various artists,
Here Comes ... el Son:
Songs of the Beatles with a Cuban Twist

(Panama, 2001)

Despite being banned in its heyday by Fidel Castro, Beatles music has been a major influence on modern Cuban music, as it has on so many other types of music around the world. Here Comes ... el Son was inspired by a book about an international symposium held in Havana to discuss Beatles music.

This was the first album recorded in Cuba but sung entirely in English. Everybody involved in the project was local, ensuring that it would be a purely Cuban tribute to the trendsetting British band. Instruments familiar in Britain, America and elsewhere -- violin, guitar, trumpet and double bass -- were used as well as instruments that give this album its Cuban feel -- maracas, tumbadora, bongo, guiro, paila, shekere and timbales.

I've heard a fair number of Beatles tributes, and this is one of the better ones. These versions of classic songs sound significantly different -- fresh and exciting -- simply because of the different instrumentation. Tracks include typical fare: "Hey Jude," "Eleanor Rigby," "Get Back," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Hello Goodbye," "Nowhere Man" and, of course, "Here Comes the Sun." But how did they ever manage to release an album of 18 Beatles songs without including "Yesterday"? I love that song, but it certainly makes a change to see a Beatles tribute without it.

- Rambles
written by Peter D. Harris
published 6 March 2004

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