*** 1/2 Peret, “Rey de la Rumba,” Narada World
By Ernesto Lechner
In his native Spain, Peret (born Pedro Pubill Calaf) is known as the Elvis Presley of rumba. Not the rumba from Cuba, but the Gypsy rumba, a raucous melange that has its roots in the Spain's Catalonia region and incorporates flamenco, Afro-Cuban beats and a healthy dose of rock 'n' roll.
The singer was at his creative apex during the '70s, when he enjoyed a string of hits that he also wrote. New versions of some of those songs form the core of this exhilarating collection, which finds him collaborating with a different guest artist on each of the album's 15 tracks.
Peret has seen it all. He won the Eurovision Song Contest, converted to Christianity, retired from the biz and engineered a triumphant comeback, all in the span of 30 years. His experiences have made him a generous collaborator, and he lets his guests keep their own musical personalities. Thus, the childlike "Borriquito" becomes a natural for the rap shenanigans of Mexico's El Gran Silencio, while David Byrne's neurotic exclamations add twisted drama to the bilingual "Si Fulano." After a while, it all begins to feel a little schizophrenic, but few party albums exhibit as much zest for life as this one. Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.