A re-creation and re-imagining of the classic 1993 album ‘La Candela Viva’.
"You don’t normally get the chance to go back in time and recreate an album. Building on a classic project that began 24 years ago is a challenge and a delight!" John Hollis, producer.
An invitation to perform at the WOMAD Festival led to Totó’s participation in the first Real World Recording Week and ultimately to the recording of the songs – with legendary American producer Phil Ramone at the controls in 1991 and English producer John Hollis for the follow-up sessions in 1992 – that would become La Candela Viva. The international success of La Candela Viva, and the following two albums Carmelina 1995 and Pacantó 1999 (MTM/Colombia), would ignite Totó’s career in Colombia and finally see her recognized as a star in her own country. The music has continued to endure, including being routinely sampled by the world of dance and hip-hop (Michel Cleis, Da R3volution and Timbaland, to name but a few).
It was during the search for the original master tapes to find the parts for a Michel Cleis dance track that producer (and now son-in-law of Totó) John Hollis discovered something rather remarkable. Amongst the original 2” master tapes was a treasure trove of material: some 40 takes of 20 different songs. Material all involved had forgotten existed, until then. Not only was there a wealth of recorded material from the La Candela Viva sessions that didn’t make the original album there were also a number of previously unreleased songs too.
To restore the analogue tapes, which would otherwise slowly deteriorate, the first job was to bake them (literally!) to remove any moisture that had accumulated, making them playable again. The recordings could then be digitised to work with modern technology. A process of reassessing all the different versions and new songs, re-editing and over-dubbing began. "At this point it occurred to me that Totó’s granddaughters would add a nice texture to some of the chorus lines,” explains John. Totó happily agreed: “Claro, ellos son mis choristas [of course, they are my backing singers].” Soon after, Maria del Mar and Oriana Melissa entered The Wood Room at Real World Studios, the very same space in which Totó and her band performed their set live 23 years earlier; Maria was present, a toddler at the time, and Oriana hadn’t been born. “It was a surreal moment and they delivered their parts beautifully,” adds John.
The result is Tambolero. More than just a re-release of La Candela Viva it is a genuine re-appraisal and re-imagining of the original. Tambolero is in effect a new album and one in which Totó La Momposina continues to reflect the experience of her native Colombia through her life and music. The two things are intertwined: the story of Totó La Momposina is truly the story of modern Colombia. It has also become a celebration of Totó’s professional career, which will soon reach a landmark 60 years – six decades dedicated to preserving, researching and developing an ancestral tradition, the identity of a people, passed down through the generations. This album is part of the REAL WORLD GOLD series of reissues.