Buena Vista Social Club (album)

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Buena Vista Social Club
Buenavistasocialclubalbumcover.jpeg
Studio album by Buena Vista Social Club
ReleasedSeptember 16, 1997
RecordedMarch 1996
StudioEGREM studios, Havana, Cuba
GenreSon cubano, bolero, descarga, danzón, guajira, criolla
Length60:00
LabelWorld Circuit, Nonesuch
ProducerRy Cooder
Buena Vista Social Club chronology
Buena Vista Social Club
(1997)
At Carnegie Hall
(2008)

Buena Vista Social Club is the debut album by the eponymous ensemble of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder. It was recorded at Havana's EGREM studios in March 1996 and released on September 16, 1997, on World Circuit. Despite its success, it remains the only standard studio album exclusively credited to the Buena Vista Social Club.

Buena Vista Social Club was recorded in parallel with A toda Cuba le gusta by the Afro-Cuban All Stars, a similar project also promoted by World Circuit executive Nick Gold and featuring largely the same lineup. In contrast to A toda Cuba le gusta, which was conceived as a revival of the son conjunto, Buena Vista Social Club was meant to bring back the traditional trova and filin, a mellower take on the Cuban son and bolero, as well as the danzón.

A critical and commercial success, the album's release was followed by a short concert tour in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall in 1998. Footage from these dates, together with the recording sessions in Havana, were shown on the Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, released in 1999.

Background[edit]

In 1996, American guitarist Ry Cooder had been invited to Havana by British world music producer Nick Gold of World Circuit Records to record a session where two African High-life musicians from Mali were to collaborate with Cuban musicians.[1] On Cooder's arrival (via Mexico to avoid the ongoing U.S. trade and travel embargo against Cuba),[2] it transpired that the musicians from Africa had not received their visas and were unable to travel to Havana. Cooder and Gold changed their plans and decided to record an album of Cuban son music with local musicians.[1] Already on board the African collaboration project were Cuban musicians including bassist Orlando "Cachaito" López, guitarist Eliades Ochoa and musical director Juan de Marcos González, who had himself been organizing a similar project for the Afro-Cuban All Stars. A search for additional musicians led the team to singer Manuel "Puntillita" Licea, pianist Rubén González and octogenarian singer Compay Segundo, who all agreed to record for the project.[1]

Within three days of the project's birth, Cooder, Gold and de Marcos had organized a large group of performers and arranged for recording sessions to commence at Havana's EGREM Studios, formerly owned by RCA records, where the equipment and atmosphere had remained unchanged since the 1950s.[3] Communication between the Spanish and English speakers at the studio was conducted via an interpreter, although Cooder reflected that "musicians understand each other through means other than speaking".[1]

Recording[edit]

The album was recorded in just six days and contained fourteen tracks; opening with "Chan Chan" written by Compay Segundo, a four-chord son (Dm, F, Gm, A7) that was to become what Cooder described as "the Buena Vista's calling card";[4] and ending with a rendition of "La bayamesa", a traditional Cuban patriotic song (not to be confused with the Cuban national anthem of the same name).[5] The sessions also produced material for the subsequent release, Introducing...Rubén González, which showcased the work of the Cuban pianist.[2] Among the songs left off the album was the classic bolero-son "Lágrimas negras", which was deemed too popular for inclusion, and Compay Segundo's "Macusa". Both songs were later released on the compilation Lost and Found.[6]

Songs[edit]

The majority of the album comprises standards of the trova and filin repertoire, namely sones, guajiras and boleros typically played by small guitar-led ensembles. A foremost example of the son tradition on the album is "Chan Chan", the group's signature tune and the album opener. Written in the 1980s, it is one of Compay Segundo's most famous songs, and one he had recorded several times, most notably with Eliades Ochoa and his Cuarteto Patria. The same formula is followed in this recording, with Ochoa singing lead and Segundo on second voice as his artistic name indicates. The song's lyrics depict a rural scene with two characters: Juanita and Chan Chan.[7] "Chan Chan" is followed by "De camino a la vereda", another son, written and sung by Ibrahim Ferrer.

Another example of the son cubano is Sergio González Siaba's "El cuarto de Tula", sung by Eliades Ochoa, with Ibrahim Ferrer and Manuel "Puntillita" Licea joining Ochoa in an extended descarga (jam) section improvising lyrics. Barbarito Torres plays a frenetic laúd solo towards the end of the track. Timbales are played by the 13-year-old Yulién Oviedo Sánchez. The song is featured in the 2001 film Training Day.[8] "Candela" is another classic son, composed by Faustino Oramas "El Guayabero". Its lyrics, rich with sexual innuendo, are sung by Ibrahim Ferrer who improvises vocal lines throughout the track, while the whole ensemble performs an extended descarga.[9]

Of the many boleros featured in the album, Isolina Carrillo's "Dos gardenias" is perhaps the most famous, being sung here by Ibrahim Ferrer. Carrillo wrote the song in 1945 and it quickly became a huge success in Cuba and abroad. The song was chosen for the album after Cooder heard Ferrer and Rubén González improvising the melody before a recording session. Ferrer learned the song while playing with Cuban bandleader Beny Moré.[10] Another bolero, "¿Y tú qué has hecho?" was written by Eusebio Delfín in the 1920s and features Compay Segundo on tres and vocals. Segundo was traditionally a "second voice" singer providing a baritone counterpoint harmony. On this recording, he multitracks both voices. The song also features a duet between Segundo on tres and Ry Cooder on guitar.[11] "Veinte años", also a bolero, is sung by the only vocalist in the ensemble, Omara Portuondo, with Segundo on second vocals.[12] Other boleros included are Rafael Ortiz's "Amor de loca juventud", Eliseo Silveira's "Orgullecida" (both sung by Compay Segundo) and Electo Rosell's "Murmullo" (sung Ibrahim Ferrer, who used to be the lead vocalist in Rosell's ensemble Orquesta Chepín-Chovén).

"El carretero" is a guajira (country lament) sung by Eliades Ochoa with the full ensemble providing additional instruments and backing vocals, while "La bayamesa", a famous criolla by Sindo Garay, is used as the album closer, with Puntillita, Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer on vocals.

Two tracks are included from the Cuban danzón repertoire: "Pueblo Nuevo" and "Buena Vista Social Club", both dedicated to locations in Havana, originally recorded by Arcaño y sus Maravillas, and composed by bass player Cachao (although the latter has been wrongly attributed to his brother Orestes López in the liner notes and by Cooder).[1][13] The title track spotlights the piano work of Rubén González. It was recorded after Cooder heard González improvising around the tune's musical theme before a day's recording session. After playing the tune, González explained to Cooder the history of the social club and that the song was the club's "mascot tune".[1] When searching for a name for the overall project, manager Nick Gold chose the song's title. According to Cooder,

It should be the thing that sets it apart. It was a kind of club by then. Everybody was hanging out and we had rum and coffee around two in the afternoon. It felt like a club, so let’s call it that. That’s what gave it a handle.[1]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic5/5 stars[14]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[15]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[16]
Vibe(favorable)[17]

Buena Vista Social Club earned considerable critical praise and has received numerous accolades from music writers and publications.[18][19] In 2003, the album was ranked number 260 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[20] one of only two albums on the list to be produced in a non-English speaking country. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[21] As of 2015, the album has sold over 12 million copies.[22]

The album was awarded the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album and Tropical/Salsa Album of the Year by a Group at the 1998 Billboard Latin Music Awards.[23][24]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Chan Chan"Compay Segundo4:16
2."De camino a la vereda"Ibrahim Ferrer5:03
3."El cuarto de Tula"Sergio González Siaba7:27
4."Pueblo Nuevo"Israel "Cachao" López6:05
5."Dos gardenias"Isolina Carrillo3:02
6."¿Y tú qué has hecho?"Eusebio Delfín3:13
7."Veinte años"María Teresa Vera3:29
8."El carretero"Guillermo Portabales3:28
9."Candela"Faustino Oramas5:27
10."Amor de loca juventud"Rafael Ortiz3:21
11."Orgullecida"Eliseo Silveira3:18
12."Murmullo"Electo "Chepín" Rosell3:50
13."Buena Vista Social Club"Israel "Cachao" López4:50
14."La bayamesa"Sindo Garay2:54

Chart performance[edit]

As shown in the table below, Buena Vista Social Club achieved considerable sales in Europe, reaching the Top 10 in several countries, including Germany where it topped the charts, as well as the US, where it reached number 80 on the Billboard 200. In 2009, it was awarded a double platinum certification from the Independent Music Companies Association which indicated sales of at least 1,000,000 copies throughout Europe.[25] As of October 2017, it is the second bestselling Latin album in the United States after Dreaming of You (1995) by Selena.[26]

Chart (1997–2000) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[27] 6
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[28] 37
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[29] 18
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[30] 29
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[31] 7
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[32] 2
French Albums (SNEP)[33] 8
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[34] 1
Irish Albums (IRMA)[35] 27
Italian Albums (FIMI)[36] 26
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[37] 14
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[38] 26
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[39] 7
US Billboard 200[40] 80
US Top Latin Albums (Billboard)[41] 1
US Tropical Albums (Billboard)[42] 1
US World Albums (Billboard)[43] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Position
German Albums Chart[44] 4
Chart (2000) Position
German Albums Chart[45] 11

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[46] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[47] 2× Platinum 100,000*
Belgium (BEA)[48] 3× Platinum 150,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[49] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[50] Platinum 100,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[51] 3× Platinum 0^
Germany (BVMI)[52] 3× Gold 750,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[53] Gold 25,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[54] 3× Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[55] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[56] Platinum 1,925,000[26]
Europe (IFPI)[57] 3× Platinum 3,000,000*
Worldwide (IFPI) N/A 12,000,000[22]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with Ry Cooder" in Los Angeles, by Betty Arcos, host, “The Global Village”, Pacifica Radio, June 27, 2000. Buena Vista Social Club site. PBS.org. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Hurricane Cooder hits Cuba". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved March 20, 2007
  3. ^ Compay Segundo Obituary Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  4. ^ "Life began at ninety" Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  5. ^ Las Bayamesas. La Jiribilla magazine. Juventud Rebelde. Retrieved March 18, 2007. "Desde finales de la segunda década del siglo pasado hasta nuestros días, no hay dudas de que en Bayamo se han escrito otras hermosas e importantes obras musicales, que podrían también llamarse bayamesas. Nadie puede negar sin embargo que las tres primeras bayamesas, compuestas ente 1851 y 1918, precisamente en un período rotundo de afirmación de nuestra identidad nacional, son parte entrañable del patrimonio de la nación cubana."
    Translation: "From the end of the 1910s to the present day, there is no doubt that in Bayamo, beautiful and important music has been written that could also be called Bayamesas. Nobody can deny, nevertheless, that the first three Bayamesas, composed between 1851 and 1918 in a period of strong affirmation of our national identity, are an integral part of Cuban patriotism."
  6. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club's "Lost and Found," Collection of Previously Unreleased Tracks, Due March 23". Nonesuch Records. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Chan Chan - Buena Vista Social Club". PBS.org. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  8. ^ "El cuarto de Tula". PBS.org. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  9. ^ Cooder, Ry. "Buena Vista Social Club – PDF Album Notes". World Circuit Records. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Dos gardenias". PBS.org. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  11. ^ "Y Tu Que Has Hecho? - Buena Vista Social Club". PBS.org. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  12. ^ "Veinte años". PBS.org. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  13. ^ Díaz Ayala, Cristóbal (Fall 2013). "Afro-Cuban All Stars / Buena Vista Social Club" (PDF). Encyclopedic Discography of Cuban Music 1925-1960. Florida International University Libraries. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  14. ^ Steve McMullen (1997-09-16). "Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  15. ^ Dimitri Ehrlich (1997-10-03). "Buena Vista Social Club Review | Music Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  16. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Replay.waybackmachine.org. 1997-09-18. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  17. ^ "Music: Buena Vista Social Club (CD) by Buena Vista Social Club (Artist)". Tower.com. September 16, 1997. Archived from the original on June 23, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  18. ^ AcclaimedMusic: Buena Vista Social Club. AcclaimedMusic.net. Retrieved on February 9, 2009.
  19. ^ Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  20. ^ RS500: Buena Vista Social Club. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on February 9, 2009.
  21. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  22. ^ a b Cantor-Navas, Judy (March 19, 2015). "Buena Vista Social Club Readies 'Lost and Found' Album, Final Tour". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  23. ^ "40th Annual Grammy Awards – 1998". Rock On The Net. February 25, 1998. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  24. ^ Cantor, Judy (April 18, 1998). "Latino Artists Honored With Billboard Awards". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 110 (16): 77. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  25. ^ http://www.impalamusic.org/arc_static/docum/04-press/2009/PR%20-%2020091006.htm
  26. ^ a b Estevez, Marjua (October 17, 2017). "The Top 25 Biggest Selling Latin Albums of the Last 25 Years: Selena, Shakira & More". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  27. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  30. ^ "Ultratop.be – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  32. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  33. ^ "Lescharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  34. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  35. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 16, 2000". Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  36. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  37. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  38. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  39. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  40. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  41. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club Chart History (Top Latin Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  42. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club Chart History (Tropical Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  43. ^ "Buena Vista Social Club Chart History (World Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  44. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  45. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  46. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2000 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  47. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved December 14, 2017. Enter Buena Vista Social Club in the field Interpret. Enter Buena Vista Social Club in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen. 
  48. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – albums 2008". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  49. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  50. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Music Canada. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  51. ^ "Danish album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  52. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Buena Vista Social Club; 'Buena Vista Social Club')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  53. ^ "IFPI Norsk platebransje Trofeer 1993–2011" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  54. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Buena Vista Social Club; 'Buena Vista Social Club')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  55. ^ "British album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Buena Vista Social Club in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  56. ^ "American album certifications – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  57. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2002". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 22 October 2012.

External links[edit]