Charo, or Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza as her parents would have known her, is a Spanish-American singer, actress, comedienne and flamenco guitarist well known back in the day for her somewhat flamboyant style and her catchphrase “Cuchi-Cuchi” (‘Cuchi’ is a Spanish slang term for a woman’s genitals. However, Spanish speaking countries often have local dialect for the term. In Venezuela, it refers to something pleasing to the eye.” Thanks Ask.com). She’s done films, television (she was a regular on The Love Boat by all accounts but that was all before my time)… and she was voted Best Flamenco Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine…TWICE!
“Cuchi – Cuchi” is Charo’s first album and is recorded alongside the amazing Salsoul Orchestra and was released on the Salsoul label in ’77 and is about to see its re-release on Big Break Records where it’s been remastered and comes with extra mixes and sleeve-notes.
The album was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with Salsoul Orchestra’s leader Vince Montana taking on production, mixing, arranging and some playing duties.
The opening tune “Dance a Little Bit Closer” is a pure disco tune with Charo’s thick Spanish accented English language vocals over the top – it’s fun and it’s great. Next up is a version of the Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” which is all a bit Margarita Pracatan if you take it seriously, but it’s got a real Latin tinge to it and you can’t help but like it – it’s also got a classic Salsoul break down at around two minutes.
“Borriquito” has Charo singing in her native Spanish and she implores us to dance the Flamenco Disco and again it’s all a bit “French Campsite After Far Too Many Whiskey Cocas” (don’t ask) but all this is forgiven if you take it at face value, lose your inhibitions and get into it. “Speedy Gonzalez” – you’ll know the tune I’m sure – is fabulous in its kitsch kind of way and then comes the title track “Cuchi-Cuchi” which is a great big slice of disco pie with Charo’s Superwhip vocals smothered all over the top of it.
The remix of “Dance a Little Bit Closer” and (the brilliant) remix of “Cuchi – Cuchi” are well worth the effort but I could have taken or left the final Xmasy track “Mamacita Donde Esta Santa Claus?”
Grab a great big spoon and fill your face!