Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra – Viva Cugat

This crazy Cugat record (is there any other kind?) is a BALL and has absolutely amazing Demo Disc quality sound on side two, better than Super Hot Stamper quality. 

It sounds like Henry Mancini on speed, and the recording quality puts most of Mancini’s records to shame to boot. This is Bachelor Pad music for those who like their Bachelor Pad to be FUN!

Side Two

With A++ to A+++ sound this side is pretty much doing it all. So spacious! And such tremendous low and high frequency extension, the kind that vintage records usually have trouble with. Not this copy. The strings and horns can get slightly aggressive

Make sure you have your VTA set dead right or this record will be a mess. Careful adjustment is critical to reproduce this kind of complex and lively sound.

Side One

A+ to A++, here we have some of that aggressive Mercury sound getting out of control. At moderate levels it’s fine but turn it up and it can really tear your head off in places.

Super 3-D spaciousness, just exactly what we expect from Mercury back in the day. (The brightness on side one is also to be expected of course.)

Avaxhome Commentary

A disc full of the Latin rhythms Xavier made familiar to us all. Three sessions spread out over three days, each with a slightly different collection of instruments in differing configurations. The extensive liner notes actually give us a diagram of the orchestra arrangement for each of the sessions along with a blow-by-blow account of each musical selection.

And the artist bio is fascinating. From being discovered playing the violin in Spain by Enrico Caruso to working as a cartoonist for the LA Times and producing caricatures for Life magazine to being the conduit for many of Cuba’s emerging musicians (including Desi Arnaz) the man has many talents. Cugat is also known for his additions to the Latin dance canon. Rhumba king, mambo man or connoisseur of the conga it’s all good and fills you with that heady feeling of hot tropical nights and tall coll drinks.

And even if none of the above work had ever existed, just look at that cover will ya? Hang this sucker up over the bar and get down the rum bottle, this is going to be a long night.


Side One

Jungle Concerto 
The Peanut Vendor
Tropical Merengue 
Isle of Capri

Side Two

Jungle Drums
Maria Elena 
Say Si Si