PERHAPS the deepest tragedy about Selena is the knowledge that she was
destined for greatness. This was a young lady who seemed to have it all.
She was uncommonly beautiful - so radiant, in fact, that even Jennifer
Lopez could only suggest her essence in the Gregory Nava-directed biopic
Selena was a superb stage performer who had an exceptional rapport
with her adoring audiences. As her appearances on the telenovela (soap
opera) "Dos Mujeras un Camino" showed, Selena could act as well.
Charming and funny, she was a prized chat-show guest. And she had the
voice of an angel. What a talent; what a tragedy.
Thankfully, the music remains. The recently released "All My Hits -
Todos Mis Exitos" on EMI Latin is a sharp 16-cut compendium that
captures Selena at her versatile best.
Such was the Mexican-American Selena's flair that she obliterated
the geographical boundaries of Tejano music. Her emotional vocal purity
turned mariachi songs such as "Tu, Solo Tu" and "Que Creias?" into
international hits. (The extra throb in her throat on these tunes is
truly heartrending.) Those same supple vocals could turn simplistic
rhythmic compositions such as "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and "Baila Esta
Cumbia" into hip-swaying romps.
She was expanding her musical vision toward the English pop market
in the months prior to her murder at age 23 on March 31, 1995. Her lush
tones transformed ballads such as "Dreaming of You" and "I Could Fall in
Love" into romantic anthems. And "I'm Getting Used to You" proves she
had a future in up-tempo R&B as well. Best of all is her "Disco
Medley." Recorded live at the Houston Astrodome in front of her roaring
fans, Selena rips through such ironically titled diva fare as "I Will
Survive," "Last Dance" and "On the Radio."
(For those seeking even more Selena, "Anthology - A 30 Song
Retrospective," a new 3-CD set also on EMI Latin, is another worthy
Many of Selena's peppiest hits were composed and arranged by her
bass-playing brother, A.B. Quintanilla III. Backed by his group, Los
Kumbia Kings, he has come out with a fine debut LP on EMI Latin titled
"Amor, Familia y Respeto." Aided by such guest stars as Roger, Sheila E.
and Nu Flavor, Quintanilla's octet eases its way through such breezy
fare as "Dime Quien" and "Reggae Kumbia." Even better is the exquisite
pop ballad "Cada Vez" and a top-notch remake of Tierra's slow jam
A guest guitarist on "Amor," Chris Perez, the widowed husband of
Selena, also has come out with a debut disc, "Resurrection," on
Hollywood Records. Crisply produced by Julian Raymond (Fastball, Suicide
Machines), this bilingual LP - eight songs in Spanish, seven in
English - rocks with authority. Whether it's the funky groove of the
title cut or the booming stadium sound of "Noches en Vela," Perez lays
down some searing Santana-like solos. And on songs such as "Best I
Can," abetted by vocalist John Garza, the anguish of his loss comes over
all too well. "Resurrection" is a brave - and quality - effort.
Rico Rodriguez of Nassau County has kindly provided Sonidos with a
list of his five favorite artists. They are:
1) Johnny Pacheco
2) Charlie Palmieri
3) Eddie Palmieri
4) Carlos Santana
5) Ray Barretto
We thank him and eagerly await other responses. Please mail lists of
your faves to Sonidos Latinos, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, N.Y.