Unlike most anthologies out there, Energy To Burn has no filler material to offer. The term “filler” is used within the recording industry to mean those subpar tracks that are used to complete an album. Energy To Burn, on the other hand, includes some of the best material that Ray Barretto recorded for the Fania label over the span of ten years – from Hard Hands to the Barretto LP.
We begin with the Rubén Blades composition “Canto Abacuá” from the Barretto album. This tune sheds a different light on the artistry of Blades – a deep contrast to the sound that he would eventually develop in his partnership with Willie Colón. Here, he is backed by a progressive band steeped in the harmonic approach that can generally be found in jazz. Check out the great Fender Rhodes solo by Gil López. The Arsenio Rodríguez composition “Bruca Maniguá” is culled from Que Viva La Música. Boasting Adalberto Santiago on vocals and a superlative trumpet solo by Roberto Rodríguez, this is possibly the best rendition of this tune since the original Arsenio recording. Vocalist Tito Allen makes an appearance on “Llanto De Cocodrilo” from Indestructible. The song was penned by Cuban composer René Miracles, but in the original release received the infamous “D.R.” (derechos reservados) credit. Hopefully, Mr. Miracles will now receive the credit that he deserves. Featuring Adalberto on vocals, “Vive Y Vacila” is a timeless gem from Together. This particular album marked the debut of bassist Andy González, following in the footsteps of legendary bassists like Bobby Rodríguez (Acid) and Bobby Valentín (Hard Hands). Felo Bergaza’s “Seguiré Sin Soñar” was included in The Message. It features Adalberto on vocals and Roberto Rodríguez on trumpet. Ray first heard this tune as performed by Cuban vocalist Elena Burke.
It captured his imagination, and he decided to record a new arrangement of the song – just like he did with another Burke inspired number, Juanito Márquez’s “Alma Con Alma.” The last two tracks on this release were composed by Ray. Both “Te Traigo Mi Son” (from The Message) and “Ahora Sí” (from Hard Hands) feature Adalberto on vocals. “Te Traigo Mi Son,” a swinging son montuno, includes a Louie Cruz piano solo, followed by a bongo solo from Johnny ‘Dandy’ Rodríguez – one of the finest percussionists to have played this music. Barretto brings the tune to a close with a rather short solo of his own.
The closing track “Ahora Sí” is yet another timeless gem. This is a tune directed at a former bandleader with whom Ray had his share of differences. It came out at a time when Ray was experiencing a sudden rise in popularity, and the former bandleader was experiencing the beginning of a downward slope. While Ray always held this individual in high esteem as a musician, he felt his personality left much to be desired. Nearing the end of a long and prosperous musical career, Ray found himself reminiscing fondly about the music that he recorded during the period represented on Energy To Burn. His dream was to record just one more Latin record with a repertoire steeped in the tradition heard on this collection. While he never got the opportunity to make this dream a reality, he always maintained that it was this music that made him who he was as an artist.
Liner Notes written by George Rivera Credits: Vocals – Rubén Blades (“Canto Abacuá”), Adalberto Santiago (“Bruca Maniguá,” Vive y Vacila,” “Seguire Son Soñar,” “Te Traigo Mi Son,” “Ahora Sí”), Tito Allen (“Llanto de Cocodrilo,” “El Hijo de Obatalá”) Producer – Ray Barretto Executive Producer – Jerry Masucci Coordinator – Jerry Masucci, Eve Charlack Original Album Photograph – Lee Marshall Original Album Design – Ron Levine Original Album Art Director – Elliot Sachs