Audio Remasterer: Alex Abrash.
Liner Note Author: Matt Rogers.
This massive two-disc compilation -- 55 songs and over two-and-a-half hours -- is one in a superb series of similar best-ofs from the reanimated Fania label. Taking its title from one her most popular songs, Puro Teatro is a fitting tribute to one of the wildest, most uncontrollable force-of-nature vocalists in the history of Latin music. Unlike the relatively restrained joy of Celia Cruz, La Lupe's songs, whether manically uptempo boogaloo numbers, Latinized remakes of pop hits ( "Fever," "That's the Way It's Gonna Be," "Bring It on Home to Me," "My Way," recast as "Como Acustombro") or fervid ballads, went right up to the edge and frequently toppled right over it. Backed by the crack Afro-Cuban band of Mongo Santamaría at the beginning of her career, she also employed strings for a Shirley Bassey-esque feel on slower numbers. Songs like "La Reina" and her remake of "Fever" have so much fire and energy they launch out of the speakers like flaming arrows. While her astonishingly thick accent can make her seem like self-parody at times, her music becomes irresistible and astonishing when you surrender to the passion of her performances. And while she performed show tunes, pop hits, and florid love songs with titles like "Eres Malo y Te Amo" ("You're Evil and I Love You"), she also frequently closed her albums with percussion-heavy, traditional chants reflecting her Santeria faith. All sides of La Lupe are present on this double disc, and it's a must-hear for any fan of Latin music or female singers, period. ~ Phil Freeman
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