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Rhythms del Mundo Classics Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A hit-and-miss range of performances.

Jon Lusk 2009

The first Rhythms del Mundo charity album was prompted by the Indian Ocean tsunami, and paired crack Cuban musicians (most associated with the Buena Vista Social Club) with various big names, covering well known pop songs. This second instalment follows much the same formula, and as with many such multi-artist efforts, it's frustratingly inconsistent, with some songs suiting a Latin makeover better than others, and a hit-and-miss range of performances.

Some songs (The Killers, Editors, KT Tunstall, The Zutons and OneRepublic) were recorded specifically for the project, with the rest cobbled together from other sources and added to by the uniformly slick Rhythms del Mundo musicians.

The Killers' Brandon Flowers somehow manages to put his own wobbly stamp on the Hotel California, and having such a strong Latin undertow anyway, it sounds fine with brass, congas and so on percolating through it. Amy Winehouse's fine reading of Cupid (taken from the Back To Black deluxe edition bonus disc and revamped) is the other most noteworthy track. Other happy marriages include Cat Power's languid transformation of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction and their own surprisingly understated take on Under The Boardwalk.

Jack Johnson gets his second Rhythms del Mundo outing on John Lennon's iconic Imagine, but the song suits neither his stoned surfer croon nor its breezy 'salsa romantica' arrangement. Even so, it's nothing like as offensive as Kaiser Chiefs' insincere mauling of I Heard It Through The Grapevine, nor as ridiculous as Augusto Enriquez doing Bohemian Rhapsody in Spanish. ¡Por favor!

This highlights the album's other major flaw, aside from its surfeit of 'landfill indie' chancers like The Kooks and Editors. Although ostensibly produced, ''to raise awareness and funds for climate crisis projects and natural disaster relief'', the only material that chimes with the environmental message is Aquila Rose and Idana Valdes' bilingual version of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.

OK, pop songs generally aren't very 'green', but Marvin Gaye could easily have been represented by, say, What's Goin' On and the late Michael Jackson by, um... Earth Song, rather than Fall Out Boy's feeble cover of Beat It. Skip it.

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