Editor: Mandy Bolster.
In jazz music, the Latin tinge is well-documented, but its influence on pop music has been given far less space; although it's not often hard to connect the dots between Cuban or Brazilian rhythms in early swing, it's far more difficult to see how those rhythms eventually filtered through the rest of popular music, especially R&B and rock & roll. The astonishingly thorough compilation Rumba DooWop, Vol. 2: 1955-1956 provides 63 additional examples -- beyond what appeared on volume one -- of how vocal groups (nearly all of them black) incorporated Latin rhythms into their recordings, nearly always easily and naturally. While the first volume, Rumba DooWop, Vol. 2: 1933-1954, began the story with early vocal groups or gospel combos, this volume focuses on the rock & roll era. There are few hits to be found (the only very well-known songs are the Coasters' "Down in Mexico" and the Jayhawks' "Stranded in the Jungle"), but for doo wop fans looking beyond the charts, it's an excellent way to pad out their collection. Aside from containing dozens of great songs by talented groups, listeners shouldn't assume that many of these sides are radical departures from standard doo wop; in fact, the fusion of Latin and American was so complete by the late '40s that scads of doo wop sides could use Latin rhythms without even sounding exotic -- which works slightly to the detriment of the compilation, at least as a concept. The best course of action is to treat it simply as a repository for great sides by a variety of doo wop groups, both popular and obscure. ~ John Bush