Figuratively speaking, the planet is shrinking by the day, and Manu Chao is singularly qualified to capture this contraction in song. Born in Paris of Spanish parents, he grew up listening to sounds from across the globe, and his recordings have managed to encompass these influences without diluting his personal style. As evidence, spin Radio Bemba Sound System, a live salvo from 2002. On songs such as "Welcome to Tijuana," Chao and his raucous co-conspirators utilize reggae rhythms, Caribbean grooves and electronic instrumentation, with nods to rock, funk, DJ culture and lots more. The resulting mix constitutes thinking-man's party music so infectious that reps at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are probably studying it right now — and they'd better hurry, because "Rainin in Paradise" — a single available for free download at www.manuchao.net as a preview of La Rodiolina, an album set for a September debut — is mighty catchy as well. With every note, Manu Chao, assisted on this date by Gogol Bordello, proves that it's a smaller world after all.
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