In the late 60s many Cuban musicians residing in New York City began to combine Afro-Cuban jazz with North American soul music and RnB creating some of the most appealing groove music ever invented. Often called boogaloo, this music is near perfect in the way that it combines rhythm, tonality and syncopated melody to make an irresistible natural force that is hard to sit still to. Having just switched from the United Artist label to Fania in 1967, Ray Barretto decided to embrace this new style and mix it up with some salsa for his hot 1968 release, “Acid”. The first five tracks on this album are about the best you will find in this Cuban/soul crossover style, Barretto’s rhythm section is relentless and the double trumpet melodies of Rene Lopez and Roberto Rodriguez Jr ride perfectly on top. Although there are a few solos, most of the instrumental breaks on here consist of arranged syncopated trumpet melodies that drive the rhythm even harder.
The remaining three tracks are all good, but they don’t have quite the same focus as the openers. The closing cut, "Espirtu Libre", gets fairly avant-garde, which might help explain the album’s title and cover, which might otherwise seem misleading to some because by late 60s standards, this album is not particularly ‘psychedelic’. As already mentioned, “Acid” is a shining example for a genre that has so much going for it in the first place. When I listen to these cuts I’m reminded of other musical concepts that feature a similar perfect balance; James Brown’s early 70s funk, King Tubby’s first dub recordings, The Meters possibly.