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Past hits get Latin update

The woman who brought back the conga joins the disco revival, as Gloria Estefan's new album dips back to the age of the Hustle in a collection of pop oldies that includes Turn the Beat Around and Everlasting Love. But to her credit (and to the credit of her producer/husband, Emilio) the remakes avoid the polyester excess of the originals with an approach that's more organic and less slick.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me is something of a companion piece to Mi Tierra, her set of Latin classics, as Estefan sings the songs she grew up with in the'60s and'70s. And although the dozen songs are all American pop (or, in the case of Gerry & the Pacemakers' Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying, British), the Estefans bring a definite Hispanic flair to the proceedings, adding Emilio's cafe accordion to the Rascals' How Can I Be Sure, flavoring Don't Let the Sun with Spanish guitars and bringing in the great Cuban bassist Israel Cachao Lopez to play on the Classics IV hit Traces.

But Estefan doesn't simply retool those But Estefan doesn't simply retool those hits for the Latin market. She transforms Neil Sedaka's sugary pop tune Breaking Up Is Hard to Do into a silky ballad that Natalie Cole would be proud to call her own and rocks out on Carole King's It's Too Late.

Not everything works so well. Estefan does a pat remake of Blood, Sweat & Tears's hit You've Made Me So Very Happy that merely adds a Spanish accent to the trumpets. But at a time when everyone seems to be making albums of "cover" versions, from Black Sabbath tributes to Shawn Colvin's Cover Girl, on Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Estefan has managed to look into the past and find herself.

AUDIO REVIEW

Gloria Estefan: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (Epic)

Scripps-Howard News Service

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