When my parents moved to Caracas, Venezuela, in the early 1980s, I tried to visit as often as my time and our traveling budget allowed. It was the time of the Sony Walkman and, soon thereafter, the Sony Discman, and I usually had more than enough music along for the many trips to last me several weeks. Still, in the long run, I would run out and simply tune into any of the many radio stations available.
Besides the usual US fare being played up and down the airwaves, Venezuelan radio was infused with salsa, from right to left, from top to bottom, and 24/7. For someone unacquainted with it, most of the tunes played sounded all alike, but it didn’t take me long to get with the program. So, when my second or third visit rolled along, I found myself automatically tuning into a salsa station to accompany the soothing night sounds of frogs and chicadas and whatever else came creepy crawling out at night. By the way, whenever I returned to Europe, I immediately missed that soundtrack I had then enjoyed for anywhere from 4 weeks to nearly three months. Actually, Europe was, if you didn’t live downtown, sonically dead as a door nail.
One day, a single tune made me prick up my ears, run over to the radio and turn it up as loud as possible without gliding into distortion territory. It had an incredibly modern rhythm, a polished 80s production sound, and one hell of a catchy hook, including a wonderful finale. It was a fascinating fusion of traditional dance music with modern instruments and production values.
That song was “Chamito Candela“. Continue Reading →