Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Cumbia [World Music Network, 2015]
That's psychedelic as in organ and wah-wah and Arthur Lee, also as in recorded in the late '60s or whatever that time back there was they're too stoned to Google it, like for instance, well, surf music. The brief notes offer clues--although Colombia was cumbia's base, it was really in Peru and to a lesser extent Mexico that a genuine surf-rock influence weirded up kids' dance music. What the notes don't mention is that cumbia was never as rhythmically complex as Puerto Rican salsa and Peruvian chicha was never as rhythmically complex as Colombian cumbia, rendering the Ventures' automotive vroom-vroom--chart run, well, 1960-1964, plus "Hawaii 5-0" in 1969--a better fit. Just to round things out, some half a dozen modern cumbia outfits toss their sound effects into the bong. Chicha Libre's Arthur Lee cover is definitely a highlight. B+