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Willy Chirino: My Beatles Heart 

Cuban-born, Miami-based Willy Chirino is one of the world's best salsa producers, but he's not even trying. His thing is being Willy Chirino, and with Oxígeno (1991) he added neurons, crisp production, sophisticated arrangements, and smart, edgy singles to the usually cheesy Miami sound. But Chirino's talent has always been dumbed down by his hatred for Fidel Castro, resulting in his pitiful populist right-wing hymns. Chirino, a refugee, has been predicting Fidel's demise since time immemorial. While he resisted the temptation to title a track "With a Little Help from the GOP" on his Beatles salsa/merengue tribute, Chirino still loses points for ignoring the fact that unless your name is Juan Luis Guerra you should stay the fuck away from merengue. If you're going to dress up Beatles songs in Latin rhythms, hard salsa and (perhaps) boleros are the way to go. The only reason My Beatles Heart is not a complete fiasco is due to Chirino's studio prowess — that and the fact that he knows these songs, he breathes them. Highlights: the horn section of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" inserted into "Yellow Submarine," and "Sun King" sandwiched between two furious slices of "Helter Skelter." For dancers only.

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September 9, 2020

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