Robi Draco Rosa

Mad Love (Sony)

Robi Draco Rosa is best known among Anglos as the co-writer of Ricky Martin's breakthrough hit, "Livin' la Vida Loca." But even though he's spent most of his adult life trying to bury the Menudo curse, we Latinos know the truth: He once belonged to the most insufferable "band" in the history of twentieth-century music.

Robi's first two Spanish solo albums were surprisingly good, but didn't make him a superstar. Frío (Cold, 1994) was warm, mixing potential hits with the poetry of a teen idol who actually has something to say. Vagabundo (1996) was dark and cold, with heavy, Baudelaire-like lyrics. The executives at Sony Latin felt it was plain unlistenable, and it was only due to Robi's tenacity that the record was released. Like Frío, Vagabundo didn't sell much either, but it's a cult classic that gave him further credibility as a serious musician.

Mad Love, his first album in six years (it's mostly sung in English, with only two top-notch songs in Spanish), is where Robi finally hits his stride. Two years in the making, it's a multilayered, epic, powerful expression of love for his wife Angela. Despite the unexplainable fact that his voice now sounds like Sting's, it is his first truly great album. It is a clear message that Robi Draco Rosa is not planning to disappear anytime soon.

 
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