Saturday, August 6, 2011

Roots Of Chicha (Barbés Records, 2011)

Came out a bit late, but it's still valid. The Roots Of Chicha, the compilation that started it all, is finally available on vinyl!
In 2006 New York-based Barbés records released the first volume of this series and that was enough to unleash a world-wide chicha fever that even pre-dates the crossing-over of ñu-cumbia to the Northerh Hemisphere's DJ community.
Only one thing was missing, and I pointed it out last year when the second volume of these series came out: vinyl. CDs are ok, but DJs want vinyl and finding original chicha music in that format in the English-speaking world is very hard, unless you're willing to pay exorbitant amounts in shipping to some speculating asshole on Ebay and  trust the very unreliable post offices of South America.
Barbés totally slept on that one. And they should've never underestimated the power vinyl, specially when your target audience is mainly DJs and diggers/collectors. Spain's Vampi Soul saw the opportunity and jumped in last year, dropping an amazing chicha comp with a mind-blowing packaging and great mastering quality and for a while it seemed that they had won the battle for chicha reissues supremacy. They even won the Best Cover Art in The Hard Data Awards for 2010.
Knowing this, the guys at Barbés Records knew that they definitely needed to step up their game if they wanted to enter the vinyl arena and drop some out-of-this-world unbelievable release. They smashed the little piggy bank and apparently spent all their savings in producing the most awesome double-LP ever!
Roots Of Chicha compiles the best songs of both volumes from these series and it comes in a gorgeous packaging that makes you wanna buy doubles just to frame a copy and hang it on your wall. It's done in some heavy-ass thick cardboard (the bones in my back are gonna hate me for adding this to my record carry-on case), with great quality pictures and it comes with a nice big 20-page full color booklet that makes it an indispensable collector's item. This is double amazing considering than in its time and in its homeland this music never received this kind of v.i.p. treatment. Like most other cumbia from the 60's and 70's, chicha albums never came with extras like that, the production values were considerably low (which from a perspective adds to the kitschness of their design) and the written information was always minimal (that, I assume, is because their main target audience at the time was barely literate). So, yeah, 40 years later, chicha finally gets the treatment it deserves with a top quality album like this.
I still love the art in the Vampi Soul's comp a tiny bit better, just because it's more cartoony. But The Roots Of Chicha in vinyl is set to break all other records and become a contestant for the best Latin music reissue collection ever released in vinyl. Plus, unlike the Vampi Soul's comp, this one has all the must-have classics. So if you're only planning to have just one chicha compilation on your collection, look no further, this is all you need.

Buy it directly from Barbés Records here.

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