Ismael Rivera’s Salsa Classic ‘Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco’ Set To Return

Originally released in 1972, this seminal title is back on vinyl and also making its digital debut in March.

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'Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco' cover artwork courtesy of Craft Latino

Craft Latino is proud to present an all-analog reissue of Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco, one of Ismael Rivera’s most remarkable albums with Rivera and Los Cachimbos performing at their apex. Accompanying was Cuban pianist, arranger, and composer Javier Vázquez, who had become a regular sideman with Rivera and later musical director of Los Cachimbos. He wrote all the arrangements on the release of Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco, the title of which is an expression common in the drug culture with a meaning akin to “what you see is what you get. “Dime Por Qué,” written by Pedro García, was the major hit of the album.

Rivera does a heartfelt interpretation of “Incomprendido,” recently sampled by Farruko and one of many Bobby Capó compositions he recorded. “San Miguel Arcangel” reflects his spiritual preoccupations, ending with an all-too-brief trumpet solo, presumably from Victor Paz. The personnel were not credited on the original vinyl release, but more than likely included Javier Vázquez on piano; Raimundo Vázquez, Javier’s brother, on bass; Carlos “Patato” Valdez, conga; Manolín González, alto sax; Harry D’Aguilar, trombone; Victor González, bongo; and Sammy Ayala in the coro (chorus). Ayala was a former colleague of Rivera’s in Cortijo y su Combo and Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco marked the first of six albums he recorded with Los Cachimbos.

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Soloing is scarce on this album. D’Aguilar takes a nice “bone” solo on “La Vaca Lechera” and there is a concise alto solo from Manolín González on “Maña-Maña”. Interestingly, the melody of the catchy yet dispensable “Maña-Maña” is derived from “Mah Na Mah Na,” written in 1968 by Piero Umiliani as a soundtrack for the documentary Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso (Sweden, Hell or Heaven) about sexual activity in Sweden. The song became popular in many countries including the United States from 1968-1969.

The tune got another lease of life when the Muppets performed it on television and then scored a hit with their 1976 recording entitled “Mahna Mahna”. Rivera soon became a major star, but his fame precipitated depression, which “made him temporarily turn away from his musical goal, searching for life’s highs through other channels,” as a 1978 Tico-Alegre Records handout coyly stated. Afterwards he reflected: “When I was punishing myself, I thought that I was hurting no one but myself.”

Apparently, his religious outlook and will to survive helped him recover and successfully resume his musical career. Later in life he developed polyps in his vocal cords and had to cease singing. He underwent surgery and treatment; but barely a month before a planned tribute concert in 1987, he succumbed to a massive heart attack. Puerto Rico virtually stood still during his funeral as if in a state of shock.

Out on March 3, 2023, the new edition of Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco, was cut all-analog from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio and pressed on 180-gram audiophile quality black vinyl in a single-pocket gatefold tip-on jacket. The album will also be released in hi-res digital for the first time, including 192/24 and 96/24 formats on March 3, 2023.

Pre-order Esto Fue Lo Que Trajo El Barco.

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