Get ready for a freak-out, because Craft Recordings has announced a new 15-song compilation of experimental and far-out treasures from the legendary Latin music label Fania! Entitled Fania Goes Psychedelic, this crate-digger's fantasy is part of Craft Latino's ongoing celebration of the influential imprint that became a home to the Latin-soul fusion "boogaloo" tunes that were coming out of the barrios. Originally founded by musician Johnny Pacheco and lawyer Jerry Masucci in 1964, the label grew quickly and eventually become one of the most significant imprints in Latin music as it "documented the New York salsa explosion of the 70s and established itself as the Latin equivalent of Motown."
Though the significance of Fania (not to mention Alegre, Cotique, Tico and other labels it acquired over time) has often gone overlooked, Craft Latino sets the record straight with this wide-ranging digital compilation. Indeed, there's no shortage of amazing material on Fania Goes Psychedelic, which reveals the influence of the drug counterculture as it permeated all music. The set kicks off with percussionist Ray Barretto's "Acid," a toe-tapping jazz track from 1968. Wailing trumpets lines, intense percussion breaks, syncopated piano, and the alluring clang of the cowbell blend to make a hypnotic track that's sure to get you moving. We also hear Barretto's "Power," which drives a little harder with stabs of brass and a seductive bass groove.
The Lebrón Brothers Orchestra are represented by their own original "Summertime Blues" from their debut album, Psychedelic Goes Latin, which was recently reissued for Record Store Day Black Friday. The album was one of three that the brothers delivered for Cotique, a label later acquired by Fania.
Elsewhere, we hear the influence of Motown on Orquesta Harlow's dancefloor-ready instrumental "Freak Off" and Pete Rodriguez's 1967 side for the Alegre label, "Oh That's Nice." Rodriguez's blend of soul and son montuno grooves not only built the framework for boogaloo fifty years ago, but also continues to get people moving. In 2018, the refrain from another Rodriguez side for Alegre, "I Like It Like That," was sampled on the inescapable No. 1 pop hit "I Like It" by Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny and J. Balvin. And while "I Like It" didn't make the cut for the compilation, "Oh That's Nice" proves with no less certainty the lasting impact of his work.
Other standouts include Jimmy Sabater's funky cover of Kool and The Gang's "Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz)," Bobby Valentin's soulful "Use It Before You Lose It," Joey Pastrana's slow-groove jazz-blues track "Problems," the psychedelic soul of The Harvey Averne Band's "Got To Have Brotherhood," and the freaky fuzz-rock of "Electric Latin Soul" by Flash and the Dynamics.
The fifteen tracks on Fania Goes Psychedelic show the breadth of the fabled label's catalog: soul, jazz, drugged-out rock jams, it's all here to enjoy. And though we hope for a physical configuration at some point (maybe a Record Store Day LP or similar), what's most important is that this influential and infectious music is out there to enjoy.
Fania Goes Psychedelic is available now on any streaming service or digital download provider. Craft Latino and Fania are also rolling out new music videos for a number of tracks from the compilation, starting with Ray Barretto's "Acid" and The Lebrón Brothers Orchestra's "Let's Get Stoned." Check them out below!
- Ray Barretto - Acid
- The Lebrón Brothers Orchestra - Let's Get Stoned
- Johnny Colón and His Orchestra - Boogaloo Blues
- The Latin Blues Band featuring Luis Aviles - Take a Trip
- George Guzman - Banana Freak Out
- The Harvey Averne Band - Got To Have Brotherhood
- Pete Rodriguez - Oh That's Nice
- Orquesta Harlow - Freak Off
- Joey Pastrana and His Orchestra - Problems (Problemas)
- Eddie Palmieri - Revolt/La libertad logico
- Ray Barretto - Power
- Bobby Valentin - Use It Before You Lose It
- The Lebrón Brothers Orchestra - Summertime Blues
- Jimmy Sabater - Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz)
- Flash and the Dynamics - Electric Latin Soul
Track 1 originally released on Acid, Fania Records LP SLP 346, 1968.
Track 2 originally released on The Brooklyn Bums, Cotique LP C 1015, 1968.
Track 3 originally released on Boogaloo Blues, Cotique LP C 1004, 1967.
Track 4 originally released on Take A Trip Pussycat, Speed Records LP SS 101, 1968.
Track 5 originally released on Introducing George Guzman, Fania Records LP 348, 1968.
Track 6 originally released on Brotherhood, Fania Records LP 379, 1969.
Track 7 originally released on Oh, That's Nice! (Ay, que bueno!), Alegre Records LP LPA 860, 1967.
Track 8 originally released as Orchestra Harlow on Harlow's Harem, Fania Records LP SLP 408, 1972.
Track 9 originally released on Hot Pastrana, Cotique LP C 1025, 1968.
Track 10 originally released on Vamonos pa'l monte, Tico Records LP 1224, 1971.
Track 11 originally released on Barretto Power, Fania Records LP 397, 1970.
Track 12 originally released on Let's Turn On / Arrebatarnos, Fania Records LP 343, 1968.
Track 13 originally released on Psychedelic Goes Latin, Cotique LP C 1008, 1967.
Track 14 originally released as "Kool It" on El hijo de Teresa / Terea's Son, Tico Records LP 1211, 1970.
Track 15 originally released on The New York Sound, Tico Records LP 1233, 1971.