David Byrne was very interested in new forms of Latin music, and since there was an embargo on most things Cuban at the time Luaka Bop didn't really know what was going on there without going over and seeing for theiselves. So in 1990 they did. The label did three albums there, the first 1991's Cuba Classics 1 The Best of Silvio Rodriguez, is actually their best selling album of all time (selling 400,000 copies). In that annoying way of Westerners comparing people from another culture to someone in their own, Silvio was often compared to being the Bob Dylan of Latin America. This was not only because he sang songs of political importance but also because he could fill stadiums and he sang poetry. His influence is not to be underestimated.
"How does one describe Silvio’s music to someone who has never heard it?...I could say it’s very popular; he performed at a stadium last year in Chile to an audience of 90,000! I could list some of his influences: Leadbelly, traditional Cuban singers like Sindo Garay, The Beatles, Victor Jara, Violeta Parra, Tschaikovsky and Beethoven, Bob Dylan, Ché, Pablo Neruda, Neil Young, and popular Cuban music (what is often called Salsa). I could say that if you think Cuban music is all Rumbas and Cha-cha-chas you’ll be surprised. It’s pop music with beautiful & sophisticated lyrics mixed with some typical Cuban stylings: a “Latin” bass line propelling “Rock” chord changes..." - David Byrne