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SONIDOS LATINOS / LATIN SOUNDS / The Best of Selena Lives On

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."

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

listen.)

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

"Together."

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.

Reader's Picks

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.

11747.

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