The Most Essential Latin Albums of the Last 50 Years

By | 03 January, 2019

Over the course of the five decades, Latin music has become one of the most influential sounds, giving birth to some of the most popular productions in genres like salsa, merengue, Latin rock and Mexican music. The music industry has also witnessed the rise of globally known names, like Carlos Santana, Enrique Iglesias, Selena, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin, Tito Puente, and many, many more. These names are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to the best-sold albums, singles, most popular Latin songs and Latin albums of all times. Therefore, in order to fully enjoy the Latin sound, it is essential to know the history, so let’s take a look at some of the best and most essential Latin albums of the last 50 years.

Let us just preface the list by stating that the following albums may not be the best-selling albums in the world. These albums have been acknowledged by the critics and audiences as groundbreaking works by Latin artists. Some records may be a personal choice too, so we hope you agree with our list.

Buena Vista Social Club (1997)

Buena Vista Social Club is the debut album by an ensemble of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and the famous American guitarist, Ry Cooder. The album was recorded at Havana’s EGREM studios in just six days; it was finalized in March 1996 and released on September 16, 1997, hitting the worldwide music charts instantly. The album contains 14 tracks, opening with probably the most famous one, “Chan, Chan”, which was written by Compay Segundo. The album ends with a rendition of “La Bayamesa”, known as a traditional patriotic song of Cuba.

The critical reviews of the album are definitely in favor of the son cubano tradition on the album, which is the ensemble’s signature sound and a winning formula that skyrocketed the record into the world. The album was ranked number 260 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Cachao – Master Sessions Vol.1 (1994)

The Master Sessions Vol.1 album is yet another masterpiece of the Cuban sound. This album is Cachao’s best and most vibrant compilation of piano sounds melting together with effortless tumbao bass, clarinet and beautiful folklore, rhumba and mambo. The album also provides some breathtaking tunes and unusual sounds that combine other genres, like danzón, descarga (improvised jam sessions), and the indispensable son cubano. These sounds are the crucial ingredients of the Latin sound and the sounds of the Caribbean too.

Cachao’s Master Sessions really developed and refined the role of the bass in the Latin American music, but the album also demonstrated Cachao’s power on this instrument. In 1994, Cachao won a Grammy for Master Sessions Vol.1, and, later on, continued winning Grammy awards for albums like El Arte del Sabor and Ahora Si!.

Soda Stereo – Me Veras Volver: Hits & + (2007)

Soda Stereo is one of the most influential artists in Latin American music; this Argentine rock band released Me Veras Volver (Hits & +) as a compilation album which soon turned out to be one of the most comprehensive Argentinian band productions in the Latin American music industry. The album had an enormous impact on Latin Rock as it comprises some of the best songs recorded by Soda Stereo, like “Cuando Pase El Temblor”, “De Musica Ligera”, and “Nada Personal”. The leader of the bend is the talented singer Gustavo Cerati, who also wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks on the album, except “Tratame Suavemente”.

Santana – Abraxas (1970)

According to Billboard, the Latin rock band Santana’s album Abraxas gave them a worldwide reach. This was the second studio album of the group, which was in 2003 ranked number 207 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Alongside Buena Vista Social Club, Abraxas was the second and final non-American and non-English album on the list. Abraxas has also skyrocketed Carlos Santana’s career, who became one of the greatest guitarists of all time, winning 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.

The legacy of this album is enormous for the Latin American music industry. Abraxas was deemed as a cultural statement, a historical and artistic expression of Santana and an album worthy of preservation in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Rosalia – El Mal Querer (2018)

El Mal Querer is the second studio album by Spanish singer Rosalia. The album was released on November 2nd, 2018, instantly climbing the charts with Rosalia’s break-through single “Malamente” and the follow-up single “Pienso en Tu Mira”. El Mal Querer features an addictive mash-up of flamenco, electronic beats and urban attitude, according to Billboard’s 20 Best Latin Albums of 2018. Some of the songs on the album may seem more traditional, or to be a sample of Spanish folkloric music, but Rosalia’s samples on the album are much more profound. The Spanish song is definitely the root of this album which grew into a modern, pop-culture phenomenon.

The music critics were quick to commend Rosalia and the album itself, claiming El Mal Querer to be a springboard for this new Latin talent. Many critics also agree that the freshness of the album, Rosalia’s vocal skills and the conceptual presentation of the music videos were the main ingredients leading to great global success. The critics and the music industry are watching Rosalia closely, expecting this fascinating ‘hybrid’ to bring Latin music to its peak in 2019.

Final words…

And that’s the list of the most essential, groundbreaking and most important Latin albums of the past 50 years, according to us. Make sure to give them a listen and see for yourself. The music of these albums is great to enjoy by yourself while working at the best essay writing service in Toronto, or at a chill and relaxing party with your friends. Bring out the fresh or the old-school tunes of the Latin American music and let everybody admire your excellent taste in music.

Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.