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Fortunately, a second document has emerged: Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall (a two-disc CD, in stores today). Recorded in 1998, a year after the first album's release, it languished for years in the vault - in part, says Cooder, because of "sonic problems - as is very often the case with live recording." Although parts of the concert were included in the Wenders film, it was just "bits and pieces," he says. "There's enough to get you to where you realized what a cathartic or dynamic event it was, but to hear song after song after song is another story."stream 2 tracks here
Getting the album to the point where it was possible to hear song after song was largely the work of Martin Pradler, an engineer Cooder has been working with in recent years. "He doctored on it, did a nice face-lift, and man - he really got it to walk and talk here," says Cooder.
"It's interesting to look back 10 years later," he adds. "The time interval didn't diminish it, it enhanced it. This was better than I recalled, and particularly in the case of Ruben Gonzalez. His piano playing was particularly strong right then, and I had sort of gotten used to hearing him in later years, when he had gotten weak and was losing strength. But man! You hear him here, being so free with all these things, especially the danzon piece [Almendra], how he just sort of tears through it. It's amazing."