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Cocoband

One of the premier merengue acts of the early to mid-'90s, Pochy y Su Cocoband were a group from the Dominican Republic led by Alfonso "Pochi" Vásquez. The group recorded roughly a dozen albums over a ten-year period for the renowned Kubaney label and billed themselves under a variety of names -- originally just Cocoband, then Pochi y Su Cocoband or Pochy y Su Cocoband, also Los Cocotuces. Founded in 1988 by Vásquez, the original Cocoband were notably also comprised of Kinito Méndez and Bobby Rafael. Along with Vásquez, Méndez -- who would split from the Cocoband during the early '90s and find success elsewhere with Rikarena and Rokabanda, plus as a solo artist -- wrote many of the group's songs. The Cocoband made their full-length album debut on Kubaney with Cocoband (1989), followed by numerous other albums including La Faldita (1990), Llegaron los Cocotuces (1991), Pero con Coco! (1991), El Arrollador (1992), Canciones Cocomanticas (1993), La Coco Es la Coco (1994), El Hombre Llegó Parao (1995), Temible (1995), and El Ombliguito (1996). In addition, Kubaney compiled a few greatest-hits collections: Grandes Exitos de la Cocoband, Vol. 1 (1994), Grandes Exitos de la Cocoband, Vol. 2 (1994), and the double-disc Coco Mixes (1998).

By the time of the latter collection -- a compilation of extended merenhouse remixes reflecting the changing times -- Vásquez had left Kubaney and associated himself with a new label, Fonovisa Records. Changing his billing from Pochy y Su Cocoband to Pochy Familia y Su Cocoband, he released a few albums that found him moving away from purely merengue and adopting other tropical styles such as salsa and bachata: Ponle Sazon (1998), Tu Sabes...No Te Hagas (1999), and Con Más Sabor a Coco (2001). This trio of Fonovisa releases marked a downturn in popularity for Vásquez, and after a one-off independent release, Pochy Familia y Su Cocoband (2004), he essentially entered a state of retirement. A few years later, the label Emusica purchased the Kubaney back catalog and reissued some of the best Pochy y Su Cocoband recordings of the early '90s: there were two compilations in 2007 -- the single-disc Coco de Oro and the double-disc A Man and His Music...¡Pero con Coco! -- plus a few select albums. Then in 2008 Vásquez reunited with original Cocoband members Kinito Méndez and Bobby Rafael for a 20th anniversary celebration performance at the United Palace in New York City. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi
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