Cuba & Opinions on Pops Staples

Sound Opinions gasses up the byplane and makes its next stop on the World Tour: Cuba. Later they review the posthumous release from gospel icon Pops Staples.

Subscribe via iTunesDownload This Episode

Music News

This week, successful solo singer Lesley Gore died from lung cancer at age 68. The "You Don't Own Me" and "It's My Party" singer was best known for her work as a teen, singing about heartbreak and female empowerment. But, while the height of her popularlity hit in the 1960's, later artists like Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett and Klaus Nomi covered her work. Gore also became very active in the LGBTQ community and was working on a Broadway show and a memoir before her death.

world tour



After stops in countries like South Africa, Japan, and Sweden, the Sound Opinions World Tour is trekking on. Jim and Greg hop over to Cuba, inspired by the historic changes in U.S.-Cuban relations announced recently by President Obama. Their guide to Cuba's influential rhythms is Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Ned tells us that Cuba has been alive with music ever since the sixteenth century. Drawing upon its unique ethnic history, Cuba developed a polyrhythmic style quite different from what emerged in North America. Innovative artists like Arsenio Rodríguez brought Cuban dance music into maturity during World War II. The unshakeable rhythms of the mambo, rumba, and cha-cha-chá filtered into the United States, particularly in the world of jazzDizzy Gillespie's collaborations with Chano Pozo changed music forever. Rock ‘n’ roll and the blues also adopted Afro-Cuban flavors. Even after Cuba's isolation following the 1959 revolution, the music never stopped, according to Ned. Nueva trova, for example, a movement led by singer-songwriters like Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, began to fuse revolutionary politics and idealism with traditional song forms. Cuban rhythms also provided the basis for the global salsa phenomenon of the '70s. Today music in Cuba thrives in both traditional genres and in modern ones like reggaeton. Though he's not personally a fan of the hit 1997 Buena Vista Social Club album, Ned was happy to see North Americans reengage with Cuban artists. With the political changes underway, he expects to see an even more exciting cultural exchange between Cuban musicians and the rest of the world.

reviewDon't Lose ThisDon't Lose This available on iTunes

Pops Staples Don't Lose This

Reviewing a posthumous release is a tricky thing. You want to honor a great artist with a glowing review, but inevitably there's always something lacking. Jim and Greg agree on this when it comes to Pops Staples' final album, Don't Lose This, released 15 years after it the music was recorded and after the artist died. Having Pops on record so late in his life is like a gift to music fans, but Jim hears his voice deteriorating and compares it to Johnny Cash's recordings with Rick Rubin. Greg agrees that this isn‘t Pops’ best work or the place to start with The Staples Singers. But, both critics hear standout songwriting moments that still resonate today. Indeed: “Don't Lose This.” The album, produced by Jeff Tweedy, gets a double Try It.


Featured Songs

  1. Lesley Gore, Take Good Care (of My Heart), Take Good Care (of My Heart) (Single), Mercury, 1969
  2. Lesley Gore, You Don't Own Me, Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts, Mercury, 1963
  3. Buena Vista Social Club, De Camino a La Vereda, Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit Records, 1997
  4. Los Van Van, Que Sorpresa, Lo Ultimo en Vivo, Qbadisc Records, 1995
  5. Pedro Luis Ferrer, Mariposa, Pedro Luis Ferrer, EGREM, 1973
  6. Buena Vista Social Club, Candela, Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit Records, 1997
  7. Aaron Neville, Tell It Like It Is, Tell It Like It Is (Single), Par-Lo Records, 1966
  8. Count Basie, Swingin' the Blues, Sent For You Yesterday and Here You Come Today (Single), Decca, 1938
  9. Miguelito Cuní y Felix Chapottín, Canto al Monte, Cuban Counterpoint: History of the Son Montuno, Rounder, 1992
  10. Abbilona, Elleguá, Oggún ochosi, Elleguá, Oggún y Ochosi, Caribe, 2006
  11. Arsenio Rodriguez, El Rincón Caliente, El Rincón Caliente (Single), RCA, 1950
  12. Beny Moré, Elige Tú Que Canto Yo, The Most From Beny Moré, Cariño, 1965
  13. Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra, El Manisero, El Manisero ("The Peanut Vendor") (Single), Victor, 1930
  14. Dizzy Gillespie, Manteca (live), Manteca (Single), RCA, 1947
  15. René Touzet, El Loco Cha Cha, El Loco Cha Cha (Single), GNP Crescendo, 1956
  16. Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley (Single), Checker, 1955
  17. Muddy Waters, She's Into Something, Trouble No More, Chess, 1959
  18. Mongo Santamaría, Jamaicuba, Our Man in Havana, Fantasy, 1959
  19. NG La Banda, La Expresiva, En La Calle, Qbadisc, 1989
  20. Irakere, Bacalao Con Pan, Grupo Irakere, Areito, 1974
  21. Silvio Rodríguez, Fusil Contra Fusil, Hasta La Victoria Siempre, Che Querido, Casa de las Americas, 1971
  22. Carlos Varela, Robinson (Solo En Una Isla), Monedas al Aire, Qbadisc, 1991
  23. Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco, Quimbara, Celia & Johnny, Vaya, 1974
  24. Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC, Cuba Va, Cuba Va! Songs of the New Generation of Revolutionary Cuba, Areito, 1971
  25. Gente de Zona, El Animal, Lo Mejor Que Suena Ahora v2.0, Stomp Box, 2008
  26. Orishas, A Lo Cubano, A Lo Cubano, Universal Latino, 2000
  27. Buena Vista Social Club, Chan Chan, Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit Records, 1997
  28. Yosvany Terry, Laroko, New Throned King, 5Passion, 2014
  29. Arsenio Rodríguez, Anabacoa, El Alma de Cuba, RCA Victor, 1950
  30. Manolito y su Trabuco, Locos por mi Habana, Locos por mi Habana, EGREM, 2004
  31. Celina González, Santa Barbara, ¡Que Viva Changó!, Qbadisc, 1993
  32. Pops Staples, Better Home, Don't Lose This, Anti-, 2015
  33. Pops Staples, The Lady's Letter, Don't Lose This, Anti-, 2015
  34. Pops Staples, Father Father, Father Father, Virgin, 1994
  35. Blondie, Call Me, Call Me (Single), Chrysalis, 1980
  36. Elvis Costello & the Attractions, I Want You, Blood & Chocolate, Columbia, 1986
  37. Utopia, Secret Society, POV, Passport, 1985
  38. Bob Dylan, Restless Farewell, Times They Are A-Changin', Columbia, 1964
  39. Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass, All About That Bass (Single), Epic, 2014
  40. Olivia Newton-John, I Honestly Love You '98, I Honestly Love You '98 (Single), MCA, 1998

Footnotes Lesley Gore RIP Ned Sublette President Obama's Cuba statement U.S. - Cuban Relations & Music Don Azpiazu's El Manisero Dizzy Gillespie & Chano Pozo's Manteca Cuban rock and the Revolution Cuba cracks down on reggaeton Yosvany Terry Greg reviews Pops Staples Pops Staples Greg's Staples biography