Radio Bemba Sound System (2002) This is a discovery like Columbus' discovery of America -- Chao has been a rock hero across the Latin diaspora since he fronted Clash-conscious rockers… 2002-09-17 Manu Chao
Music Review

Radio Bemba Sound System (2002)

EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: Sep 17, 2002; Lead Performance: Manu Chao

This is a discovery like Columbus' discovery of America -- Chao has been a rock hero across the Latin diaspora since he fronted Clash-conscious rockers Mano Negra in the '80s. But his anthems of the dispossessed strive for internationalism. Lyrics are Spanish and English, with occasional Portuguese, French, and Italian detours; the music is a mosh pit of surging ska-punk and reggae-rock with mariachi and speed-polka flourishes. This rough-hewn, career-spanning live disc plays like a pirate-radio broadcast, and while the between-song jump cuts jar, the 29-song relay race never flags. A much cooler home-study language course than anything by Berlitz. BORDERLESS CULTURE Chao's trademark descending-spaceship synth-squeal, which reappears throughout, is a reminder that -- in the new world order -- ''alien'' is a slippery concept.

Originally posted Oct 25, 2002 Published in issue #679 Oct 25, 2002 Order article reprints