Picks and Pans Review: Tempo Pa'matar (time to Kill)

updated 08/20/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/20/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Willie Colón

Like his onetime protégé Ruben Blades, Colón has made some of the best-selling salsa records of all time and is headed for bigger things—specifically, a contract with RCA. This, his last LP on the leading Latin label, indicates why a major label would be willing to gamble on him. Colón, a 34-year-old Bronx native, is a feisty, appealing singer, bright and penetrating. He maintains seemingly perfect diction in up-tempo tunes, and he's capable of gentleness and warmth in such relaxed settings as Noche de los Enmascarados (Night of the Masquerade). Colón's polished big band animates a number of Latin rhythms, including some unusual combinations such as bolero and merengue in Noche de los Enmascarados and plena and merengue in El Diablo (The Devil). One of the most interesting things about the band is the way its arrangers use male and female choruses for counterpoint to the lead vocal and to set up call-and-response patterns. This works especially well in Gitana (Gypsy) and in a seven-minute composition by Colón Callejon sin Salida (Dead End Alley). In these and Falta de Consideración (Lack of Respect), Colón penchant for intricate melodies reaches a zenith. Most of the songs tell stories in a straightforward style more akin to mainstream pop music than to the opaque messages of much progressive rock. Even for those who don't speak Spanish, though, it's easy to enjoy the sheer vibrancy and pace of the language and the way it dovetails with Colón's stimulating music. (Fania)

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