Ray Lugo & the Boogaloo Destroyers ‘¡Que Chevere!’ (Freestyle) 4/5

ray-lugo-boogaloo-destroyersUS-based bandleader, lead vocalist and musician Ray Lugo is a devotee of the pioneering 1960s Latin soul sound that fused the then emerging salsa with the hottest and grittiest of soul coming out all parts of the United States. Stylistically, boogaloo predominates on this new album, but there are some tasty elongated descargas, or Latin jazz jam sessions that hit the spot as well as a curious fusion of cumbia and boogaloo rebaptised cumbialoo. Of a host of Latin soul numbers present, by far the strongest on offer here is the title track with an English subtitle in the chorus of ‘My baby’s got Latin Soul’ and with some heavyweight percussive accompaniment and punchy brass into the bargain, this track really cooks. A mixture of old and new from Nueva York is audible on ‘Rico Boogaloo’ where modern day musica latina and old school vibes meet head on. Evidence of more disparate influences emerge on the mid-tempo KC and the Sunshine band inspired vocals of ‘C’mon everbody’ while the eeriest of 1960s style organ plus chanted vocals greets the listener on ‘La tumbia de Fu Manchù’. A homage to the great Latin music leader Willie Rosario is offered on the piano vamp-led ‘Watusi Boogaloo’ with Spanglish the new lingua franca. Ray Lugo and the Boogaloo Destroyers have been championed by DJs of the calibre of Adrian Gibson and authors of distinction such as Pablo Ygelesis and on this evidence it is easy to see why.

Tim Stenhouse