Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Cuban Dance Party: Routes of Rhythm, Volume 2 [Rounder, 1990]
Though the companion A Carnival of Cuban Music is half field recording, Rounder's folkloric bias finally does a pop compilation some good. Most of the seven bands on this live tour of vintage Cuban dance rhythms date to before Fidel; one features an 82-year-old trumpeter, another a 92-year-old bongo player (who takes a solo). And all of them--including the post-Fidel Irakere and Los Van Van, whose signature "Muevete" is the longest and strongest of the three versions I know--thrive on the loose-limbed ethos of the dance-concert contexts. There's space in this music, odd touches--it feels freer than modern dance hits from Trinidad or the Dominican or Cuba itself. Freest of all is the old mambo "Here Come the Millionaires," which is what one group of pre-Fidel dockworkers decided to call themselves when they got jobs. A-