The New York Band
Reviewed on this page:
Wilfrido Vargas Presenta -
The New York Band -
Nadie Como Tú -
Dame Vida... Always -
Sudando Amor -
Poder De Acero
I may be wrong about this, but I believe this group was formed by Dominican trumpeter/bandleader Wilfrido Vargas as a way to integrate merengue with other Caribbean music forms like salsa, soca and conpa, while drawing in the youth market with romantic themes and photogenic male and female singers.
By the late 80s, the New York Band was run by producer Chery Jiménez, who installed his son Cherito as primary lead singer (as
well as an effective songwriter). They made their mark with a couple of
romantic merengues, following the trail blazed by Juan Luis Guerra. and by announcing their band
name in every single song. Most popular as a quartet with Alexandra,
Johnny, and Miosotis, the group went through a number of lineup
changes - the most recent album I have features an
all-male lineup, with Cherito the only holdover. None of them
have been great singers, but the constant has been catchy dance music
that never got too complicated, and because Cherito's a good songwriter, and both he and his father are
savvy producers, you could never count them out completely. Speaking of which, Cherito put out a solo disc as Chery X, and is threatening to mount a comeback. (DBW)
As of 1986, vocalists included Franklyn Rivers, Irisneyda and Magda Lake.
By 1989, they had been replaced by Cherito Jiménez, Alexandra, Johnny and
Miosotis. Johnny and Alexandra replaced by
Tony and Maggie, 1992. Johnny and Maggie replaced by
Andy and Ariel, around 1995.
Wilfrido Vargas Presenta (1986)
Vargas maps out his strategy with the opening tracks: The upbeat soca "Zombie" - originally by Arrow, I think - and then gringo weeper "The Power Of Love" (retitled "Si Tu Eres Mi Hombre") are cross-pollinated with merengue, and delivered with alternating male/female voices (Sonia Silvestri and Vargas himself on "Zombie").
It's rich ground (if an obvious idea in hindsight), and at times the album is as catchy as it is kitschy ("Tarzan Boy," a single; "San Zarabamba").
At this stage, though, the group's own compositions are mostly dry and forgettable ("Que Siga La Vida").
The New York Band (1987)
Often known as Juicy Lucy for the leadoff tune originally a hit for Tabou Combo, though no title appears on the LP itself.
Four tracks arranged by Manuel Tejada, the rest by Sonny Ovalle, and they stick to a basic merengue template even when the tunes are from other sources.
Four singers are shown on the cover, not sure who they are... Help?
The New York Band (1988)
My CD shows a 1991 copyright, but internet sources who appear well informed state that the disc is from 1988. I don't know if this was the last appearance of Franklyn and Irisneyda or the first appearance of Chery - I suspect the former, because I don't hear any trademarks of the latter.
Whoever the singers are, they deliver some romantic salsa including the similarly-named "Y Tú No Estás" and "Si Tú No Estás," but they're routine. The best song here is a
straight merengue, "María" sung (I believe) by Johnny, but even that's
nothing special. Although heavyweights Palmer Hernandez and Jorge Luis Piloto write one
tune each, most of the tracks are by people I've never heard of like
Mari Trini, Sullivan Massadas, and Nano Prado.
Nadie Como Tú (1989)
The group rises to their apex here, with
Alexandra belting out sly salsa like "Mejor Me Mato" and "Házme
Tuya" (both by Palmer Hernandez), and Cherito exploring
Caribbean rhythms on "Dancing Mood" (originally written by Arrow), and
contributing the plaintive "Quiero Ser Todo En Tu Vida." Most of the
arrangements are by Tejada, who shows verve as well as
versatility even on the lesser tracks ("Los Defectos De Dolores," sung
by Johnny, whose voice is nothing to write home about). The album's
highlight, though, is the lovely Cherito-penned title track present in
both salsa (arranged by Sergio
George) and merengue versions - the merengue was the hit, and it's a
masterpiece of dramatic arranging. Miosotis is featured on the album
cover but doesn't sing any leads, which makes me think she only joined
after the record was already in the can. This can't rate higher
because it's so unoriginal, but it's very enjoyable. (DBW)
Dame Vida... Always (1990)
They basically repeat the formula, only the tunes aren't quite as good:
Cherito's "Dame Vida" is a love song in two versions, merengue and
"tecnobachata"; "Always" is a ballad with embarrassing
English-language lyrics. There are some other dance
numbers ("Si Lo Supieras, Volverias"), one punta/soca blend ("Chin
Pun... Calla'o") and a spooky cross between merengue and Michael Jackson-style electronic funk, "Ayudame
A Encontrar El Amor." Most tunes are written by Cherito, Palmer
Hernandez or Mario Diaz, and arrangements are by Tejada or George, so
it's all solid and professional. This time many of the cuts are duets
("Corazón de Azúcar"), but since they were switching off
leads anyway, this makes less difference than you might think. This
time Johnny wasn't shown on the album cover, though he was clearly still
in the band. Go figure. (DBW)
I have seen this one around, but not often. (DBW)
Sudando Amor (1992)
Johnny and Alexandra were replaced by Tony and Maggie, and there's
another sudden shift of direction. Cherito dominates the songwriting
this time, and even co-produces, but he doesn't come up with anything
original or particularly catchy: the title track borrows
from Haitian dance band Tabou Combo again ("Zap-Zap" this time) and it's one of the record's best tunes.
The soca influence is very strong (Arrow's "Longtime-Baila Tus
Problemas"), but the band doesn't do anything interesting with it ("Ohe!
Pa' La Calle (1993)
Poder De Acero (1995)
By now the trend was merengue tipico, a simpler accordion-based style
exemplified by Francisco Ulloa, and
the band follows right along (though they use synth instead of
accordion). I find this style repetitive and
monotonous even when a genius like Juan Luis Guerra is doing it, and I'm
certainly not crazy about Cherito's take on it: the breakneck
arpeggiation and relentless three-chord structures are energetically
performed ("Pónteme A La Tantalá"), but they still drive
me crazy after a while. It doesn't help that the new boys (Ariel and
Andy joining Cherito and Tony) can barely sing. Fortunately there is
some relief: "Te Voy A Volver Loca" is a pleasant ballad (by
Cherito), "Caña" is high-voltage salsa fun.
Going North (1995)
North from New York? To where, Maine?
Si lo supieras, volverias.