August 25, 2006

Ricky Martin unplugs, debuts new tracks

By Leila Cobo

MIAMI (Billboard) - Ricky Martin is known for his romantic
ballads and uptempo, tropical dance fare, and during the recent
taping of his first "MTV Unplugged" set in Miami, he offered

After the taping, an excited Martin announced he would go
on tour in February, beginning in Puerto Rico, but had no
further details.

What stood out during the 12-song August 17 session were
three freshly penned tracks that fit Martin's new, more
laid-back persona to a T.

The best received of the trio was "Tu Recuerdo," an
intimate acoustic ballad with flamenco tinges performed with
"Unplugged" arranger Tommy Torres on guitar and singer Mari of
Spanish group Chambao. It was penned by Torres.

Christian Zalles and Juan Carlos Perez Soto wrote the
melancholic "Con Tu Nombre," and the grand finale was the
uptempo "Pegate," based on the traditional bomba rhythm of
Puerto Rico and boosted by rich percussion and a big horn
section. Martin penned the latter with Roy Tavare.

The unpredictable repertoire, a mix of old and new
"personal favorites" of Martin's, included a version of "Maria"
that relied not on electronics but on horn and percussion
sections, as well as a flamenco guitarist and an accordionist
imported from Colombia. Absent from the set list were mega-hits
"Livin' la Vida Loca" and "The Cup of Life."

The taping came 10 months after the release of Martin's
"Life," a highly produced album in stark contrast to the
pared-down "Unplugged." "Life" has sold 266,000 copies,
according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The "Unplugged" album is slated for release in November on
Sony BMG, coinciding with Martin's being honored as person of
the year by the Latin Recording Academy.

Martin's "MTV Unplugged" will be the first to premiere not
only on MTV Latin America, but also on the newly minted MTV
Tr3s, MTV's U.S. Latin channel.

The show also will air on MTV Puerto Rico and will be made
available to more than 100 MTV channels worldwide. Sources say
MTV execs were hinting at a showing on mainstream U.S. MTV