Mano Negra

  • Mano Negra
  • Puta's Fever (Virgin) 1990 

Reasonably but incompletely described as the French Pogues, the zany eight-man Mano Negra throw together a frenzied ragout of multinationalism on Puta’s Fever, a record — sung in English, Spanish, French and Arabic — in which rock, funk, reggae, folk, flamenco, zouk, salsa, gospel, jazz and numerous other pan-cultural idioms collide in an exhilarating rush of hyperkinetic merriment. Forget the boring Gipsy Kings — Mano Negra is a band Jerry Lewis fans can really understand! With lyrics that are just as conventional as the music, guitarist/singer Manu Chao’s well-crafted songs switch settings — continents, even — as if it were the most natural thing for them to do. Hearing the album for the first time is to enter a dizzying carousel of colorful sounds that are impossible to grasp; becoming intimate with Puta’s Fever is to really feel its indescribable pleasures.

[Ira Robbins]