Articles & Presse UK



OFTEN called the new Bob Marley or Joe Strummer, French-Spanish musician Manu Chao is already huge everywhere that doesn’t speak English. With the 3 September release of La Radiolina, his first album in six years, he should f inally conquer the rest of the globe.

The 46-year-old has recently been touring the US, despite being one of music’s most outspoken critics of its government, where new songs such as the tense groove of Politik Kills demonstrated that he hasn’t toned down his socially aware subject matter to win new fans.

He has turned up the guitars, however, generating an exhilarating Latin punk sound on tracks such as Rainin in Paradize, Siberia and El Hoyo.

Elsewhere, his familiar rubbery, reggae-tinged funk is still much in evidence over a generous 21 tracks. There’s something for everyone – even us anglophones.

Global sights: Manu Chao

Manu Chao is considered one of the pioneers of the Latin Alternative movement. Born in Paris to Spanish parents, Chao was heavily influenced by the U.K. punk scene during his teen years. With his cousin, Chao formed his first major band, Mano Negra, during the mid-’80s. The band’s first single, « Mala Vida, » was released by a small label, but its French success led them to a contract with Virgin.

Mano Negra eventually split, but Chao had already formed Radio Bemba Sound System, a collective of widely diverse groups such as Tijuana No! (from Mexico), Skank (from Brazil), and Todos Tus Muertos (from Argentina). Chao then spent the next few years drifting around South and Central America with his guitar and a four-track, which resulted in a collection of songs titled Clandestino that was released in 1999 in the U.S.

In June 2001, he released Próxima Estación: Esperanza, named after metro station stops in Madrid. The album was an instant hit, leading to a successful tour that resulted in the 2002 live album, Radio Bemba Sound System. In 2005, the musician returned with his French album, Sibérie M’Était Contée.

La Radiolina, Chao’s first international release since 2001, arrives September 4. The first single on the new album, « Rainin’ in Paradize, » is available for download at Zune Marketplace today.

Published on Aug. 8, 2007.