As an average white middle-class big city boy in Eurocentric Buenos Aires, I grew up systematically turning my back on cumbia, dismissing it as "music for maids and bus-drivers." But as much as my generation would like to deny it, cumbia was there, it was very present in our backyards, subconsciously influencing us. Going back to the vinyl records of that era I find myself confronted with mixed feelings, a sort of nostalgia for an era I could never be nostalgic about because I was decisively not part of it. Still, many of these songs unleash instant flashbacks to precise moments of my childhood because we used to sing them, mostly as a joke, even when we didn't know that type of music was called cumbia, sometimes because they crossed over to the mainstream as soccer hooligan chants, as mentioned on this related post.
I put together this selection of Argentine pressings of cumbia--not exclusively recorded by Argentinean artists or artist living in Argentina. It's an unfinished work, needs a lot more work, but a first step into trying to figure out, through vinyl digging, some of the history of Argentine cumbia and how it developed to eventually give birth to cumbia villera and ñu-cumbia. I only ripped some tracks from each album, the ones I found either more interesting or more representative. Enjoy and share!
LOS LUCEROS COLOMBIANOS CON RITMO - Fiesta en Bogotá (Armar, 1974): This is just me speculating, but I think there was a time when claiming to be Colombian gave you more credibility if you were trying to play cumbia in Argentina. That's why there're so many groups with names like this. I don't know who they are, maybe they were Colombians who followed the steps of Cuarteto Imperial and relocated in Argentina, maybe they are Argentineans pretending to be Colombians and playing mostly Colombian style cumbias. There's however a candombe (Afro-Uruguayan rhythm) listed in their repertoire and a song where they say "here in Argentina" in the chorus (even when the album title is Party in Bogotá). So I have my doubts.