Picks and Pans Review: Cuts Both Ways

updated 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine

The inheritors of a Latin pop tradition that goes back at least as far as Xavier Cugat and Sergio Mendes, Gloria and Emilio Estefan Jr. have their machine very well oiled.

The ballads ("Don't Wanna Lose You," "Here We Are") croon along smoothly, the dance tunes ("Ay, Ay, I," "Say," "Get on Your Feet") surge and hustle. The enjoyment of these tracks is undercut every once in a while by the notion that all of this sounds a bit prefabricated and sterile—a bit like Cuban food with too much of the garlic taken out.

But in any case, those criticisms don't apply to "Oye Mi Canto (Hear My Voice)," which seems much looser and much closer to the group's Latin origins than the Yanqui-fied style that has made them a big act.

Meanwhile, Ms. Estefan, whose voice remains more convincing warm and sweet than it does hot and spicy, prowls around the orchestrations like a jaguar flaunting her territorial impulses. The group seems increasingly built to serve her, but then that's probably reasonable, even if she is no Charo. (Epic)

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