Marc Anthony, "Iconos"
Covers albums can be a major risk, or an easy out. For Marc Anthony, here tackling songs that have been major hits--classics, actually--throughout Latin America and whose original performers are still alive and well, the repertoire choice was risky. But the outcome is surprising and often spectacular. These are covers that respect the spirit of the originals--heart-wrenching ballads, including Jose Jose's "Almohada" and "El Triste," and Jose Luis Perales' "Y Como Es El." But the arrangements are carefully thought out: the long, dream-like intro to "Almohada," the slow buildup of "Y Como Es El," which keeps the listener on his or her toes, waiting for the song to explode (which it doesn't until the third chorus). The clincher is Anthony's voice, perhaps the best of his generation, interpreting with just the right degree of emotion and intelligent nuance. Two new tracks ("A Quien Quiero Mentirle," "Maldita Sea Mi Suerte") close an album that merits multiple listens.