Playlist: The World of Orquesta El Macabeo
From hardcore classics the Cro-Mags to los Fabulosos Cadillacs and the Palmieri brothers, Orquesta El Macabeo's influences reveal their eclectic sonic roots. Reporter Javier Ibarra (@cepheacephea) recently asked the band to share some of the albums that have influenced them. The full version of this article originally appeared in Vice media's Noisey (Spanish edition) and has been translated and excerpted with permission: https://noisey.vice.com/es/article/evqw8z/16-discos-favoritos-de-la-orquesta-el-macabeo-para-hacer-salsa-macabra
Luis de la Rosa Solá (singer)
Sabor by Ángel Canales
I discovered this one through the song "Perico Macoña." Ángel Canales maintained his identity in spite of trends. This has always been my goal: to maintain my musical identity even when fashions come and go. He was the underdog of Fania and was able to have a successful career in spite of not being the record label’s goose that laid the golden egg. Ángel Canales's interpretation has no comparison in salsa, or perhaps in any style of tropical music.
The Age of Quarrel by Cro-Mags
This was the first voice in hardcore that I found really interesting. John Joseph's ability to harmonize and to create melodies showed me what can be sung in hardcore. I recommend it because it's one of the first examples of crossover in the New York underground scene, and also because of its honesty and the realism of its lyrics.
Gabriel Beauchamp Hurtado (trumpet)
Pirates Choice by Orchestra Baobab
Lately I've been listening to this band from Senegal. They play Afro-Cuban son with electric guitar. The album is from 1989.
Kings of Chunda Chunda by The Refrescos
I bought this ska album in 2005 when I was playing trumpet with Los Negros Vivos on tour in Mexico. Even though it's from Spain, this album reminds me of great times in Mexico City.
Yussef Soto Villarini (saxophone)
12 grandes éxitos para bailadores by Orquesta Zodiac
This came into my life during adolescence. I listened to it on a jukebox with my brother, after school. I heard its classic track "Panteón de amor," which tells the story of a man's heartbreak and how he decides to make a mausoleum to bury his feelings of love. I love the theatricality within the lyrics; they are stories that could work well in short films or on theater stages.
Fabulosos Calavera by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
This album is the one that I'll keep until the end of the world. It's a rock, salsa, jazz, and revolutionary album. It alludes to South American literary writers; Rubén Blades makes an appearance; it maintains its two-tone ska essence; and the repertoire is on fire. I was still in school when it came out it continues to inspire me very much.
Aníbal Vidal Quintero (keyboard and backing vocals)
ElectroDuro by Charlie Palmieri
I don't remember who recommended this to me. Before I'd heard it I used to like adding synthesizers into Orquesta el Macabeo, and when I listened to this I was even more motivated by how Charlie Palmieri was able to integrate them into the arrangements. Listen and you'll see that it's something completely different.
Re by Café Tacuba
This is a perfect album. I listened to it as a kid without paying attention, and it wasn't until I was an adult that I understood the musical jewel that it is. I recommend it because I think it doesn't fall into any musical genre. It has its own style. It's influenced me not to lock myself into a single musical genre.
Horacio Alcaraz Meléndez (trumpet)
El Prodigioso by Eddie Palmieri
Fifty years of the maestro. My father gave me this album in September 2009. One month later he died, and that's when I began to listen to it. One curious thing is that I discovered that some of the tracks were recorded live in the Theater Room at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, a room that remained closed for many years and that we later had the privilege of playing when they reopened it. Eddie Palmieri was always ahead of his time. That's what sets him apart.
The Stranger by Billy Joel
This was my mom's cassette. It was always inside her radio and every day when I arrived home from school I would hit "play" and practice throwing baseball pitches. I discovered that I'm a very sentimental guy and that making music without feeling isn't worth the trouble.
Javier Santiago Rivera (percussion and backing vocals)
Nuestro Negocio: Salsa by Orquesta Corporación Latina
I've been listening to this album my whole life, at family parties in Trujillo. To see my aunts and uncles dance when I was a little boy made me keep listening to it while I was growing up. Its sound and lyrics are so real. It's definitely an influence in my life, mostly in the fact that I now play in the most honest and real salsa orchestra in Puerto Rico. We create salsa to have fun playing onstage, not to please or to convince big record labels. If we enjoy ourselves onstage playing the music that we make, the audience is naturally going to have a good time.
Raro by El Cuarteto de Nos
I discovered this album searching for new music online when there was nothing left for me to listen to out of all the shit that's out there. After listening to it and starting to look for more of their material, they became one of my favorite groups. They motivate me because they've been playing since the '80s and it's not until recently that they could leave their day jobs and dedicate themselves to what they love. Also, their lyrics are really smart. They remind me a lot of Orquesta el Macabeo, because they have the ability to speak to you of good things and at the same time to speak to you of bad things, with a sincerity that's very rare in this business.
José Ibáñez Reyes (bajo)
Orquesta Panamericana by Orquesta Panamericana
This is the album that I remember most from my childhood. Within tropical music, it always caught my attention, even when 95% of what I listened to was heavy metal. It's the first of everything. I still listen to it and it makes my hair stand up. The combination of singers and musical styles together in this production are so beautiful that they make anyone's day better. I recommend it because it's the root of what eventually and commercially evolved into salsa. I'm grateful to my father and my grandfather for this.
Generación ABCDE... 1+1=3 by La Experiencia de Toñito Cabanilla$$$
I discovered this album in the '90s when I went with my death metal group to play in Mayagüez and the event was canceled. The person who organized the event maintained a fanzine with a small independent distribution. In exchange for us driving three hours to get to the show, the guy gave me some copies of his zine and this cassette. When I listened to it, it blew my mind because it was noticeable that these people were having a good time making music and also getting into the shit of all the sociopolitical situations at the time in Puerto Rico. Later I saw them live with another pioneering punk group from here called Shampain. It definitely woke up my desire to create punk. This album isn't like anything else. It doesn't sound like any other band.
Julio Ortiz Luquis (congas)
Lucumí, macumba, voodoo by Eddie Palmieri
I found this album in a store and I recommend it because it impresses every time you listen to it. It's a masterpiece.
Life of Dreams by Crumbsuckers
I listened to this in school through my friends. For me, this album is perfection. Not even the Crumbsuckers can top it.
Javier Ibarra is a self-taught journalist who writes for different digital magazines in Mexico.
Translated from the Spanish by Eileen Willis.