Personnel: Ralfi Pagan, Pete Bonet, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Héctor Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Adalberto Santiago, Justo Betancourt, Monguito "El Unico", Santos Colon (vocals).
At long last, director Leon Gast's legendary 1971 documentary, Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), gets a complete remaster and representation due to purchasing a solid theatrical print of the film from an online auction site; the original master ended up in a landfill. The restored film offers footage from a veritable who's-who of the New York salsa world in this edition of the Fania All-Stars, performing on a single night at the Cheetah, and interspersed with interviews and documentary footage of the barrio. While there are moments where a split second of a crease or a frame might be scratched, the print is otherwise excellent, and is far superior to any previous commercial -- or bootleg -- release. The next time the Fania All-Stars were documented, it was not at a nightclub, but in front of 40,000 fans at Yankee Stadium in 1973. In other words, this is the film that started the salsa craze in America and across Europe. In addition to the DVD, which was released in time for the documentary's 40th anniversary, Fania has included a double CD of the music performed that night, creating a solid documentary of the concert. Among those who participated were Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco, Bobby Valentín, and Roberto Roena, as well as singers Santos Colon, Héctor Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Pete Rodriguez, and Adalberto Santiago, along with special guests Bobby Cruz, Jose "Cheo" Feliciano, and Ricardo Ray. There isn't much in the way of liner notes, but there doesn't need to be: the film provides all the information necessary. As for listening to the CD, while its fidelity isn't the very best, it is better than any previous version, restoring much of the energy and spontaneity to the proceedings, given its being remastered from analog tapes. In addition to the original two discs (which were released separately on LP as Live at the Cheetah, Vols. 1 & 2, the second CD includes the bonus tracks "Cocinando" and the two-part exit jam "Arban Paso." Highly recommended, not only as a historical document, but as a way into discovering the variety of the wild world of New York salsa in the '70s. ~Thom Jurek