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Osvaldo Pugliese

Osvaldo Pugliese

There are those who hear the music only after it's played: they are the majority. Then there are those who hear it when it plays: they are few. Finally, there are those who hear it before it's played. Osvaldo Pugliese perceived what had previously not existed and composed Negracha
 - Rodolfo Mederos

It's not so easy to describe the sound of the Pugliese orchestra in words. His music is tango at its most passionate, in the true sense of the word: not something showy or external, but something that arises from within, demanding expression. It is not music that can be listened to in the background, but demands your full involvement - your full attention and participation as a listener. I can barely imagine what it must have been like to dance to his orchestra for a whole evening.

Pugliese's work is often considered as being defined by the trio of instrumentals La yumba (1946), Negracha (1948) and Malandraca (1949). In each of these, a simple rhythmic theme builds slowly in intensity until, just before it becomes too much to bear, it dissolves, only to build again...

Pugliese formed his own orchestra in 1939 and made his first recordings in 1943. The Maestro was one of the very few to maintain the size of his orchestra through the lean years of the 1960s, and the 1939 lineup remained almost unchanged until 1968 when six of his best players, in search of work, departed to form the Sexteto Tango. This remarkable record is a testament to the great affection and respect that the musicians held for their maestro.

The orchestra returned to form in the 1970s and continued playing right through the 1980s, making its final recordings in 1989.

The great popularity of the Pugliese orchestra means there are many re-issues of his work on cd and here we cover only the most significant - there are more not described here. Reliquias have made themselves the label of choice for those wanting to collect his work.

Most people begin by being drawn in by the recordings of the late 1950s, when the orchestra was at its peak. The 70s recordings are also popular but mostly for their sound fidelity - for the dancer these performances don't quite have the same motive power as the 1950s work. I especially love the 1940s oeuvre, but there is a caveat: the quality of the surviving 78s from the 1940s just isn't as good as those of other orchestras. Maybe the music was more demanding on the recording equipment - or maybe everyone just played the records too much.

What sort of buyer are you?

I'm not sure about Pugliese - give me an easy one to start with

Magical Pugliese with the voice of Roberto Chanel, Pugliese's greatest singer and a true cantor de orquesta in the style of Francisco Fiorentino. His voice is that of a man of the street, but with class, and he has great phrasing. Tracks such as Yo te bendigo, Corrientes y esmeralda and La abandoné y no sabía give me goose bumps. The shape of the music is not so different from other vocal tango of the mid 1940s, making this Pugliese at his most accessible - I can't understand why his music isn't more played.


  1. Yo te bendigo
  2. Fuimos
  3. Rondando tu esquina
  4. La abandoné y no sabía
  5. Corrientes y esmeralda
  6. Puenticito de mi río vals
  7. Farol
  8. Muchachos comienza la ronda
  9. Nada más que un corazón
  10. Galleguita
  11. Sin lágrimas
  12. Tu casa ya no esta vals
  13. Tiempo
  14. Ojos maulas
  15. Amigas
  16. Consejo de oro
  17. Que bien te queda
  18. El tango es una historia
  19. Escúchame Manón
  20. Cabecitas blancas

I just one one album covering his entire oeuvre

If you want only one cd of Pugliese then Ausencia, the best selling Pugliese cd in the world today, is the one to get. You can read my eulogy to this on our essentials page.


  1. Farol
  2. Mala junta
  3. Recuerdo
  4. Rondando tu esquina
  5. Fuimos
  6. La yumba
  7. Puente Alsina
  8. Pasional
  9. Chiqué
  10. San José De Flores
  11. Desvelo
  12. Emancipación
  13. Antiguo reloj de cobre
  14. Cascabelito
  15. Remembranzas
  16. Nochero soy
  17. La mariposa
  18. La beba
  19. Arrabal
  20. Desde el alma vals


  • Roberto Chanel (1,4,5)
  • Jorge Vidal (7)
  • Alberto Morán (8,10,11)
  • Miguel Montero (13)
  • Jorge Maciel (14,15)

On the other hand, if you really must have the 1952 version of La Yumba rather than the 1946 one, or want the orchestra's wonderful arrangement of the Piazzolla composition Zum then get the earlier compilation Colección (from 1991). This is not such good value but still a popular disc.

Later you can start with the instrumentals and my recommendation would be Volume 3 of the series Instrumentales Inolvidables (Unforgettable Instrumentals) on Reliquias. It's a great album and you can add to it later on as well.

That's only one cd - isn't there more?

Yes - try the 2005 4 cd box set Edicion Aniversario. It's fantastic value for money, even for those of you who already have a lot of Pugliese, and would make a great present for a tango friend. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Maestro's birth in 1905, the 100 tracks span his entire career in chronological order - the first three discs covering the dancing material, and the final CD presenting some fine recordings from the end of his career that haven't been reprinted previously.

Note the gap in the years covered by cd3, when Pugliese was signed not to EMI-Odeón but to another label.

Track list

CD 1 (1943-1950)
  1. Farol
  2. El rodeo
  3. Mala junta
  4. Milonga de mi tierra
  5. Recuerdo
  6. El tango es una historia
  7. Adiós Bardi
  8. Amurado
  9. Yuyo verde
  10. Derecho viejo
  11. Flor de tango
  12. Las marionetas
  13. Tiempo
  14. La yumba
  15. Una vez
  16. N.N.
  17. Escuchame Manón
  18. Patético
  19. Negracha
  20. Malandraca
  21. Pinta brava
  22. Puente Alsina
  23. Bien compadre
  24. Descorazonado
  25. Testamento de arrabal
  26. Catuzo
  27. De floreo
CD 2 (1950-1956)
  1. Pastoral
  2. Porque canto el tango
  3. Don Aniceto
  4. El tobiano
  5. Barro
  6. Don Atilio
  7. El mate amargo
  8. Bien milonga
  9. Pasional
  10. El refrán
  11. Para dos
  12. Entrador
  13. Si sos brujo
  14. Por pecadora
  15. El embrollo
  16. Caminito soleado
  17. Porque no te tengo más
  18. Mi lamento
  19. No quiero perderte
  20. A la luz del candil
  21. Canzoneta
  22. Por una muñeca
  23. A mis compañeros
  24. No juegues a la guerra
CD 3 (1956-1959; 1972-1979)
  1. A Roberto Pepe
  2. Nochero soy
  3. Marrón y azúl
  4. Pata ancha
  5. La conciencia
  6. Yunta de oro
  7. Pa´la muchacha
  8. Corazoneando
  9. Gente amiga
  10. Julie
  11. Quien
  12. La bordona
  13. Que pinturita
  14. Quejumbroso
  15. Si nace chancleta
  16. Y no le erré
  17. La cumparsita
  18. La Beba
  19. No me pregunten porque
  20. Ni triste ni solo
  21. La vaquita
  22. Para Eduardo Arolas
  23. Mentira
CD 4 (1978-1986)
  1. El japanga
  2. Madrugados bien temprano
  3. A un artista del pueblo
  4. Tengo calle
  5. Recién
  6. Quinto año
  7. Madrugada porteña
  8. Juan Pueblo
  9. Contame una historia
  10. La piel de Buenos Aires
  11. Mi viejo es amigo mío
  12. Y no puedo olvidarte
  13. Crecimos juntos
  14. Cordón
  15. Pa´los médicos
  16. Estás en mi ciudad
  17. Chacabuqueando
  18. Preguntas para mi viejo
  19. Recuerdo
  20. Andres Selpa
  21. El encopao
  22. Protocoleando
  23. Ensayando
  24. Igual que una sombra
  25. Tokio luminoso
  26. Compañera

Instrumentales Inolvidables vol.2

DBN 499985

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A strong instrumental album running in reverse chrnological order, so start at the end and work backwards. The album concentrates on the years 1947-1956, with La beba being recorded in 1972 - a pity for today's dancer, who would far prefer to know how it sounded when Pugliese formed his orchestra back in 1939.

Out-of-print but we have it in stock.

normal UK selling price: n/a (unavailable in the UK)
our price: £10


  1. La beba
  2. Buen amigo
  3. Nochero soy
  4. Suipacha
  5. A mis compañeros
  6. Entrador
  7. Para dos
  8. Olivero
  9. Don Atilio
  10. El tobiano
  11. Don Aniceto
  12. De floreo
  13. Catuzo
  14. Bien compadre
  15. Malandraca
  16. Chuzas
  17. Negracha
  18. Boedo
  19. Patético
  20. N...N...

A really enjoyable mixed album, split roughly in half between Morán and Chanel, with one of their duos and four instrumentals, and including two great milongas. In fact, Tortazos must be one of the top ten milongas, ever.

The instrumentals include the joyful La tupungatina and one of my own favourites, Carrasco's Mi lamento, an under-rated masterpiece.

Just essential


  1. De vuelta al bulín
  2. Hacelo por la vieja
  3. El mate amargo
  4. Si sos brujo
  5. El cielo en las manos
  6. Por pecadora
  7. La mentirosa
  8. Y mientes todavía
  9. La tupungatina
  10. Mirando la lluvia
  11. Dandy
  12. Tortazos milonga
  13. El sueño del pibe
  14. Mi lamento
  15. La mascota del barrio
  16. El día de tu ausencia
  17. Silbar de boyero
  18. Mi fuelle rezonga
  19. Bolero
  20. Andá que te cure Lola milonga


Osvaldo Pugliese - Sus éxitos con Alberto Morán

DBN 495373

Drama! Alberto Morán's dramatic delivery made him a pop idol - the girls flocked to the stage whenever he sang, leaving the men without partners. These are demanding performances that aren't often appreciated by beginner dancers, but sooner or later, one comes round to the them. Ignore the melodrama of Pasional and San José de Flores, and turn instead to the tender delivery of El abrojito and Príncipe, and the power of Demasiado tarde

These are the best Morán transfers anywhere, so get them whilst you still can - there are no digital versions of these albums


  1. El abrojito
  2. Yuyo verde
  3. Príncipe
  4. No me escribas
  5. Sin palabras
  6. Maleza
  7. Ilusión marina vals
  8. Mentira
  9. Demasiado tarde
  10. Una vez
  11. Pasional
  12. Descorazonado
  13. Barro
  14. Cadenas
  15. Frente a una copa
  16. San José de Flores
  17. Y volvemos a querernos
  18. Cobardía
  19. Cualquier cosa
  20. Desvelo

What about the missing years?


Polygram 539332

Pugliese was signed to Polygram during the 1960s - lean years for tango, but he did produce some cracking instrumentals in this period, most notably A Evaristo Carriego. These are collected together on the album Nostálgico. Formerly this was a series of albums. All were deleted, and in 2008 the Pugliese album only was reprinted. If you want more of this period, check out the series Antologia below - but I warn you, the vocals are dire!


  1. El entrerriano
  2. El amanecer
  3. El Marne
  4. Taconeando
  5. El pensamiento
  6. La payanca
  7. Lorenzo
  8. Inspiración
  9. Qué noche
  10. Marejada
  11. Cabrera
  12. Lágrimas
  13. Canaro en París
  14. Charamusca
  15. Didí
  16. Orlando Goñi
  17. Don Agustín Bardi
  18. Nostálgico
  19. A Evaristo Carriego
  20. Nonino

I want all the good stuff

The best thing to do is collect the Pugliese cds on Reliquias. First the instrumental albums:

Instrumentales Inolvidables volumes 2 and 3 are fantastic albums. Each presents twenty tracks from EMI's catalogue from the 1950s and 1940s, presented in reverse chronological order. Volume 3 is probably the one to get first but there's very little in it.

Volume 1 contains the first twenty instrumentals Pugliese recorded, except La cachila, which was included on A los amigos, and Vayan saliendo which was omitted so that La yumba could be included as the 20th track. (Never mind, it's included on volume 3). It's a unique collection.

There is a small snag with this disc, though: there are no mint condition 78s of Pugliese's 40s recordings anywhere in existence, and the noise has been filtered off which makes the music a little less involving. Comparing the transfer of La Yumba to that on Ausencia and the difference is clear.

You can hear unfiltered versions - complete with some distortion - on El Bandoneón's disc of Pugliese's 40s output, Recuerdo (EBCD-71). Once you stop being distracted by the artifacts, the music is more compelling, particularly on little played classics such as Derecho Viejo and Flor de Tango. (Don't touch the companion volume EBCD-96, the fidelity is appalling).

Probably the best single album of Pugliese's 40s output is the one on Harlequin. There's some overlap with Edición Aniversario, but it's still worth getting.

We can sell you all four of the Reliquias albums at the special price of £30 (+ p&p), saving £6.

Reliquias also has six albums with his vocalists from the '40s and '50s:

Chanel was Pugliese's greatest singer and both the album dedicated to him alone and the one he shares with Morán, which also includes a few instrumentals, are wonderful. I can't understand why his music isn't more played. Morán has more fireworks and was very popular with the ladies, but skip the second volume with him unless you are very keen. As for the 50s output, Vidal is the best singer of the period. He was too independent to stay with the orchestra and cut only 10 sides with Pugliese before returning to solo work. Cobos and Montero cannot match him. The sides of Vidal alone are available on El Bandonéon (EBCD-5). This is a 12-track LP transfer so not such good value, but it is a more satisfying album in that it has only the very best tracks.

Al Colón! Al Colón!

Then there is the landmark concert in the Teatro Colón on 26/12/1985, shortly after the maestro's 80th birthday. Originally issued on two lps, and first re-issued on two CDs, this is a wonderful cd.

The sound fanatic will find much of which to disapprove in these recordings. The cavernous space of the Colón does not make for the best presentation of the orchestra. God forbid, you can even hear the sound of the bandoneón's keys being pressed during the solo in Desde El Alma. Even worse, the cd appears to be an lp transfer, rather than being remastered from the original tape - there is a clear wobble on the opening note of A Evaristo Carriego, which would have been the first track on side two of the first lp.

All of this is, of course, just so much straw compared to the electric atmosphere of this historic night. That the maestro - frequently denied the opportunity to work by successive military regimes - was able to give this concert at all, at a time when tango had been out of the public ear for many decades, is news enough; that it should have taken place in the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires's hallowed opera house - perhaps the greatest in the southern hemisphere - is all the more remarkable. With characteristic humilty, Pugliese describes himself and his orchestra as just a screw in a machine that sometimes is useful, and other times isn't, whilst bringing the house down with every number. The sense of a city rediscovering itself is palpable.

I'm a collector - I must have everything

Polygram used to have a 6 CD anthology of all Pugliese's 60s output, but it's deleted now and we cannot get them. You will have to make do with do with the Nostalgico above.

Antologia vol.1 Antologia vol.2 Antologia vol.3 Antologia vol.4 Antologia vol.5 Antologia vol.6

Where next...

© Michael Lavocah / 2000-2018