RIP Ray Reyes (Ex-Menudo)

Today, my heart aches for the loss of a man that has been a part of my life since 1983. Ray Reyes passed away April 30, 2021 and the fans of the group, Menudo share the pain. As of this morning, the cause of death is still unknown.

Ray was my childhood crush before I knew I figured out that I liked girls. I remember going to the hotel and standing outside with Ray, along with Johnny, Ricky, Roy, and Charlie on their balcony. We stood out in the California heat and screamed up at them and through little stuffed animals at them. Yes, Ray caught my teddy bear.

Over the years, I saw Ray perform many times with the group between 1983-1985. He might have only been in the group for a short time, but none the less, he was one of the strongest supporters of the group. He helped reunite six of the members to form El Reencuentro: The Menudo Reunion. Even after that, he remained a strong presence for the group with the fans.

I finally had the opportunity to meet him in Houston, when the Menudo reunion came to town. So humble, he was Menudo’s loveable Teddy Bear.

Ray will always be a part of my life and he will never be forgotten.

Menudo’s Subete A Mi Moto (Episodes 3-6)

The bio-series on the Puerto Rican pop group, “Menudo” has been a serious eye-opener. Subete A Mi Moto is the manager/owner’s testament of group’s rise and fall. I already reviewed episodes 1-3 in a previous blog post, and today I am here to bitch about the next three episodes.

In episodes 1-3, we watched the group go from the last 70s to 1981. In episodes four and five, we spend a lot of time in the year 1982. A lot seemed to happen but at the same time that is when the group’s biggest impact was made. 1982 really did define the group internationally. They had a huge tour in South America that opened a lot of doors for the group.

One of the biggest complaints over this series so far is the producers lack of details. You have series such as the Luis Miguel series, even the Alejandra Guzman series, Gloria Trevi movie… Each of them had the care it took to get outfits correct, hairstyles, and simple things like dates. Fans are screaming over the inaccuracies of this Menudo series. It is almost like they didn’t care who they cast or if they the details correct. Based on the dates of casting, filming, and editing, there should have been enough time to get it correct.

From what we we see in the previous episodes is that Edgardo is making a lot of money and the guys are not seeing any of it. During this time, Edgardo purchased an airplane and a mansion in Orlando. That house could have been purchased in 1981 but I really don’t remember those early years being in the house. Fans really didn’t get to see the house in any magazine or tv show until 1983 during the promotion of the album A Todo Rock.¬† But we do remember the plane. There are photos of Rene on the airplane, so I will give them that.

During the episode where Rene accidently pushes the girl off the stage and Rene goes in the back to the dressing room. On the mirror in front of him, there is a photo of the real Menudo 1984 in New York in front of Madison Square Garden. I thought that was completely odd and not necessary.

Now, let’s discuss Episode 6. I can write an entire post on what was wrong with six. Seriously. In episode 6, we cover the most extensive span of time to date. This goes from 1982-1984 in a matter of minutes. First, we start with Miguel leaving the group. In the series, this takes place before Xavier leaves and they have brought in Roy to replace Miguel (the replacement is correct, just not the timeline).

If time happened as they stated in the series, this line up for the above photo on Silver Spoons would never have happened. It would have been Charlie, Ricky, Roy, Xavier, and Johnny. Miguel played a strong part of the beginning of the English crossover. He was the first to record Gimme Rock and Motorcycle Dreamer in English and I believe that this period of time was so important to the group. We have history such as Menudo On ABC, that was wasn’t even mentioned. If this part of the group’s history didn’t happen, I don’t think that crossover would have happened with as much success.

My next biggest compliant is the recording of songs in Portuguese. They talk about going to Brazil prior to Robby coming into the group. They show the group: Ricky, Johnny, Roy, Ray, and Charlie recording the album Mania with Roy singing the lead on “Sobe Em Minha Moto.” Sorry, this NEVER happened. Johnny never recorded in Portuguese and Roy didn’t sing it. They eventually re-recorded versions of Gotta Get On Movin’/Cambiale Las Pilas (bi-lingual), Ladron De Amor, and Subete A Mi Moto with Roy’s vocals. But this did not come until after Robby entered the group.

It is possible that Edgardo talked about recording in multiple languages even before the group recorded in English because from what I can tell, his head was so big that wanted to take on the world from such early on. I don’t really believe that Edgardo was thinking past the next album. I think that telling the story now, Edgardo has inflated his foreshadowing abilities.

Next we have Robby entering the group, with Johnny leaving. This was so glossed over in the series that it seemed to not be important either. It was like a spot between commercials that Robby comes in and records “If You’re Not Here.” It has been said that Robby helped record vocals for the album before, so if this is true why not talk about it. Now when Robby auditioned for the group, they stated he was 14 years old. This is technically not true. Robby turned 14 in June of 1984. When he entered the group in either late 1983 (possible audition date) to early 1984, he would have been 13 years old. The album, Reaching Out was released in January 1984, so in order to record the album it would have been recorded in 1983 making Robby’s entrance in the group earlier than officially dated.

I honestly believe that they rushed over everything just to get to Ricky Martin. It is like Edgardo seriously wants to brag on his Ricky Martin connection but honestly, Ricky wasn’t all that in Menudo. He really didn’t sing any leads except one or two until they changed the concepts of the albums.

We are now to summer of 1984 with Ricky Martin coming into the group. Know that at this point in time with Ricky Martin first coming in, the group was still singing tired old songs, just in different languages. During a dance rehearsal, Robby voices his opinion on wanting to sing “new” and “hip” songs. I am glad they showed this. Behind the scenes Robby was pretty vocal about the quality of music. This ultimately led to his quitting the group. But here is my complaint… during this rehearsal, they are performing “Con Un Beso Y Una Flor”, a lead song for Ricky Martin. We are two years away from this song existing. That song came out in 1986 with the album, Refrescante.

There is a lot of inconsistencies in this series that makes me scream and complain in each episode. BUT… we will continue watching and complaining. Until next time.

Menudo – Subete A Mi Moto (Episodes 1-3)

So here we are… 3 episodes into the Menudo television series, SUBETE A MI MOTO, which documents Edgardo Diaz’s recount of the group’s history. Remember, this is Edgardo’s version of the group and not actually complete reality.

The series was produced by Amazon, but it has yet to be released on Amazon in the US. It is only available in Latin American countries via Amazon. Right now, the series was picked up by Estrella TV in the US and can be seen over broadcast television at the moment, which is how I am viewing the show.

Official photo of the series – Note that during his time in the group, Sergio never went by Blass.

Over the first three episodes, I have found myself yelling at the screen – probably just like Rene Farrait did when he watched it complaining about how incorrect this series is. My reasons and Rene’s reasons are completely different but when you have members of the group stating how the facts are twisted, you know there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

I still have Menudo fan friends, and some of them have stopped watching while others are still remaining silent. As a loyal Menudo fan, and probably not a die-hard as some still are, I find offense just in the lack of accuracy with looks, timelines, names, etc… Even with the official banner that they released, there is a factual error. Look above at the back of the jackets. Sergio Gonzales never took the last name as BLASS until after Menudo and they never called anyone by their last names either. Just looking at this pisses me off.

The story begins at the beginning. Edgardo is working with La Pandilla and he comes up with the idea of Menudo and keeping them young. That information could be very true. Here they are doing fun things and all of the sudden Edgardo wants to replace Nefty. I can see the members no believing that it would ever happen but it did. There are going to be moments before popularity that we can not verify unless we begin interviewing everyone.

Things I have noticed that might not be so earth shattering, but here they are so far:

  1. The group always performed with the tallest on one side and the shortest on the other. Throughout these first 3 episodes, they have ignored this fact making the group’s performances look so comical.
  2. The wigs that they are using for the boys are just horrible. You can barely tell who they are supposed to be representing.
  3. If Ricky Martin auditioned for the first time in 1980, he would have been 8-9 years old. They clearly had a boy auditioning that was a teenager. We do know that Ricky auditioned various times, but I don’t believe it was that early.
  4. In 1981 when the group went to Venezuela and got attacked by the fans, they are shown in the hotel waiting to transfer to a different hotel. Behind the boys is a television running scenes of fans. One of the fans is holding up a poster of Evolucion, which was released in 1984.
  5. Still in 1981, Ricky Melendez grew so much that he became taller than Xavier. In the top photo on this page, Ricky is clearly the shortest member and pretty much remained the shortest member during this time in the group. They have made Xavier the shortest on the show.
  6. Outfits have been a little off based on when they wore them and the albums they are promoting.
  7. If they are going in order, some of the songs they are singing, recording, and promoting tend to be a bit off too. Like singing Claridad when they have not even recorded it. There are 2 albums before that became a hit.
Ricky Melendez (with braces) depicted on the series is shown to be taller than Johnny, Xavier, and Miguel. This is inaccurate.

Since the series has been released, various members have come on the record to state how inaccurate the series is. Member such as Rene Farrait (who was on of the group’s most popular members), Ray Reyes, Roy Rossello, Jonathon Montenegro, and Angelo Garcia, have all said that the story was nothing like reality.

On the other hand, MDO members (Abel, Didier, and Alexis) have defended Edgardo, stating that they were never abused and they were aware of the long hours of work it took to be part of a popular group such as Menudo.

I don’t think we will ever really get a true story of Menudo because their are going to be over 30 stories, each one wrong or biased. For now, we continue on with the show and see where it goes from here. According to episode summaries, we will have a lot of jumping around. I think that Edgardo just can’t wait to get to Ricky Martin.

Single Review: Ray Acevedo – “La Vi En Paris”

We reviewed this song back in 2015 when Ex-Menudo member released the song and video on his Facebook back. Since then the links we had on that review, we decided to go back and review the single again. This time, it’s a little different.

Ray has since then published his music on Apple Music and the single “La Vi En Paris.” Just as I mentioned back in 2015, the music seems dark and powerful. The video he released then had a very noir feel to it and this song lends itself well to the image Ray attempted to capture. The song, “La Vi En Paris” is a soft rock ballad which showcases Raymond’s strong vocals. Its simplicity of standing in a studio singing is enhanced with shadows and lights. The song has a great beat to it and is quite enjoyable.

Originally at the same time, Ray released the English version to “La Vi En Paris” called “Addictive Love” but instead, the single featured the song, “Amame En La Noche.” I am impressed with this new track. It still has a distinctively dark underlying tone, but the chorus samples a bit of the island sounds. Together, that combination creates a very romantic sound that plays well with his vocals.

Ray Acevedo spent time in the Puerto Rican pop band, Menudo from 1985-1988. After Menudo, Ray recorded a few independent solo albums and has received praise for his acting abilities on stage in various productions in Florida.

Ricky Martin’s bloody entrance on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”

The expected release on the second season of American Crime Story began this week and featured Latin pop sensation, Ricky Martin. With season two, the story focuses on Gianni Versace and the serial killer, Andrew Cunanan, who killed Versace in cold blood along with four others during a three-month spree.

Ricky Martin plays Antonio D’Amico, Versace’s lover of fifteen years. Fans of Ricky have been waiting to see him on the small screen again after quite a while. While Ricky had a small guest role in the TV show, Glee; it has been since the mid-nineties, since he has been a regular on a television show. Ricky is a performer, so being on stage is something that he portrays comfortably. But the stage is so different from television and his overplayed emotions and facial expressions that would be perceived as normal in front of a crowd on stage comes off forced in the emotional scenes that make up the first episode.

While Ricky makes his appearance early on, it isn’t until Cunanan shot Versace do we see Ricky come out on the steps of the Versace mansion and the overacting kicks in. It continues while the police question him about his relationship with Versace. Maybe he was trying to portray “shocked” but I know that if I was in his position, I would have been at the hospital and not sitting down with police. Again, I felt that the situation was far-fetched and overplayed. Even Penelope Cruz’s portrayal of Donatella Versace seemed forced, yet I know little about her personally to know if the portrayal is off.

But fans are happy, and so am I. It is great to see Ricky continuing to get recognition and a role in such a prominent television show that is shown all over the world. Following Ricky since Menudo, it is always nice to see him succeed and maybe one day, I won’t look at him as 12-year-old Little Ricky…but as a Menudo fan, I doubt it.

Single Review: Charlie Masso – “Yo No Vivo Sin Ti”

The popular member of the Puerto Rican group, Menudo, Charlie Masso decided that it was time to get back into the music scene with a new solo hit, “Yo No Vivo Sin Ti.” He released the single on all digital platforms this past April and has already been touring around Latin America promoting his new song and his upcoming venture.

“Yo No Vivo Sin Ti” is classic Charlie Masso style with him confessing love to fans making his lady fans swoon. His vocals are just as great as ever and with the right promotion, Charlie has the potential to reach the romance music that is popular today with bands like Rio Romo and Camila. The new era of romantic ballads is music heavy versus vocal-heavy like in the ’80s and 90’s when Charlie had his hay day. Much has changed since Masso’s solo days when major labels gave everyone contracts and albums. Today, major labels are picky so artists are going the indie route to get their music heard. Charlie is no exception and is embracing the independence of the music industry.

Besides a fabulous heart-tugging single, Charlie has created a management company called CMasso to help other artists break into the industry. With much experience in the music industry, both good and bad, Charlie is a perfect person to give other indie artists the tools and knowledge of what it takes to make it and struggle for radio play and popularity in such a tough market.

Charlie Masso was part of Menudo during the 80’s golden era and became one of the most popular members due to his sultry vocal styles. During his time in the group, Charlie had a lot of ballads which allowed him to perfect that romantic persona that led him to a brief success in Mexico and Latin America as a soloist. Charlie released five albums as a soloist with his last studio album being a tribute to Jose Jose. Charlie also became part of the original Menudo reunion, “El Reencuentro.” Fans hoped to see the guys come back as soloists after the end of that tour, but it took Charlie until recently to decide to come back to let that seductive voice be heard without the backup of his old Menudo pals.

“Yo No Vivo Sin Ti” is available to stream and download on all popular digital outlets.

Single Review: Kings Harem – “Shake It Up”

Ex-Menudo, Ruben Gomez is shaking it up with his indie band, Kings Harem

Hairbands, which are now considered “classic rock” are still around and have a huge following, just look at Moderatto out of Mexico. They made a killing as a hairband and have made their way back on to Top 40 radio. So, when you have someone who lives that life-like Ex-Menudo, Ruben Gomez, what better way to rock out than to have your own hairband.

Ruben has been working with Kings Harem, an indie band out of New York. Now, while their music really doesn’t fall within my guidelines for promoting, supporting, and reviewing; the band has one key element for me. Ruben.

So as a faithful Menudo fan, I am always willing to give a former Menudo member a chance and help introduce music fans to new music. Kings Harem is classic rock all the way and Ruben’s voice is perfect for this style of music. The combination works well for them.

Now, the song “Shake It Up” was originally released in 2012 as I am told by Spotify. This is the most recent single available which is why I decided to review this. While it isn’t my jam, it’s not all that bad. As I said, Ruben’s voice is perfect for the song.

What it is lacking is a catchy and memorable chorus. Yes, classic rock can have a chorus that grabs you by the balls and throws you up against the wall so it stays with you for a while. “Shake It Up” doesn’t do that for me. Now, Ruben don’t hate me for saying this but the chorus sounds like a boy band that lacks harmony and rhythm.

While this is a review of the single, not all of Kings Harem’s songs are that way. Many of the other tracks available on Spotify are pretty decent featuring Ruben’s vocal stylings. If you liked Menudo during their rock era, you can appreciate the genre that Ruben is hitting with his band. The group performs in small clubs and has been hitting the airwaves on some of the local rock stations in New York.

I’m proud that Ruben is continuing in the music and wish the band much success. If you get time, head over to Spotify and check out Kings Harem. That classic rock sound still is alive.

Is this the end of MenudoMania?

What’s happening with the MenudoMania Forever tour? Sadly, it feels as if it is falling apart right before our eyes before we have had a chance for a full-fledged tour.

The 80s pop group from Puerto Rico had called it, quits after many attempts to revive the group had failed, but remember of the “golden era” knew that Menudo fever couldn’t be gone forever. Six members from the golden era joined forces to create El Reencuentro. Rene, Johnny, Miguel, Ricky Melendez, Charlie, and Ray Reyes hit success with two very successful tours and the first-ever live album from Menudo. This reunion super-group began in 1998, continued to tour and perform together until 2015, when Johnny and Ricky decided to no longer be a part of the group. They cited issues with money as the reason for their abandonment.

Johnny and Ricky’s positions in the reunion group were replaced with one Robert Avellanet, who joined Menudo in the late ’80s and had no connection with his fellow bandmates. Robert won the hearts of the nostalgic middle-aged mothers and housewives, who rekindled their love affair with Menudo with El Reencuentro. This change also included one big/MAJOR bonus, they would allow the guys to use the Menudo name and logo for their new tour.

This new and most awesome tour would be a Menudo fans perfect wet dream, in theory. Not only would Robert join the group, but so would Rawy Torres, who traveled with the band at the same time as Robert. Then add the return of MDO, and to top it off, special appearances by almost any member who wanted to come back, which many did. Now we have MenudoMania.

The term Menudomania was founded in the early ’80s and like Menuditis, it was a term that gave fans who were infected by the love for Menudo. And in 2016, Menudomania hit Miami with a massive trip down memory lane. Rene, Miguel, Charlie, Ray, Robert, Rawy, Jonathon, Abel, Alexis, Ashley, Didier, Daniel, and Pablo united for a concert that hoped to have a mega-sized turnout. The concert’s reception didn’t have as good of crowds as El Reencuentro’s concert tour, but it sparked fan’s love again, especially those in Mexico and Central American countries.

After the concert, various members of the supergroup began appearing on television programs for interviews and oddly enough the members appearing changed time, mostly keeping Charlie Masso as the spokesperson for the group and tour. When certain members seem to be lost in the group’s interviews, you start to wonder what was going on. Fans realized as dates set that there are two sets of concerts. Menudo concerts with five members: Rene, Ray, Miguel, Charlie, and Robert, then there were Menudomania concerts, the reunion super concert.

On July 7, 2016, both Rene and Ray announced that they will not be appearing any long in the Menudomania Forever reunion tour but would continue as Menudo. They both cited their reasons were financial against the creator of the Menudomania tour. The tour continued on without Rene and Ray, but also without huge participation from Miguel, as well. He seemed to have moved away from the concerts to a small guest appearance and having a presence similar to a godfather. Charlie Masso is the only member left from the group’s golden era.

As fans and social media play a big part in everyone’s world, they connect fans to former members of the group and accusations began to fly over the media and publicity. Members like Adrian Olivares had his name on the flyers for Mexico concerts, yet Adrian was never even asked to be a part of the reunion. Some say that Ray Acevedo was kicked out of the tour during rehearsals because of attitude problems.

Now, Charlie Masso announced via social media that he too was leaving the group because of financial reasons against the creators of the reunion tour. He has even been removed from the concert tours official website. Seems to me that all your original members have disbanded for the same reason and it leaves us with no one representing the original group. Remember, Miguel (who has not officially left) is not performing full concerts any longer. Not that there is anything wrong with Robert and Rawy and Jonathon (who only true faithful fans will know), but MDO is not Menudo.

So where does this leave Menudo (the group) and Menudomania (the reunion)? It’s hard to say, but it feels that without the representation of the original members, there is not a Menudomania even necessary. It may be time to retire Menudo once and for all.

Menudo – “Can’t Get Enough” (1986)

In the ’80s, Menudo was the king of boybands. From 1983 to 1986, the group had released eleven albums in four languages – five if you count the single that is bilingual English/Japanese. One could say that is awesome, but honestly, it could be your downfall. Before 1983, Menudo focused on Latin America and Puerto Rico but the US Latin market was prime for the taking as there were almost no Latin artists hitting American radio. It made sense to move toward the US for Menudo. It was great for business and for music. Menudo opened the doors and eyes to Latin performers and invade the US.

It wasn’t long before Menudomania was literally everywhere. So why not take Menudo everywhere too? Oversaturation can be the downfall for artists and I think that is just what happened. Menudo no long was a commodity, but the greed to make as much money as quickly as possible because you never know when the gravy train would end.

In the summer of 1986, Menudo released Can’t Get Enough, the group’s third English album. The album didn’t even get US promotion before members began leaving the group. The album marked the final recordings of both Charlie Masso and Robby Rosa (Draco Rosa). I don’t think the plan was for both of those members to leave before the planned “Summer In The Streets” tour, but the lack of luster for this album, the saturation of the band, and the greed of management…This felt like the end of Menudo.

By far the worst musical album, Can’t Get Enough, featured half English versions of tracks from the album, Refrescante, with the other half brand new tracks. “Summer In The Streets,” the title track just didn’t have the marketability that songs like “Hold Me” had to grab a stronghold on the US market. While they did get a little promotion, they were still riding the wave of 1985’s success with their second English album. “We Have A Song,” “Tell Me How You Feel” and “Old Enough To Love” contain horrible lyrics and musically, just were not up to par with what Menudo represented.

Even the English translated songs of “Jumpin’ Over (Salta La Valla)”, “Stay With Me (Besame)”, “Marie I Need You (Amiga Mia)”, and “I Can’t Spend Another Day (Con Un Beso Y Una Flor)” were not horrible, but what do you expect from translated songs. They literally are never good. But when you have the manly Charlie Masso singing “Jumpin Over Jumpin Over, that wall, that wall…,” I sorted feel embarrassed for him. They could have given one of the most important members of the group a good send-off with a beautiful ballad or even a brand new song that could show off his talents.

Shortly after the album was released, Charlie Masso left the group and his replacement, Ralphy Rodriguez came into the group. Shortly after that, Robby decided to leave. This left Menudo’s “Summer In The Streets” tour to wait almost of a whole year. While ultimately the tour did very well in 1987, Can’t Get Enough felt like the end of Menudo’s reign on boyband music.

Menudo – “Quiero Ser” (1981)

You may know this album as “Quiero Ser, “Rock Chiquillo,” or even “Fuego” depending on what country you were in when the album was released in 1981. The album was released around the world and help Menudo gain worldwide success as this album was probably the most accessible for pop music fans in the early ’80s. It still had a nice disco beat that was people were still hanging on to at that time, especially in Latin America. Quiero Ser, the album, is probably one of Menudo’s top-selling albums of all time. While numbers just aren’t around like they are now, this album has some of the most successful hits from Menudo’s long history.

Featuring veteran member, Ricky Melendez, along with Rene Farrait, Johnny Lozada, Xavier Serbia, and the newest member at the time, a young, Miguel Cancel, this is the group that put Menudo on the musical map for success. As I said, this album has been released in many countries which also means there a quite a few different editions to the album available out there on the second-hand market. Being a collector of Menudo music, this is probably the album that creates the most havoc for collectors.

While I love to talk about differences in versions and editions, I also love to talk about music too. Menudo’s biggest hits like “Subete A Mi Moto,” “Quiero Ser,” and “Claridad” were all on this album. When discussing Menudo music with older fans, those songs are usually mentioned a lot. While they are great songs, they are not the best of the album by far. Two of my favorite all-time Menudo songs come from this album. “Rock En La TV” and “Bailemos En El Mar,” both sung by Miguel, are great tunes that you can jam out to whenever they come on the radio.

The song, “Subete A Mi Moto” actually has two versions and can be found on different versions and editions. At the time, they might have issued the version that sings, “Sube A Mi Motora.” But ultimately, the official version of the song is “Subete A Mi Moto,” which is the version that will be sung during concerts for years after. From what I have learned over the years, the alternate version was a demo that was released on early editions in South American countries. It was re-recorded and released on the later editions such as those in the US and Mexico.

The album was released on CD in the ’90s by BMG and that CD version is very sought after. The rights to the music seem to be up in the air, especially in countries such as Puerto Rico and Panama, where MTM has released a new CD version that is available at record stores in those countries. Though if you do get one of the new CDs, you will not have the song “Ella-a-a.” That song was officially released on the previous album of “Fuego,” but many editions of the album “Quiero Ser” also featured the song.

No matter what version you own, the fact that you own some of the greatest Menudo songs of all time is a win for you.