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Baker's Dozen

Thirteen Convulsions: Geordie Greep's Favourite Albums
Cal Cashin , July 20th, 2022 13:19

Black Midi frontman Geordie Greep takes Cal Cashin through the thirteen albums that have gripped him the most, from the majesty of Bach to the mania of Léo Ferré


Héctor Lavoe – Comedia

When I was a kid, my mum worked at a salsa club. She loved salsa music. When we were chilling, and when we were in the car, there’d be salsa music playing all the time. I used to hate it, really really dislike it, because it’s very brash, loud music, especially the horns. If you haven’t yet accepted that you like salsa, it can be very easy to dislike. Also, as a kid, singing in a different language put me off. I’d say, “mum, what’s this?” and I’d turn it off. I never liked it. But then a few years ago, as an adult, I stumbled across salsa again, and suddenly I thought “this is the best music of all time.” I started listening to loads of it. Albums like Siembre by Rubén Blades and Willie Colón, and Celia And Johnny by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco. I came across lots of albums by this guy Héctor Lavoe. There’s a load he did with Willie Colon, another legend of the genre. Lavoe is an amazing singer, a really brilliant singer.

The thing about salsa that’s so great is that it’s extremely complex, all the parts are for real virtuosos of their genre. But it’s so accessible. Really easy to get into. Anyone can enjoy it. It’s joyful music, it makes you want to dance. The arrangements are always impeccable, and the horns are always tight. That’s the thing with the music itself, it's Latin music, but they only got the classic salsa sound when they emigrated to New York. So it’s not from one country, it’s a mix of the Cuban, Mexican, Puetro Rican, Brazilian, taking in elements of Latin jazz, to make something wholly new.

Comedia is just wonderful, my favourite album of the genre. So you have songs that are complicated, wonderful, jazzy, and cinematic, whilst also being extremely danceable, fun, emotional and passionate. It’s a very varied album, too. ‘Comedia’, the title track, is a ballad. It’s an amazing and really passionate song. I don’t speak Spanish, so I don’t understand the lyrical content, but even without that it’s really powerful music – the meaning finds its way through somehow. Lavoe’s voice is sensational, and the way in which it is sung is completely infectious.