Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Panama! 2 [Soundway, 2009]
The first volume preserves the big-band salsa and Latin soul of the Colon and Panama City scenes--hot, yes, but often secondhand and/or overblown. This one sticks mostly to the interior. On the lead track, an accordion takes the horn part of a Willie Colon bomba and turns the tune into a cumbia; on the next, two horns take the accordion part of a percussion-driven tamborito and turn that one into "tamborito swing." Gradually the music salsafies, though less elaborately than on volume one, as well as briefly resuscitating more soul and a couple of calypsos. But in the end the accordion returns, frisky and tipico, the indigenous instrument of what some have called "Colombia's black province," as of the 1967-'77 heyday this heroic crate dig documents. A-