Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Los Van Van: Best of Los Van Van [Milan, 1997]
Catchy, simplistic, ramming home the clave, not shy of syndrums or syn-anything else, Los Van Van are the class of Castro-era Cuban pop. I still prefer Mango's rerecorded Songo, where four of the great hits here got richer, longer, and an elegant touch slower. But these cheesy '70s originals are the golden oldies of underdevelopment. Sometimes their high spirits seem forced, and sometimes their forced quality seems a mark of distinction, like the ingrown musical resources Juan Formell and his comrades had no choice but to make something new of. A-