August 18, 2010

Perfect imperfection

I won't kid you: the late Laba Sosseh (he died nearly three years ago) was not the best singer of the latin-tinged repertoire. There were and are others, with better voices, a better pronounciation of spanish, a more latin feel. I remember an album he did in the late 1970s together with Monguito; Laba got vocally plastered by Monguito...

But personally I don't care. I love Laba Sosseh for his imperfection, the way in which he did not betray his roots in an attempt to be a real latin sonero, - in short: for remaining Laba Sosseh.

The album in this post is not his best. Others (like the one I posted earlier) are more likely to be awarded this label. It's also not his steamiest (this award might go to this cassette). And I am not even going to discuss the sorry state of the vinyl.

Nevertheless, it's authentic Sosseh. Recorded in 1977 for Abou Lassisi's Sacodis label, the lp features Laba accompanied by the 'Special' Liwanza Band. I am not too sure why they are special, - perhaps for the lack of horns (or even a tiny sax). But in their own uncomplicated way they are certainly not bad.

With yet two more versions of the Cuban evergreens "Guantanamera" and "El Manicero" (hooray!), a mumbled "Ay Que No", "Prepare Candela" (but I have no idea what he wants us to do after lighting the stove...), "El Guaguanco" (which I am sure he has at one point also combined with "El Manicero"): it's all great.
My favourites are the two last tracks of both sides. But can anyone explain what the title "No Quiero El Son" has to do with the song? I can understand that he would want to shut up to avoid a quarrel with a girlfriend, but Laba Sosseh not liking son...?
To me the top track of this album is "Conjura". It's got it all: great rhythm, nice instrumental bit, uncomprehensible lyrics, an intriguing title, plus Laba Sosseh: perfect!

Sacodis LS 5-77


gilhodges said...

In the universe of music blogs where fetishizing the obscure all too often seems to be the ultimate currency being traded, the warmth, humanity and utter devotion to the music on display in these posts, well, it is a joy to behold. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Monguito "plastered" many vocalists greater than laba, however, he is my favorite African salsero. I've always wanted to hear this record, i think that it's the only sacodis recording by Laba that i do not have. Thanks much.


david said...

Another home run, Gil Hodges. Bravo worldservice!