For more than four decades, the award-winning Mexican regional group Liberación have enjoyed great popularity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border for their unique, innovative arrangements of cumbias, norteñas, boleros, rancheras, corridos, bandas, and tropical styles such as merengue. Their multi-part vocal harmonies and syncopated rhythms along with a lively stage persona have endeared millions of fans to their unique sound. Indeed, dancing is key when it comes to Liberación's music. Each recording takes "celebration" as its key motivating factor, and also fuels their epic-length concerts. Keyboardist and musical director Virgilio Canales and his multi-generational personnel (that features founding vocalist Juan Tavares) shifted to playing in the grupero style during the '80s. Beginning with 1987's La Suavecita, Liberación began a Mexican Regional Albums and Top Latin Albums chart run that lasted through 2004's Las Mas Bailables de Liberacion, while later recordings for Disa, such as 2008's Cada Vez Mas, remained lively and inspired on both the hardcore ranchera side and the crossover/Latin pop/grupero side, and were celebrated by critics.
Formed in Nuevo Leon in 1976 by keyboardist Virgilio Canales, Liberación commenced as a rock & roll band, but Canales' deep love of the Mexican Regional tradition prompted him to shift his musical focus in the early '80s. Naming his band in solidarity with various social and political liberation movements of the time, he began drafting personnel who shared his vision, but not necessarily his strict musical tastes. Over the course of that decade, Liberación's sound shifted and changed, with a constant focus on innovating inside tradition. They signed to Disa in 1984 and issued their self-titled debut. While some of its tracks received airplay at border radio, it was their live show, delivered at social occasions ranging from weddings and rodeos to clubs and picnics, where word began to spread about the band. Between 1984 and 1989, they issued six self-titled volumes with 1987's La Suavecita making the first dent in the charts
Encouraged by that marginal success, they began touring more than 250 days a year and recorded all the while. Albums appeared every four to six months like clockwork. They broke through when they received three gold records in 1992 for Entre Nubes..., an album that is registered as a classic of the Mexican Regional genre. They won a Heraldo Award in the category of Pop Music Revelation and reached triple-gold status once again in 1994 with Directo al Corazón. The band's popular breakthrough happened in the mid-'90s while touring the U.S. for the second time. As their music created modern frameworks for traditional sounds, their reputation spread to the point where they were playing large venues as headliners. Ever restless, Canales directed incarnations of Liberación from septet and octet to quartet and quintet. Tavares left for a time in 2000, but returned in late 2007 after tiring of a solo career. His studio return on Cada Vez Mas in 2008 was the band's highest-charting album since he left. In 2010, Disa remastered and reissued much of Liberación's catalog and supported the project with a two-year-long tour. After a hits compilation in 2011, followed by yet another epic tour, Liberación quit recording for six long years and took a much-needed respite from the road. The band returned to both in 2017 with the innovative Amigo del Tiempo, which showcased Tavares as lead vocalist for Canales' modernist arrangements of cumbias, merengues, and rancheras. ~ Drago Bonacich