For well over 30 years, Inti-Illimani (the name translates as "Sun God") has held a beacon for Chilean music, both the traditional folk styles and the more contemporary nueva cancion. Back in 1967 a group of students at Santiago's Technical University formed a band to perform folk music. Taking their name from the Aymaran Indian language of the Andes, they began playing traditional music - something few did back then - and quickly earned a reputation around the capital, becoming more and more adept on their instruments. By the '70s they'd grown into a political beast, taking on the nueva cancion (literally "new song") of many young groups, and being quite outspoken lyrically - enough to be forced into exile in 1973, where they'd stay for 15 years. However, they refused to be cowed by the Chilean dictatorship. Basing themselves in Rome, Italy, they continued to record, and toured more heavily then ever before, earning a powerful reputation around the globe, and becoming very unofficial ambassadors of Chilean music, as well as opponents to the ruling regime. In addition to performing with a number of famous, political figures like Pete Seeger and Mikis Theodorakis, they were included on the famous 1988 Amnesty International Tour, along with Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Bruce Springsteen.
This was not the first album to be released by the Chilean folk group Inti-Illimani. But it was the first of the group's albums to emerge from a new life as exiles in Rome; so, literally, this spirited music of revolution and rebellion was recorded within a short stroll from the type of hearty lunchtime pasta that is more likely to inspire a siesta. The decisive summarization of thoughts that sometimes occurs as a preamble to dreamland is a nice way to describe the choice of both repertoire and final program sequence. "Viva Chile!" lays bare the musical roots of this ensemble, in large part a style of folk music from the Andes that has unfortunately become a trifle stereotyped due to overexposure. In the case of Inti-Illimani, the growth from this original starting point has been lush, extending into a challenging form of expression known as nuevo cancion, or new song. Rich emotions and musical surprises bloom almost constantly from these pieces. In combination with politics, as in "Venceremos" or "Cueca de la C.U.T.," it becomes a garden that any lover of protest songs will want to sit in and meditate. Sniffing along while the military industrial complex is overthrown is hardly the only sweet bouquet provided, however. From the very start of the album, intricate and terrifically mixed percussion breaks provide some of the finest moments. "Cueca de la C.U.T." is simply amazing, sounding like small drunken men have invaded the speaker box with wooden mallets. Instrumental pieces involving various combinations of stringed instruments such as guitar, tiple, and charango are also part of the program, a style that the group seems to have downplayed in later releases. "Ramis," "Tatati," and "Subida" are short and simple treats; "Longuita" utilizes a picking style that sounds like country & western, though it is uncertain what country. "Venceremos" is the big vocal hit, an anthem among anthems, and as is typical in the effective sequencing, it is sandwiched between two of the instrumentals.
This album was released in different countries on different labels, in Germany on the Pläne label as part of the "Serie Sieg".
- 01. Fiesta de san Benito - 3:41
- 02. Longuita - 2:00
- 03. Cancion del poder popular - 3:04
- 04. Alturas - 3:02
- 05. La segunda independencia - 2:37
- 06. Cueca de la C.U.T. - 1:46
- 07. Tatati - 3:32
- 08. Venceremos - 2:29
- 09. Ramis - 2:22
- 10. 'Rin' del angelito - 3:23
- 11. Subida - 2:03
- 12. Simon Bolivar - 2:46
(256 kbps, cover art included, vinyl rip)