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The Collaboration of Willie Colón/Rubén Blades at Fania Records - Page 2
METIENDO MANO (1977):
Pablo Pueblo / Segun El Color / La Maleta / Me Recordaras / Plantacion Adentro / La Mora / Lluvia De Tu Cielo / Fue Varon / Pueblo
Leopoldo Pineda, trombone / Papo Vasquez, trombone / Lewis Kahn, trombone / Salvador Cuevas, bass / Milton Cardona, conga, clave, talking drum, quinto / Jose Mangual Jr., bongos, maracas, percussion / Nicky Marrero, timbales / Jose Torres, piano / Sonny Bravo, piano / Tom Malone, tuba, harp synthesizer / Yomo Toro, cuatro, acoustic guitar / Rubén Blades, lead vocals, acoustic guitar / Willie Colón, solo trombone
Which brings us to 1977. That's the year when Hector quit Willie's orchestra, which thus engaged Rubén. This one came with a file of compositions under his arm. Of the 9 on the disc "Metiendo Mano", which truly begins the collaboration between the two artists, he wrote 4 of them. The creative process was always the same between the two men: Rubén brings his composition, and it is Willie who decides who will be the arranger (often himself).
Characteristic of the songs with Rubén's characters, "Pablo Pueblo" lyrics is certainly in significant part responsible for the immediate success of the album. On this piece, some of the features characteristic of the Spanish and Latin-American song are taken again and reworked, in particular those of the song and epic poetry.
The song, in all Caribbean and South America, was long used as social chronicle, holding a little the role that now the television news holds. Frequently one finds texts with the glory of a character in which it describes all the exploits and heroic behavior.
Don Quixote by Cervantés is built on this model, substituting the usual hero with a ridiculous character. Already, the first song of the Pete Rodriguez disc, composed and sung by Rubén in 1970, told of the death of the fictitious guerillero Juan González (probably inspired by Che, who had died 3 years earlier). Another example, there are many testimonies of Cuban, Puerto Rican or Dominican election campaigns where the candidates engaged musicians to compose songs explaining why it is necessary to vote for them, and which are based a little on the same principle, to tell events proposing the exemplary or heroic behavior of a person.
The character of Pablo Pueblo (pueblo = people), on his side, is an everyday hero, who returns home after one working day at the factory, and who wonders how he will make a living for his family with the starvation wage which he earns.
This piece (arranged by Luis "Perico" Ortiz) is the first eruption of the "conscious salsa" on the New York salsa scene. It's a piece which no longer says, "You're so beautiful, baby, come dance with me", but which speaks to people about what they are and of what they live each day.
In "Maleta" lyrics, Rubén tells that life in New York is really too stressing and that one is much better in his native land. "Maleta" (the suitcase), it is that of all immigrants, which one is always ready to repack without ever deciding to do it.