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Various Artists Panama! 3: Calypso Panameño, Guajira Jazz & Cumbia Típica on the Isthmus 1960-75

Among Caribbean nations known for producing music, Cuba and Jamaica tend to soak up most of the attention, yet Panama has also proven to be particularly fertile ground for indigenous rhythms, as this latest collection of Isthmus-originated songs proves. Beginning with Lord Panama's "Fire Down Below," Panama! 3 sambas, calypsos, cumbias, and guarachas its way through 23 seminal Panamanian classics, all culled from the '60s to mid-'70s. Like its Caribbean cousins, Panamanian music blends native, Latin, American, and European influences into a backbeat-heavy, eminently danceable groovefest. Every song is good, so picking out favorites is pointless; it's perhaps more worthwhile to realize this cultural ancestor of today's Caribe-Latin fusionistas still packs a potent tropical punch.

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