Excerpt from the album's liner notes by Ernesto Lechner (full notes available on request):
It never fails. The mere mention of “Fania” is guaranteed to bring a sweet smile of recognition to Afro-Caribbean music aficionados. The New York-based record company defined an era. It is rightfully known as “the Latin Motown” but it is much more than that. It was solely responsible for developing and defining the essence of an entire genre. Fania is without doubt the most important record label in the history of Latin American music.
The legacy lives on via lovingly remastered reissues from the Fania catalogue. If you have never heard of the New York school of salsa dura or hard salsa, this compilation will probably change your life. This is some of the most moving, heart-wrenching, soulful and devastatingly funky dance music you are likely to find anywhere on the planet. It’s the classic sound of Fania.
Strut are proud to be associated with the greatest and most important Latin American music label of them all, Fania. Tagged “the Latin Motown”, Fania is perhaps most famous for its recordings during the coming of age of salsa from the late ‘60s to the mid-‘80s, when Latin (often Cuban) dance formats like rumba, guaracha, mambo, son and cha cha fused with big band American jazz and the gritty punch of US R&B in the unique melting pot of New York.
Strut begin their programme of Fania albums with the first in the Fania Essential Recordings series, tracing the development of the many styles that matured on the label from Latin soul to salsa and boogaloo. The first instalment, Salsa Explosion, provides an essential introduction to the classic Fania sound through some of the label’s major artists including Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Ray Barretto and the Daddy of the Fania family, Johnny Pacheco.
Fania Essential Recordings: Salsa Explosion is packaged with completely new artwork and features previously unpublished photos from the Fania archive. Sleeve notes come courtesy of Ernesto Lechner of the LA Times and Washington Post.
1. WILLIE COLON – CHE CHE COLE
2. HECTOR LAVOE – EL TODOPODEROSO
3. MONGO SANTAMARIA – O MI SHANGO
4. TITO PUENTE & CELIA CRUZ – PACHITO ECHE
5. JOE CUBA SEXTET – DO YOU FEEL IT (TU LO SIENTES)
6. CELIA CRUZ & JOHNNY PACHECO – CUCALA
7. FANIA ALL STARS – MAMA GUELA
8. RALFI PAGAN – BROTHER, WHERE ARE YOU?
9. EDDIE PALMIERI – BILONGO
10. TITO PUENTE & AZUQUITA – GUAGUANCO ARSENIO
11. LA SONORA PONCENA – BOMBA CARAMBOMBA
12. RAY BARRETTO – EL NUEVO BARRETTO
13. LOUIE RAMIREZ – AHORA ES EL TIEMPO
14. RAFI VAL Y LA DIFERENTE – A MI NENA
15. WILLIE COLON & HECTOR LAVOE – TODO TIENE SU FINAL