February 24, 2011

Los Chakachas - Afro-Cuban Cha-Cha madness . . from Belgium?

I wasn't planning on it tonight, but this record flew off the shelf and hit me in the head, so I took it as a sign. Los Chakachas were a mostly Spanish/Belgian group of studio musicians who fell in love with the Afro-Cuban genre and further got into it when they landed Cuban singer Kari Kenton (aka: Mrs. Tito Puente) and their fortunes took off.

Huge in Europe during the height of the Cha-Cha frenzy of the late 1950's, Los Chakachas (or Les Chakachas depending on which country you bought their records) made inroads to the international market and tonight's track, Guapacha is off their debut American lp for RCA Victor International (a short-lived imprint of RCA where everything RCA couldn't figure out what to do with went). They continued to record and perform throughout Europe into the 1970's, climbing into the Disco genre and, even though they are far from a household name these days, were nonetheless riding the crest of a very popular wave and made a substantial contribution to it.

Throw your shoes off and get frantic.

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