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.