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Marc Anthony 

Saturday, March 18; Khorassan Ballroom

OK, people, can we dispense with the term "Latin explosion" already? The power of the music and its popularity can't be denied, but at best, the phrase seems to equate the pop phenomenon with some sort of hot-blooded banana-republic revolution. It's stereotypical, and as such, demeaning. At worst, "Latin explosion" suggests what happens about four hours after you eat at Taco Bell.

Besides, artists such as Marc Anthony deserve better. Though he has been lumped with overnight pop sensations Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin, Anthony has been recording solo albums longer and is considered a thoughtful and serious practitioner of salsa music, not just another south-of-the-border pretty boy with crossover dreams.

Irony abounds in Anthony's career, however. He started out as a backup singer for Menudo, the very group that rocketed Martin to stardom. And the project that brought Anthony the most attention in the Anglo world was also a colossal flop: He starred in Paul Simon's critically drubbed Broadway musical, The Capeman. Unlike Simon, though, he escaped the show without ignominy, parlaying his new fame into an English-language album, the self-titled disc that's now on the charts thanks to the insistent hit single "I Need to Know."

Certainly Marc Anthony is directed at the pop market, but it's more subtle than efforts by Martin and Lopez. Now that he's gotten our attention, though, Anthony would do well to continue to pay attention to the music that made him famous. Salsa, after all, is more than just the stuff you put on your gorditas.

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