Rolling Stone (9/18/97, p.104) - 3.5 Stars (out of 5) - "...revisit[s] the lovelorn ballads, patriotic hymns and gentle son-based dance numbers heard in swank Havana lounges as far back as the 1920s....enduring reminders that in Cuba, the wisdom of the ages still counts for something."
Spin (9/99, p.156) - Ranked #71 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Entertainment Weekly (10/03/97, p.85) - "...The rhythms vary, but the sound is gentle yet flamboyant throughout. It brims with warmth." - Rating: B+
Q (1/98, p.112) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."
Vibe (11/97, p.152) - "...The beguiling fusion of Cooder's twangy slide guitar with the danzon and other, conga-tinged Afro-Hispanic rhythms...makes for an exciting multicultural marriage..."
Village Voice (2/24/98) - Ranked #21 in the Village Voice's 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Mojo (Publisher) (p.65) - Ranked #23 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Witty, wistful, and above all wise."
Buena Vista Social Club: Compay Segundo (vocals, guitar, congas); Eliades Ochoa (vocals, guitar); Ibrahim Ferrer (vocals, bongos, clave); Ry Cooder (acoustic & electric slide guitars, guitar, oud, bolon, mbira, percussion); Ruben Gonzalez (piano).
Additional personnel includes: Juan de Marcos Gonzalez (conductor, guiro, background vocals); Julio Alberto Fernandez (vocals, maracas); Manuel "Puntillita" Licea (vocals, congas); Omara Portuondo (vocals); Benito Suarez Magana (guitar); Barbarito Torres (laoud); Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal (trumpet); Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, Salvador Repilado Labrada (bass); Joachim Cooder (drums, udu drum, dumbeck, conga); Alberto "Virgillo" Valdes (maracas, background vocals).
Recorded at Egrem Studios, Havana, Cuba, March, 1996. Includes liner notes by Nick Gold and Nigel Williamson.
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance.
Personnel: Ry Cooder (vocals, guitar, mandolin); Compay Segundo (vocals, guitar, congas, background vocals); Eliades Ochoa (vocals, guitar); Julio Fernandez (vocals, maracas); Ibrahim Ferrer, Manuel "Puntillita" Licea (vocals, background vocals); Omara Portuondo (vocals); Benito Suárez Magana (guitar); Manuel "El Guajiro" Mirabal (trumpet); Rubén González (piano); Lázaro Villa (congas, guiro); Carlos González (bongos, cowbells); Juan de Marcos González (guiro, background vocals); Alberto Valdés (maracas); Julienne Oviedo Sánchez (timbales); Luis Barzaga (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jerry Boys.
Liner Note Author: Ry Cooder.
Recording information: EGREM Studios, Havana, Cuba (03/1996); Ocean Way Studios, Hollywood, CA (03/1996).
Photographer: Susan Titelman.
Translators: Francesca Clarke; Jenny Adlington.
That Ry Cooder, you've got to keep an eye on him every minute, or he jumps into another cross-cultural collaboration. In the wake of his landmark recordings TALKING TIMBUKTU with Ali Farka Toure and A MEETING BY THE RIVER with V.M. Bhatt comes BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, essentially a supergroup of traditional Cuban musicians with the addition of international agitator Cooder. Somehow, Cooder always finds just the right space to slide in with his sinuous slide guitar, so that it works in almost any context. Here, amidst the multi-layered percussion, piano, and Cuban guitar rhythms, Cooder's slide simultaneously finds a home and spurs the ensemble on. The natural beauty of the Cuban tonal and rhythmic palette is the real star of BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, evoking both a sense of mystery and a feeling of intense emotional satisfaction.