Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tempo 70 - El Primer LP (Mericana, 1972)


After all of the Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, and Fania, I feel it's time to head out of mainstream Latin into the used record bins for another rare treat, and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Tempo 70 is the brainchild of Argentinean pianist Bebu Silvetti, who in the early 70s relocated to Puerto Rico and put together the band featured today. Over the course of his life, he played everything from son montuno and guaguanco to Latin jazz to disco. In fact, he is most well known for his 1976 disco hit Spring Rain. Four years prior, however, Silvetti's Tempo 70 would experiment with Latin soul ballads, guaguanco, and a notoriously funky, though relatively unknown, hit on El Primer LP.

IMPORTANT: (Edited August 19) The information above has been disputed. A while ago a person claiming to be Silvia Silvetti, daughter of Bebu Silvetti, commented on this post saying that Bebu never lived in Puerto Rico and was never involved with Tempo 70. I attempted to contact this person via their email, sylviasilvetti@hotmail.com, and received an automated message saying that the email does not exist. About a week later, I received an email and more comments from that email address, with the message containing the following: "I'm not disputing that those songs are my father's, I was disputing the information that he NEVER lived in Puerto Rico and was not aware of that album. I know many albums were published without his knowledge." Previously, I claimed that this person was a fake internet identity. After being contacted again, I will admit that I am still skeptical as to the whether or not this person is legitimate after they emailed me, as a hotmail address can easily be created, and none of the things being said by this person are verifiable. That being said, it is certainly possible that Bebu wrote El Galleton and it was published/covered/stolen by another band without his permission. It is equally possible that it was otherwise. The person claiming to be Ms. Silvetti has their story; what follows is the evidence that supports another story. I cannot claim that either is right, I can only post it to keep everyone informed of the differing accounts. As always, I attempt to post as accurate information as possible, and in the event that the commenter actually is Sylvia Silvetti, then I would like to thank her for reading my blog and contributing to the information posted here.

What follows is the evidence supporting the Bebu Silvetti and Tempo 70 link: the picture below of the El Galleton single clearly displays Bebu's name, and I have a number of web sources claiming the involvement of Bebu Silvetti with Tempo 70:

http://www.prpop.org/noticias/dic05/mandy_vizoso_dic12.shtml
http://www.officenaps.com/2007/07/latin-funk.html
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jifixq8kldje
http://www.geocities.com/hotsprings/1392/SouthAmerica.html
And, furthermore, El Galleton was recently featured on a compilation entitled Nu Yorica! Culture Clash in New York City, and that compilation credits Silvetti as the man behind the song. A number of websites document this:
http://www.answers.com/topic/nu-yorica-culture-clash-in-new-york-city?cat=entertainment
http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,227993,00.html
http://www.mmguide.musicmatch.com/album/album.cgi?ALBUMID=976199
http://www.all-tv.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=BEBU|SILVETTI&sql=11:dpfpxqrgldke~T4 If anyone has more information about this, feel free to contact me. Continue reading for the rest of the review.

To be fair: I am not a huge fan of El Primer LP as a whole album (read on before you write it off, though). The first time I threw it on I was greeted with an absolutely horrible bolero (ballad), and there is a somewhat unspoken code in Latin music that if an album kicks off with a bolero, you'd either better be on your guard or 70 years old. To some extent, the sagely advice proves correct: about half of the album is plagued with very poorly done boleros with a cantante whose awful, gaudy high notes betray his safer swimming in shallower registers.

On the other hand, the rest of the album is filled with upbeat, roots-based tunes. El Charlatan has the dynamics of Ismael Rivera's Cachimbos (aka Cortijo's band during a particular period in their stint with Rivera), and the singer performs much better here. La Pequita de Paquita features some excellent Eddie Palmieri-esque piano work.

The real gem of the album--and what makes buying the whole LP worthwhile....that is, if you can find it--is El Galleton, a much drooled-over 45 that turns both Latin and soul-heads alike. El Galleton plays more like a night at the Apollo than son montuno. The song begins with some excellent descarga on the bongos, and then a rather silly call-and-response verse comes in where the band orders you to Juntale la manteca a'l galleton (Slap the butter on the cracker). The e song breaks down as they switch to pondering the philosophical difference between una galleta (a cracker) and un galleton (a &!*%&# huge cracker--the use of -on at the end of a Spanish word is somewhat, though not exactly, akin to the English superlative, much like changing "funky" to "funkiest," where the -est means "most or very funky"). Before you know it, a surge of organ feedback has washed over you and you're suddenly being chased by the fuzz across Spanish Harlem's 110th in a Latin-ised blaxploitation film. Even the church organs cut through the addictive horn lines to make you get up and dance.

In the interest of flexibility, I've given you two options. You can listen to and download El Galleton as if it were a 7" single, or y0u can download the entire album. Both are available. I'm only presenting the option because I personally listen to El Galleton much more than I do the entire album, and I wouldn't force an album on anyone just for only one song. That being said, I still think that El Primer LP is worth checking out, and it's so rare that you'll be one of the few ears to have ever heard it. As long as you just skip past the boleros (or slow-dance to them with your old lady, if that's your thing), you'll find some good cuts worth your time.

Picture taken from Office Naps


Listen to El Galleton

15 comments:

Sylvia Silvetti said...

HELLO,
I'M SYLVIA SILVETTI, ONE OF BEBU SILVETTI'S DAUGHTERS.
I AM STUNNED AT ALL THE MISSINFORMATION YOU ARE GIVING ABOUT MY FATHER ON YOUR BLOG.
FIRST, HE NEVER LIVED IN PUERTO RICO, EVER! AND SECOND, THIS ALBUM YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT WAS NOT HIS BRAINCHILD NOR DID HE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!
I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE WRITING ALL THIS FALSE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR FATHER BUT WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO REMOVE IT FROM HERE IMMEDIATELY.
THANK YOU,
SYLVIA SILVETTI
sylviasilvetti@hotmail.com

Julian Drago said...

Hello,
You'll have to forgive me if you find this offensive, but I'm a little bit skeptical as to what exactly is going on here.

I have two sources. The first I trust a good bit, as it is an organization founded especially for this kind of cultural research:
http://www.prpop.org/noticias/dic05/mandy_vizoso_dic12.shtml

The second is obviously much more suspect, but supports the first:
http://www.officenaps.com/2007/07/latin-funk.html

That being said, it's fairly easy for anyone to claim to be anyone on the internet and so I am not going to believe you at face value. Using all-caps and two internet names that are both Sylvia Silvetti are both hardly any reason for me to believe that you are who you are. I'm sure you'll understand. But to be fair, it's just as easy to find false information on the internet, and my sources may very well be in the wrong. That being said, I've presented my case, if you contact me at juliandrago@gmail.com and present yours with more detail, I'd be more than happy to sort this out and get the information correct, as I certainly do not want false information in my journal. Again apologies if you are in fact Ms. Sylvetti, but a person ambiguously posting in the comments is no more a reliable source than two internet web pages, so I ask for you understanding in the matter.

I certainly do not want false information in my journal, and so once it's sorted out, I'd be more than happy to post a complete, visible announcement and correction on my journal.

Please contact me soon.

Thank you.

Julian Drago said...

Two more things:

1) I'd like to refer you to the picture of the 45 that I posted, which was taken from the Office Naps blog cited above. The picture features Bebu Sylvetti's name in parenthesis. Yes, it is possible to doctor that, but then it is no longer manipulation--it is outright conspiracy, and I'm very curious as to why anyone one would do that. Just more food for thought.

2) I'm contacting the owner of the Office Naps blog to find out his source of information, hopefully that will help us get to the bottom of this.

Is it at all possible that we are talking about two different Bebu Silvetti's, whose histories at some point became intermingled? Highly doubtful, but at this moment it seems anything is possible.

Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Julian Drago said...

Another piece of information: a recently released compilation of Nuyorican Soul features this Tempo 70 song, and credits Bebu Silvetti as the composer and arranger.

http://www.answers.com/topic/nu-yorica-culture-clash-in-new-york-city?cat=entertainment

and

http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,227993,00.html

and

http://www.mmguide.musicmatch.com/album/album.cgi?ALBUMID=976199

Even Allmusic.com links Silvetti to El Galleton as featured on the compilation:
http://www.all-tv.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=BEBU|SILVETTI&sql=11:dpfpxqrgldke~T4

And the Allmusic Tempo 70 entry lists them as performing songs by Silvetti:
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jifixq8kldje

Here's another link claiming Silvetti/Tempo 70 involvement:
http://www.geocities.com/hotsprings/1392/SouthAmerica.html

Sylvia Silvetti said...

Hello,
I've already sent you an email giving you information. Please contact me so we can discuss this further.
I am not a fraud, I am Bebu's daughter and my email address has been open for many years. I don't understand why you were not able to contact me.
I'm waiting for your reply.
Thanks,
Sylvia

Sylvia Silvetti said...

Hello,
I've just sent you an e-mail, please contact me.
I am Bebu's daughter and this is not a fraud.
I've had this email address for many, many years and I don't understand why you were unable to contact me.
I am waiting for your reply.
Thanks,
Sylvia

César Colón Montijo said...

Hi!
I really like the job you do in your blog, just know about it about a month ago from a friend.
But I just wanted to said somethnig. I have read twice here that Los Cachimbos, Maelo's band, was also a project with Cortijo.
As far as I Know it was the project that Ismael created once he decided to stay in NY, while Rafel came back to Puertorro and form Cortijo y su Bonche.
Yes, they kept playing together all the time in the island, but Los Cachimbos was Maelo's project in the salsa era... well, that´s it.
I am not trying to mess with your work here my friend. Just trying to me a contribution. Again, I respect what you are doing, and also I have heard great musica that I didn´t have, thanks to your blog. Greatings from Puertorro... and aché pa usted!

César

Gringocho de Corazon said...

que paso papa. Como que se te pegaron las cobijas?

Louisa said...

I'm glad I made it past the first bolero... thanx again for all of your hard work on this blog!

Carlos Camacho said...

Hi,
My name is Carlos Camacho and I'm the "high-pitched..." etc. guy in this recording. Sorry you didn't like my voice when I was 20 years old, even though a large portion of Puertorican fans would perhaps say otherwise.
Nevertheless, just to straighten things out... Bebu Silvetti IS the author of "El Galletón", as you say and ONLY of that song. He DID NOT live in Puerto Rico, but rather was brought in by the recording company, Mericana Records,to help out in the production of this new and budding group they had recently signed. He plays the piano in the recording and helped us to "get whatever sound we had" together.
So, I am now a pastor in the city of Ponce, PR and invite you to see my site in www.carloscamacho.com - wishing you like my voice better now than you did then :D
May God bless you richly and abundantly,
Carlos Camacho

Carlos Camacho said...

Oh... I forgot. I don't know if Bebu Silvetti has any children, since we lost contact after that recording (in 1970, by the way), but it's a coincidence that I have a daughter named Sylvia.
Chao,
Carlos C.

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pwrspinnr said...

Tempo 70 is hot. I own a few of their songs.

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