Ralfi Pagan is considered by this writer as the epitome of Latin Soul; with all respect to Mr. Joe Bataan. The smoothness of his voice, combined with excellent musical arrangements and vocal backgrounds create an aura of romance and recalls the heartbreak that life hands us at times. Tragically, Ralfi Pagan was murdered during a promotional tour in Colombia, in 1978, at the age of 31. The case remains unsolved.
Fortunately, Ralfi has endowed us with a collection of fine recordings so superbly produced by Fania Records. His 1971 album titled With Love is exemplary of his talents and remains praise-worthy to his many old, and new, fans throughout the world. Ralfi, though idolized by soul music lovers everywhere, never brushed aside his Puerto Rican/Cuban heritage; always including Spanish-lyric songs and bolero rhythms to his repertoire as in “No Soy De Ti,” which breaks into a cha-cha fade. He also recorded some hot salsa numbers in his limited repertoire of five albums, including a 1978 release on Pumkris Records.
The first title of his With Love album is “Make It With You,” which was originally recorded by the group, Bread, and made it all the way to the top of the Billboard charts for Bread. Ralfi’s version has his own style of Latin Soul vocalizing and is directed to this specialized genre of music. The narration so expertly done on “To Say I Love You” reminds us of the intimacy generated by another Latin Soul crooner, Jimmy Sabater. Smokey Robinson’s “Ooo Baby Baby” is splendidly covered by Ralfi in a doo-wop style recording reminiscent of the sound of the fifties. Latin-soul lovers will adore Ralfi Pagan’s With Love.