Best Salsa Music of All Time

Salsa from Puerto Rico, New York, and Colombia

Some of the greatest salsa songs produced in history are memorable works from top artists in this genre. Whether you like salsa from Puerto Rico, New York or Colombia, this top 10 compilation touches a broad spectrum of sounds from music pioneers like Joe Cuba and contemporary artists like Marc Anthony.

Although compilation albums may be your best shot to discover the music of these artists, check out the seminal albums that made the cut for the top 10 salsa albums of all time.

Regarded by many as the most important salsa album ever recorded by Celia Cruz, "Celia & Johnny" paired up the "Queen of Salsa" with Johnny Pacheco, the founder of the legendary Fania All Stars. With songs like "Quimbara," "Toro Mata," and "Lo Tuyo Es Mental," this is one of the most popular salsa albums ever recorded in history.

This 1962 album cemented Joe Cuba as one of the most influential Latin music artists of his time. A fantastic work from beginning to end, "Steppin' Out" features the amazing vocals of Cheo Feliciano, one of the best soneros in the history of salsa. Some of the most legendary hits from this album include titles like "A Las Seis," "Oriente," "Wabble-Cha," and "Cachondea."

This album has been one of Grupo Niche's most acclaimed productions. Besides providing the distinctive vibes of Colombian salsa, "Cielo De Tambores" offers a hybrid style that moves between the sounds of salsa dura (hard salsa) and romantic salsa. With hits like "Una Aventura," "Sin Sentimiento," and "Cali Aji," this album features some of the best salsa music ever written by Jairo Varela, the founder and prolific director of the Colombian band.

With his unique singing style, Ismael Rivera is one of the greatest innovators of salsa music. His prolific repertoire has influenced different generations of artists. "Soy Feliz" offers a collection of some of Ismael Rivera's most memorable hits including tracks such as "Soy Feliz," "Las Tumbas," "No Soy Para Ti," and "Borinqueneando." This is a great album to add to your salsa collection.

For more than half a century, La Sonora Ponceña has been defining the sounds of Puerto Rican salsa. La Ponceña's elegant repertoire has been heavily influenced by Papo Lucca, the band's legendary pianist and director. "Determination" offers a unique jazzy sound that this famous band is known for incorporating into its music. Top tracks from this album include "Yambeque," "La Soledad," and "Date Cuenta."

"Our Latin Thing" is the soundtrack of the documentary movie of the same name, a 1972 production featuring the music of the Fania All Stars. This movie and its music exemplifies the development of salsa during the 1970s in New York City. The soundtrack features the famous songs that the Fania All Stars played at the legendary Cheetah Club including tracks like "Quitate Tu" and "Anacaona."

04
of 10

"Revento," Hector Lavoe

Photo Courtesy Fania
Hector Lavoe - 'Revento'. Photo Courtesy Fania

A salsa top 10 list would be incomplete without an album by Hector Lavoe, one of the most iconic Latin music legends in history. Regarded by many as salsa's most influential singer and performer, Hector Lavoe recorded one of the most exciting repertoires of salsa dura. "Revento" includes some of Lavoe's most popular songs including titles like "De Que Tamaño," "La Fama," and "Dejala Que Siga."

For the past two decades, Marc Anthony has established himself as one of the best-selling artists in Latin music. Most of his overall success is the result of his ability to move easily between salsa and Latin pop. His 1997 album "Contra La Corriente" features some of the best salsa songs of his repertoire including tracks like "Y Hubo Alguien," "Contra La Corriente," "Si Te Vas," and "No Sabes Como Duele." If you are into romantic salsa, this album is a must-have.

This album bears El Gran Combo's famous nickname of "La Universidad de la Salsa (The University of Salsa)." With its more than 60 years in the playing field, El Gran Combo is deserving of the nickname. This album features hits like "Mujer Celosa," "Y No Hago Mas Na,'" and "Patria."

"Siembra" is widely considered one of the very best salsa albums of all time. This collaboration between legendary trombonist Willie Colon and singer Ruben Blades makes this an essential album in Latin music. Top tracks include tunes like "Plastico," "Buscando Guayaba," "Dime" and the worldwide hit "Pedro Navaja."