritmo Llego“. And with La Primerísima of Tommy Olivencia, he penned three more songs.
Ferrer knew that Lalo could write part of his material. Lalo Rodriguez did not disappoint the Puerto Rican producer and came into the project with five of the eight songs under his arm. All six Salsa songs in “Simplemente Lalo” (1980) were smashing hits. And of the two boleros, the one he wrote, “No Te Importa“, also got good radio airtime.
The album was arranged by Ray Santos, with whom Lalo worked in “Fireworks”, and by Louis Garcia.
It would be wonderful if Lalo would make another album similar in content to “Simplemente Lalo“, with social and positive songs that are needed so much in this time of trap music. It should steer away from Salsa Romantica, but still include romanticism in the form of two or three boleros that he can write and perform so well. Well….we’ll see if that ever happens, but I can still dream!
Support for Lalo Rodriguez
Lalo’s career has been interrupted by various legal and personal problems that seem to have brought him to return to Puerto Rico seeking to regain control of his life and his health.
Lalo is trying very hard to put his life back in order and I believe he could use a little help from his fans.
If each one of us would post a short encouraging message on his Facebook page (HERE), I believe it will help him regain confidence in a positive outcome on his battle. It won’t cost us anything, but it will surely mean a lot to him.
This little gesture would be our payback to Lalo. He has given us numerous songs containing positive messages. One of my favorites is the one he wrote encouraging youngsters to improve themselves by leaving behind the corner and the conga and instead focus more on developing their intellect by studying and working.
In this version of the song “Si No Hay Material“, which he performed live back in 2012, he acknowledges he should have applied some of that advice to his own life. Perhaps, with a little encouragement from us, he finally can.