Following the successes of his previous albums, mostly reissues of proven hits in Mexico, Pérez Prado
was entitled to do his own progressive thing at least for one album. Havana, 3 A.M
. sneaked past the dance-music censors at RCA and kicked down the doors for acceptance of authentic Latin music in the U.S. Immediately into the first track, "La Comparsa," we hear the full flowering of the Prado
sound: searing, blaring trumpet over heavy rhythm in very spare arrangements. "The Freeway Mambo" is definitive, one of Prado
's unsung best. That the music is also suitable for dancing seems irrelevant. This is the sound of the dancer on the jacket, of pre-Castro Cuba at night, of Spanish-influenced cities and African-influenced hill country. It is louder than bullfight music (even the ballads), absolutely direct and brash, yet so deftly and compellingly arranged that it never tires. A timeless classic, Havana, 3 A.M
. is worth obtaining in both its original form and a simulated-stereo reissue.