Eight years after its creation, Fania Records had accumulated such a sizable catalog of artists that it began to issue compilations from its roster of hit-making stars such as Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco, and Ray Barretto. In fact, Crime Pays was the first anthology the label put out in 1972.

The ironically titled Crime Pays was a comment on the success of Colón’s carefully cultivated bad guy image that he sustained until the mid-1970s. The anthology compiles nine key cuts from his first four albums. His 1967 debut album El Malo (The Bad Guy) is represented by his first hit, the mambo jazz instrumental Jazzy and the title track, a bomba-guaguancó composed by Colón. Jazzy was co-penned by Colón and his African-American pianist Dwight Brewster and bassist James Taylor. The album’s recording director, Fania co-founder Johnny Pacheco, bought Héctor Lavoe in to sing lead vocals. According to Brewster’s biography, Lavoe initially shared the view of older musicians that Colón’s was a kiddie band, but it was only after he heard the playback of “Jazzy” and two Colón/Brewster tunes that he changed his mind and agreed to join. Lavoe was to remain until Colón gave up his band in 1974.



  1. Ché Ché Colé
  2. El Malo
  3. Guisando
  4. Jazzy
  5. Juana Pena
  6. Guajirón
  7. El Titán
  8. Qué Lío
  9. Eso Se Baila Así