By: Robyn Barnette


If there's one thing Ricky Martin knows, it's how to establish himself as a leader in today's new school of Latin music. His years as a member of the mega-popular mid-80s quintet Menudo attest to that status. When Ricky left Menudo, his transition in going from teen heartthrob to superstar vocalist would see its share of fame and fortune: Two albums, "Ricky Martin" in 1991 and "Me Amaras" in 1993, that catapulted him into stardom; a starring role in the ABC daytime soap opera "General Hospital" where he played the character Miguel (you had to see the episode where he sang in tribute to his friend Stone); several appearences on such specials including "Siempre en Domingo" and "Super Sabado Sensacional"; and a consistency to present himself as a serious entity in Latin music's new school. All that said, here comes super-phat joint #3. "A Medio Vivir" is Ricky's return to the top of his game without deviating from his identity as an entertainer. This time, Ricky comes out a firing squad, spreading bullets of polished vocals layered over flavorful pop/dance/rock melodies, taking aim at the listener's ears and leaving them to realize that he is for real.

The most prominent feature throughout this album is Ricky's voice, and it's apparent that he's learned how to refine and spice it to the musical ambience. "Maria," a song about a girl he fancies, meets that designation with its Flamenco-phat hip-hop salsa groove and engaging "Un dos tres" chorus (the remix isn't so bad, either). Ricky gives a more gracious effort to his vocals on the passion-filled "Te Extraño, Te Olvido, Te Amo." Another catchy track is "Bombom De Azucar." In it, the music starts out with Ricky coinciding his laid-back vocals with some electric acoustic guitar licks. Toward the end of the track, Ricky strengthens his vocals, roughing them against some headbangin' hard rock. "Volveras" is a heart-rending ballad where Ricky expresses pain and longing, mirroring his voice to the song's emotion and bringing out this aspect of Latin music that has made it so famous. "Corazon" is another phat track, where Ricky displays his vocal talent amongst a techno-filled groove which gives rise to the phrase "Pump that body, work that body."

Ricky delivers a solid vocal performance on "A Medio Vivir," manifesting a grown-up attitude since his days with Menudo. The material throughout this joint maintains a perfect balance between his vocals and the mix of techno grooves, lush ballads and hard rock. It shows how Ricky can handle his vocals against the mix of these musical styles. From a production standpoint, "A Medio Vivir" comes more tighter than the pants Jennifer's wearing on the cover of "Dulzura." "A Medio Vivir" represents Ricky Martin as a leader in Latin music's new school and blossoms him to a whole new level as an entertainer. All Latin music lovers should give this one a listen.


Performer: Ricky Martin Musical Category: World/International--LATIN
Album Title: A Medio Vivir Producer(s): Ian Blake, K.C. Porter
Record Company: Sony Discos, Inc. Engineer(s): None
Distributor: N/A Studio/Live: Studio
UPC: 3726816512 Stereo/Mono: Stereo
Release Year: 1995 Guest Artists: None
Album Length: 51:44 Availability: CD/Cassette

DATE OF REVIEW: May 29, 1996