The Live Album

The mÉlange of music, nationalities, and styles that is Manu Chao has met with extraordinary success worldwide, embraced by widely disparate listenerships that find a home in the music of the f

The mélange of music, nationalities, and styles that is Manu Chao has met with extraordinary success worldwide, embraced by widely disparate listenerships that find a home in the music of the former Mano Negra frontman. Chao has been masterful at bringing all his elements together in the studio, and he manages to replicate things onstage, with an added dose of adrenaline. Backed by his band, Radio Bemba Sound System, this disc, recorded during a series of Paris concerts in 2001, incorporates Chao's radio-announcement vignettes and layerings of instrumentation in a seemingly perpetual stream of songs. Actually, it's more of a musical collage than a set of successive tracks, linked together by the repetition of choruses and phrases from the better-known Chao (and Mano Negra) tracks, including "Clandestino," "Radio Bemba," and "Qué Pasó, Qué Pasó." The sheer energy of this set, underscored by a relentless ska beat, is intoxicating. But it is also, despite its tri-lingualism (Chao sings in French, Spanish, and English), utterly repetitive.—LC