This is the record that started all the recent Cuban craze. A simplified version of the story: Son, danzon and bolero were played in thriving clubs in Havana before WWII and in years following it. Compay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo and the rest were masters of the art. Then in 1959 Castro liberated - or invaded, as you like it - Cuba and virtually isolated it from the rest of the world. And while outside the music became MTV-ized and globalized to the point where the music produced in Sweden is indistinguishable from that made in California, the guys in Cuba continued to do what they did best: they played son, danzon and bolero - all until Ry Cooder discovered them in 1997 and turned them into a success that vastly overshadowed his own musical efforts.
Actually, getting them together required some detective work, as some of them have already given up their musical careers. Hardly surprising: Ruben Gonzales is 80, and Compay Segundo is 92. Buena Vista Social Club - named after an actual club in Havana, demolished already for decades - provides an anthological overview of styles played 50 years ago, and the sound you might recognize on your father's (or grandfather's) LP's. Well, almost - Ry Cooder felt the urge to put some personal touch on the whole thing, in form of slide guitar (cf. "Orgullecida"). I wish he could resist the temptation. Still, it's a very beautiful and romantic record, one that makes you ask your sweetheart for a dance.
CD comes with a 48-page booklet, which includes bilingual (Spanish/English) lyrics and some accompanying text. If you like this record, you might also want to check the solo albums that followed. There is also a pseudo-documentary movie by the same name, directed by Wim Wenders. And, go and check whether Afro-Cuban All Stars are touring somewhere near you.