Un Solo Pueblo,
(Vedisco, 1995)

Among North American fans of Latin music, Venezuelans tend to have a lower profile but that's no reason to discount their contribution.

Among Venezuelan music fans themselves, the highest praise is often reserved for Un Solo Pueblo, a veteran band that has explored all aspects of the country's music, with musical influences from all over the Hispanic Caribbean. This testimony long had me intrigued. After scouring record stores and the Internet for years, I finally discovered this collection on Amazon.com and was well rewarded.

Venezuela makes up only partially for the fact that none of Un Solo Pueblo's 25 discs is readily available in North America. It contains 14 songs that are justifiably classics in Venezuela including "Viva Venezuela" and "Woman del Callao."

The momentum never stops from start to finish, with several singers taking the lead in turn. The band finds a groove somewhere in the salsa-meringue continuum, with elements of Cuban son, cumbia and vallenato music, and local influences as well: lots of percussion, horns, great bass and an intense, fast-moving beat. With this group, the question is not whether you can dance to their music, it is whether you can stop dancing to it.

The lyrics reflect the intense love of country, "mi patria querida" shared by Venezuelans. The songs also distill a quarter century of touring the country -- nation building if you will -- and developing their repertoire from songs found in different regions of the country from the deserts to the mountains and plains (llanos) to the coastal areas. "Woman del Callao," for instance, is a calipso (note the local spelling) from an outlying province exposed to Trinidadian influences, containing the hybrid Spanish-English lyric: "tiene mucho hot/tiene mucho tempo/tiene mucho down/woman del Callao," a lyric known to practically everyone in Venezuela.

"Caracas Caracas" (which can also be heard on The Rough Guide to Venezuelan Music) is also a classic, almost an anthem; as is "Viva Venezuela," which recounts Simon Bolivar's liberation of much of South America from the Spanish Empire. "Viva Venezuela, mi patria querida/quien la liberto mi hermano fue Simon Bolivar."

Unfortunately lyrics are not provided in this collection, nor are any other details about this band (and my Spanish is somewhat imperfect). Be that as it may, this is a band not to be missed, and a disc I recommend to anyone looking for something different in Latin-American music.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 1 May 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.