Top 5 latin boogaloo albums

This week, Mark embarks on a journey of musical discovery, with Oliver Wang, co-host of the Heat Rocks podcast. If you’re not familiar with latin boogaloo, it’s time to get acquainted.

Oliver loves this fusion of more traditional latin melodies — with complex chords and meandering melodies — and the growing soul music movement, prevalent in 1960s New York, not just because of its inherently physical nature — this stuff just makes you wanna move — but because of what it teaches us about the culture at the time.

Just as a previous generation of immigrants embarked on a cultural exchange with the US and established themselves as the kings and queens of mambo and cha-cha-cha, so a new wave of second-generation American-raised Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans (to name a few) brought their musical heritage and mashed it up with the popular doo-wop and early R&B styles of the day.

Latin boogaloo wasn’t a lauded genre by purists, who saw it as a bit of a debasement of the complex and intricate style they were used to. It’s a story as old as time.

  • (00:00) - Introduction
  • (06:10) - Bubble-gum boogaloo
  • (15:20) - Heat Rocks
  • (19:14) - Oliver’s pick: Gypsy Woman, by Joe Bataan
  • (23:00) - Mark’s pick: Ali Baba, by Louie Ramirez
  • (26:34) - Oliver’s pick: I Like it Like That, by Pete Rodríguez
  • (27:20) - Oliver’s pick: Wanted Dead or Alive, by the Joe Cuba Sextette
  • (29:40) - Mark’s pick: Watermelon Man!, by Mongo Santamaria
  • (33:08) - Oliver’s pick: Acid, by Ray Barretto
  • (37:18) - Mark’s pick: Laberinto de Pasiones, by La Lupe
  • (40:50) - Oliver’s pick: My Latin Soul, by Bobby Matos and the Combo Conquistadores
  • (43:22) - Mark’s pick: At the Party, by Hector Rivera
  • (45:16) - Honourable mentions
  • (47:34) - Building the final list
  • (49:32) - More honourable mentions
  • (52:20) - Goodbyes

To follow our Spotify playlist, full of all the songs we mention, sign up to Extra Envy, our free newsletter. It’s the perfect antidote to the encroaching autumn (the playlist, not the newsletter).

As we recorded, Heat Rocks, the podcast he hosts with music supervisor Morgan Rhodes, was celebrating their 100th episode. You can, and absolutely should, check it out. You can follow Oliver on Twitter and on Instagram, and read his long-running music blog. All of his links can also be found on his website.

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