Silvio Rodriguez – Cuba Classics 1: Canciones Urgentes

If you have never heard the music of Silvio Rodríguez, then please do me a favour: do not buy this album. It’s a deeply distorted survey of his output, favouring some of his worst mistakes over some of his most sublime successes. Even when first released in 1991, the selection was questionable. Fifteen years and half a dozen albums later it’s an unpardonable offence to the artist’s reputation.

The 80s were a low point in Rodríguez’ career, seeing a descent into tasteless synth arrangements (electronic handclaps, anyone?); worse, the musical quality of the songs declined sharply, the breathtaking poignancy and originality of his earlier gift giving way to an increasingly maudlin sensiblility. That a collection made in 1991 should feature only three songs from the classic albums of the (all from Días y flores) is I hope due to contractual difficulties — otherwise it’s inexplicable.
Silvio Rodríguez’ was an essential voice in the Cuba of the late 60s and 70s. With his paper-thin vocal tone and understated virtuosity as poet, guitarist and crafter of songs, he forged an idiom in which complex imagery, political passion and romanticism united to give voice to a post-revolutionary generation disaffected from the traditional Cuban rhythms and genres, and the artificiality of their subject matter. The songs that resulted are unique creations with a universality which has inspired a passionate fan-base across America and worldwide (and incidentally helped spawn the nueva trova genre).
The good news is that the last fifteen years have seen a wholesale return to form, with new classics such as Descartes and Mariposas, in which a sadder, more fragile Rodríguez brings the disillusion of age to bear on unpublished early songs, back at home with his guitar and some much more sensitive collaborators and arrangements.
Thus the injustice. The album has some high points — ‘La maza’ and ‘Sueño con serpientes’ in particular are essential Silvio. But the waters should be allowed to close over such aberrations as ‘No hacen falta alas’ or ‘O melancolía’. And there’s no denying the popularity of ‘Unicornio’, but the song has done damage to the composer’s reputation among people of taste. If you’re a newcomer, go back to the early albums: Días y flores, Mujeres, Al final de este viaje. To catch up, start again in the mid-90s. But leave this one on the shelf.
Track listing:
Sueño de una noche de verano
Causas y azares
Como esperando abril
Playa girón
Canto arena
La maza
Canción urgente para Nicaragua
Sueño con Serpientes
Nuestro tema
No hacen falta alas
O melancolía
Luaka Bop VVR1030032
And just before I go into hiding, here is the track listing of my ideal Silvio Rodríguez album:
La maza
Esta canción
Yo digo que las estrellas
En el claro de la luna
Santiago de Chile
Días y flores
Playa Girón
Pequeña serenata diurna
Ya no te espero
Te doy una canción
Cierta historia de amor
¿A dónde van?
Esto no es una elegía
Y nada más
Tu imagen
En busca de un sueño
La tonada inasible
What’s yours?

  • Ana Lilia Holman

    I have all of Silvio’s songs and he is the best of the best although there is a friend of mine named Alexandro Filio and I highly recommend his music. In fact Silvio and Alexandro recorded a song together about 2 years ago the album is called UN Secreto a Voces. It is great!

  • merieliz lliteras

    his music was the only onethat went thru y soul and clarify questions,doubts and made keep on walking thru my path….thanks sylvio!1!

  • Dennis Garcia

    I think this album is very good, however all the Silvio’s songs are very good

  • valeria santander

    bueno que mas puedo decir todo esta dicho,y silvio sigue haciendo de las suya con su maravilloza musica….i love you… la ausencia y de ti…

  • diego andres garcia soto

    por fabor en la pagina principal coloquen sus mejores canciones para poderlas escuchar.

  • Scott Miller

    Agreed – this relies way too heavily on his mid-80s work. But the instrumentation doesn’t bother me if the song is good. For example, “Yo Soy Como Soy” (1984) has some of the cheesiest keyboards imaginable, but it’s one of my favorite Silvio songs.
    My top 20 (could easily be “top 200″) Silvio songs:
    1. Companera
    2. Casiopea
    3. Ala de Colibri
    4. Sueno con Serpientes
    5. Por Quien Merece Amor
    6. Mujeres
    7. Cancion del Elegido
    8. Dias y Flores
    9. La Gota de Rocio
    10. Vamos Andar
    11. Cancion de Invierno
    12. Venga la Esperanza
    13. A Donde Van?
    14. Canto Arena
    15. Con Diez Anos de Menos
    16. Domingo
    17. Llueve Sobre Mojado
    18. Resumen de Noticias
    19. De la Ausencia y de Ti
    20. Si Tengo Un Hermano
    There is also a ton of incredible unreleased stuff, the best being “Navegando Nubes” and “Cancion Contra La Indecision.” They’ll break your heart …

  • Cosette

    I think this CD is wonderful.. the songs are spectacular.. But I agree that are better songs than those..
    I like these ones:
    El papalote
    Te doy una canci??n
    Unicornio Azul
    Quien fuera
    Por quien merece amor
    Canci??n del elegido
    Rabo de Nube
    Nuestro tema

  • damian rafferty

    The album you want is ‘Al final de este viaje…’ and it can be bought from Amazon

  • Bodra

    I am looking for a song by Sylvio Rodriquez called, Ojala and the album it is on. Looking for the lyrics as will. Can anyone help me?

  • frisly

    for mi Silvio Rodriguez is mi favorite singer the musica trova, and exorto that ahead it follows for the century for century