Bugalú Sounds

Bugalú Sounds

If you’re curious to learn more about the bugalú, check out these five albums.


Boogaloos de Siempre
Universal Latin

This 2006 anthology is packaged poorly, but its song selection is as close to a definitive bugalú “greatest hits” primer as one could ask for. Not only does it include Ricardo Ray’s overlooked “Lookie, Lookie”; it also features such major bugalú tracks as Joe Cuba’s million-selling “Bang Bang,” Eddie Palmieri’s sophisticated “Ay Que Rico,” Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like It Like That,” Joe Bataan’s “Gypsy Woman,” Johnny Colon’s “Boogaloo Blues” and a few lesser-known but equally strong bugalús such as the TnT Band’s “Mr. Slick” and “It’s Not What You Say,” by Ali Baba (aka Louie Ramirez).

El Barrio: The Bad Boogaloo: Nuyorican Sounds 1966-1970
Fania Records

Fania Records helped build and end bugalú‘s reign within the Latin world in the 1960s, but in more recent times it has been instrumental in building up interest in the style again. The “El Barrio” series is its new set of anthologies devoted to various aspects of the bugalú era. Bad Boogaloo is a sixteen-track compilation featuring many great bugalús that go beyond the basics: Johnny Ventura’s exceptional “Guajira Con Soul”; the Latinaires’ classic “Camel Walk”; a rarity from King Nando, “Mama’s Girl”; and the “Queen of Latin Soul” herself, La Lupe, with her fiery rendition of “Fever.” Dean Rudland contributes a useful set of liner notes, and there are also image scans of the original album/single art on the included songs.

Fania Live ’01: From the Meat Market
Fania Records

The first volume in a Fania-commissioned series of Latin music dance mixes features New York’s DJ Rumor. His mix is both an excellent primer on the bugalú and Latin soul world, and he shows deft skills in pairing certain songs, such as Ray Barretto’s “Teacher of Love,” Joe Cuba’s “Gimme Some Love” and Tito Puente’s “Pata Pata.” An outstanding treat to listen–and, ideally, to dance–to.

Nu Yorica Roots!
Soul Jazz

For those interested in exploring the greater Latin soul genre, this compilation provides an excellent introductory course on New York’s seminal Latin music scene in during the 1960s. It includes Tito Puente’s scorching “Oye Como Va,” Joe Cuba’s proto-bugalú “El Pito,” Ray Barretto’s mesmerizing classic “Acid” and the chattering “Descarga Cachao,” by Tito Rodriguez.

Gozalo: Bugalu Tropical Vol. 1

Bugalú‘s influence went far beyond American borders and spread throughout the international Latin music scene, especially in Central and South American countries like Panama, Colombia and Peru. Not only did Peru have one of the biggest Latin music markets in South America; bugalú became a massive trend there as well. Gozalo compiles some of the best of the bunch with two different volumes. The first in that series includes excellent examples of Peruvian-style bugalú from the likes of Nilo Espinosa, Mario Allison and his combo, and the great pianist Alfredo Linares and his Sonora band.

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