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This page was last updated on 08/02/2007 12:10:24

 

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Rhythms del Mundo
06 February 2007

Rhythms del Mundo

A new cd brings together the Cuban 'world music' stars of the Buena Vista Social Club and prominent figures from western pop

Such is the success of the Buena Vista Social Club that the Cuban collective remain the clear stars of this new compilation album, made with international artists such as Coldplay, the Arctic Monkeys, Dido and U2. The concept works best when the Cuban flavour is strongest.

The concept works best when the Cuban flavour is strongest

The cd has been put together by Artists' Project Earth - a charity working with environmental disasters and, especially, climate change.

So-called 'world' music is often ignored by the mainstream western world of pop unless it suits a particular project. A shorthand for anything that doesn't quite fit within the narrow horizons of the Anglo-American centred mainstream, the 'world' label is actually reductive - suggesting a homogeneous focus and ethnicity across most of the planet's population.

The Buena Vista Social Club have successfully worked against such preconceived notions, creating a distinctive sound and becoming stars outside of their imposed genre.

At its best, the international cross-fertilisation found on this album creates new and unexpected cadences and juxtapositions, and the resulting global focus can give extra weight. At its worst, it risks coming across as overly worthy, even patronising. Sting singing Fragile in Spanish is largely lifeless but Franz Ferdinand pull off the same trick much more effectively and endearingly in The Dark of the Matinee.

It is, however, the older Buena Vista singers on the album that steal the show. Omara Portuondo trills, rasps and whispers her way through an excellent Killing Me Softly, and the highlight is As Time Goes By - a track given extra emotional intensity by the fact that it turned out to be Ibrahim Ferrer's last recording before his death.

Jack Johnson (Better Together), in comparison, sounds like rather perfunctory easy listening, with almost no concessions made to Cuban collaboration - as if the original track has just had a few horns played over the top. Arctic Monkeys' higher tempo Dancing Shoes is a much better fit with the lively Latin rhythms.

If you're a Buena Vista Social Club virgin, there are better places to start. Charity collaborations are hard to knock, but it's a shame that it takes global warming to bring these artists together. Some of the more established mainstream stars here have much to learn from their Cuban counterparts.

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Links

Artists' Project Earth: Supporting appropriate action and facilitating awareness-raising and education with regard to environmental disasters and climate change.

Catalyst Music: all music-related stories past and present from Catalyst


Commission for Racial Equality

Publisher of Catalyst Magazine, the CRE works to create a just and integrated society, where diversity is valued.

openDemocracy

Independent political discussion and debate based on exchange and participation.

Prospect Magazine

A political magazine, Prospect also includes features on arts and culture, science, economics, history, social affairs and philosophy.

Runnymede Trust

The Runnymede Trust promotes a successful multi-ethnic Britain.

Institute of Race Relations

The Institute of Race Relations is a race relations thinktank.

EUMC

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Social policy research and development.

For more links, see our new links page.

Search Catalyst

Search For:


Promote Catalyst

If you are able to promote Catalyst in your workplace, university etc, please download our poster, a pdf which can be printed at A4 or A3 size.

Small print

Contributor and illustrator information

Articles published in Catalyst do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Commission for Racial Equality.

For advertising or editorial enquiries, please .

rss logo | What is RSS?

This page was last updated on 08/02/2007 12:10:24

 

© Commission for Racial Equality 2007

 

CRE 30 years logo