Friday, May 17, 2024


Last weekend Bruce Charlton posted this old TV ad for Guinness - 

Yes, I remembered it but not for the dancing man with his giant glass of the black stuff. It was the instantly recognisable music of Perez 'Prez' Prado. I was going to build a post around that but then I was thinking of all the other latino bands in a similar style and so it has evolved into a Cuban/Purto Rican music born from the slightly seedy and dubious Havana night life of the fifties prior to the Castro revolutionof 1959. The nightclubs have long gone but the music lives on and appears to be thriving again in the US.

"In the 1920s, superwealthy Americans began to vacation in Havana during the winter months. The Depression and World War II brought a lull to the fast action. By the late 1940s and early '50s, however, Havana had ramped up its nightclub business to meet the demands for entertainment, gambling and vice. Movie and recording stars as well a celebrated writers visited and roosted there.

"During this period, American organized crime moved in to operate Havana clubs, racetracks and casinos, primarily to launder money obtained illegally in the States. Corruption, payoffs and exploitation became the norm as organized crime paid off the police and government officials. All of this activity and abuse at the expense of average Cubans ultimately led to the Castro revolution and regime in January 1959."

You can read more here of how Havana became a suburb of Las Vegas -

This is the original, I think, by Cuban band leader Perez 'Prez' Prado from 1958

Perez Prado - Guaglione (1958)


"Cuba no Aguanta Más" Arturo Sandoval

Tito Puente • “El Mambo Diablo” • LIVE 1963 [Reelin' In The Years Archive]

......and bringing things right up to date this is the incomparable Sheila E, The Percussion Queen!

Sheila E. - Bemba Colorá ft Gloria Estefan & Mimy Succar

The joyful exuberance of these musicians is the polar opposite of the politicians whose only function appears to be to spread misery and fear, angry apes playing 
"such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.”

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