Bachata Rosa

by: Juan Luis Guerra 440

The follow-up album to Juan Luis Guerra's international breakthrough with Ojalá Que Llueva Café, Bachata Rosa is a milestone effort that spawned seven hit singles, garnered critical acclaim from all corners, and popularized bachata on an international scale. Generally considered Guerra's masterwork, Bachata Rosa is a departure from his previous four albums and sets the template for subsequent efforts with its mix of rousing merengues and romantic bachatas. In the case of Bachata Rosa, each side of the ten-song album opens and closes with an uptempo song, and three of the four are extraordinary ("Rosalia," "A Pedir Su Mano," "La Bilirrubina"). The middle of each five-song album side (and remember that Bachata Rosa was released at a time when there were separate A- and B-sides) is reserved for slow, romantic songs in a bachata style. Five of these six songs were released as singles ("Como Abeja al Panal," "Carta de Amor," "Estrellitas y Duendes," "Burbujas de Amor," "Bachata Rosa"). As some critics have noted, these songs aren't bachatas in a strict sense; rather, they fuse bachata with the bolero and ballad styles in the same way that Guerra's merengues are often fusions of other uptempo tropical styles like soca and salsa. In any event, Guerra is credited with popularizing bachata in the early '90s and rightfully so. Both "Burbujas de Amor" and "Estrellitas y Duendes" reached the Top Five of the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart, and Guerra won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. Anyone looking to explore his back catalog should look no further than Bachata Rosa. Not only is it his career-defining work, it's also one of the finest tropical albums of its era, or any other, for that matter. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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