Compilations of romantic Latin standards are about as common as compilations of Cuban music, with the main difference being that they've been floating around for years.

Compilations of romantic Latin standards are about as common as compilations of Cuban music, with the main difference being that they've been floating around for years. What sets Latin Lovers apart is the fact that it arrives via a non-Latin label (as part of Rhino's Heart Beat series) and as such, may reach an audience not entirely familiar with this music. This fan uses the word "entirely" because the spotlighted repertoire—from the '30s, '40s and '50s—is all tried and true. It includes what many consider some of the best Spanish-language songs of all time, performed by some of the best interpreters of all time (Lola Beltrán with "Noche de Ronda" and "Solamente Una Vez," Los Tres Ases with "El Reloj," Pedro Vargas with "Piel Canela," to name a few). Rhino is to be commended for finding some of the most representative renditions of the material and at the same time, affording variety; the trio-format "El Reloj," for example, is in sharp contrast to José Alfredo Jiménez's mariachi rendition of "Si Nos Dejan" and Benny Moré's tropical version of the bolero "Cómo Fue." Non-Spanish speakers, though, may be slightly confounded by the English translations (in the CD booklet), which don't always capture the same emotion as the originals.—LC