Band, Juaneco y su combo
Peruvian band “Juaneco Y Su Combo.”

Juaneco Y Su Combo is one of the most revered artists in Latin music. The name may not be immediately familiar but their songs definitely are. Perhaps you’ve found yourself chanting along to the chorus of “Ya Se Ha Muerto Mi Abuelo,” wooed a lover to “Linda Nena,” or danced the night away to “El Llanto De Ayaymama” or “Vacilando Con Ayahuasca.”

What very few people realize about these classic tracks is that they were remastered, re-recorded and, in some cases, rewritten various times.

The original recordings were eventually forgotten by all but the most fanatical followers. These originals were doomed to obscurity were it not for the efforts of the music lovers at The Vital Record (TVR) music label who have compiled a number of these original tracks, as well as some long-forgotten songs by Juaneco Y Su Combo, on the compilation album The Birth Of Jungle Cumbia.

First recordings of Juaneco Y Su Combo

The album collects the first recordings ever by Juaneco Y Su Combo, which they laid down at Lima-based label IMSA between 1970 and 1972. The eighteen songs on the record were pulled from the band’s first full-length album plus a handful of singles from their original format.

“This album was never really heard by most Peruvians,” explains David Aglow of TVR. “This is, more than anything, a lost album.”

These lost recordings include the original versions of songs that would, years later, become synonymous with the band. There’s the universally-recognizable organ of “Caballito Nocturno.” The aforementioned “El Llanto De Ayaymama” makes an appearance with a much rougher guitar sound compared to the razor-sharp sounds of later versions.

Then there are songs such as “El Forastero,” which have gone practically unlistened to for decades and “Agüita De Manantay,” which may have been a precursor to “Agüita De Sachachorro.”

The band traces its humble origins to the jungle region of Pucallpa, Peru on the banks of the Ucayali river where, in the early 1960s, Juan Wong Paredes created Juaneco Y Su Conjunto. The band performed traditional tunes at various local functions until 1965 when Paredes’ son, Juan Wong Popolizio, took over as band leader.

Juaneco Jr. changed the band’s sound by adding more electric guitars and Farsifa organs. He also added one very unique component: lead guitarist Noé Fachín Mori. Mori soon became a leading force in the group, composing many of their top hits and adding melodic hooks that separated Juaneco Y Su Combo from other groups in what would, years later, be known as jungle cumbia.

The Birth Of Jungle Cumbia will be available on Tuesday Dec. 10th on The Vital Record.

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