Tequila, Sexo, Marijuana

Jan 20, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Original material that sounds unlike any other music you've ever heard.

Cons:Some of the tracks blend into eachother too much, repetition is sometimes excessive.

The Bottom Line: Manu Chao has successfully created a simple and yet enjoyable fusion of many musical styles. And he's a huge Bob fan!

Let me introduce you to a man who is without a doubt the best artist you’ve never heard of: Manu Chao. Ciao? No, Chao. Née Oscar Tramor. Formerly of the band Mano Negra. Perhaps I was exaggerating earlier. Certainly many people have never heard of him, but I’m sure plenty have heard his music. Those who saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico might recall having heard the song Me Gustas Tu, off his album Proxima Estacion: Esperanza. Born in Paris of Spanish parents, Manu Chao is an extremely politically conscious musician in addition to being an admirer of Bob Marley’s music.

The album is a bumpy patchwork of tracks recorded by Manu on a four-track tape while traveling throughout South and Central America. Clandestino constitutes of seventeen (mostly short) tracks blending musical styles including salsa, reggae, mariachi, flamenco, dub, and techno. It is on the whole a good piece of music, but its true beauty is experienced when listening through headphones. Clandestino is arguably the most stimulating albums for the mind since Dark Side of the Moon.

The album starts off with the title track, Clandestino, Spanish for hidden. Clandestino has a Latin sounding bassline and a raw reggae guitar intro. Here, the listener first gets accustomed to Manu Chao’s tendency to lay several tracks of his own vocal harmonies during one song. The next track’s name is fitting: Desaparecido, Spanish for “disappeared”. My Spanish is limited, yet I still enjoy listening to these first two songs (and other songs on the album) that are in Spanish.

Tracks three and four both use the same riff. The riff is very simple: chord changes being played on keyboards, while a guitar plays the same note every few beats. Despite the repetitiveness, the riff does not get stale. The two songs are Bongo Bong and Je Ne T’aime Plus, in English and French, respectively. Je Ne T’aime Plus is so morose, it’s almost funny.

Mentira is one of the album’s strongest tracks, with a wicked flamenco solo that jumps from channel to channel (again, great on headphones). Todo es mentira, en este mundo, sings Manu. The subsequent four tracks are mediocore, with the exception of Mama Call, another English track. Welcome to Tijuana is bitingly ironic song about the grim reality of Tijuana. Welcome to Tijuana: Tequila, Sexo, Marijuana!

The rest of the album is decent, with La Vie a 2 standing out as an exceptional track. El Viento is a gritty acoustic song with windy sound effects in the background. The album is characterized by all sorts of sound effects at different intervals – many of which sound like recordings of underground radio stations. The sound effects and clips only make the album even better on headphones.

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