Buena Vista Social Club is the debut album by the eponymous ensemble of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder. It was recorded at Havana's EGREM studios in March 1996 and released on September 16, 1997, on World Circuit. Despite its success, it remains the only standard studio album exclusively credited to the Buena Vista Social Club.
Buena Vista Social Club was recorded in parallel with A toda Cuba le gusta by the Afro-Cuban All Stars, a similar project also promoted by World Circuit executive Nick Gold and featuring largely the same lineup. In contrast to A toda Cuba le gusta, which was conceived as a revival of the son conjunto, Buena Vista Social Club was meant to bring back the traditional trova and filin, a mellower take on the Cuban son and bolero, as well as the danzón.
A critical and commercial success, the album's release was followed by a short concert tour in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall in 1998. Footage from these dates, together with the recording sessions in Havana, were shown on the Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, released in 1999.