What happens when some of the most familiar names in popular music suddenly and inexplicably find themselves fused with a distinctive latin flavour?
Imagine the comfortable and familiar 4/4 arrangements that the populist listener takes for granted are suddenly washed away on a tide of lilting somewhat sexy backdrops of Cuban musicianship. Think of loose agile percussive beats and the intimate drawl of brass and excitable stabs of piano.
Well if that’s what you’re thinking then you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. Welcome to Rhythms Del Mundo with The Buena Vista Sound featuring Cuba, It’s almost a mash up album but then again its not. You see instead of blending two existing tracks together what has happened here is that the original vocals remain Buena Vista Social Club have recreated new musical arrangements for them to languish in.
Coldplay, The Arctic Monkeys, U2, Franz Ferdinand and Radiohead are among the names involved with this project that aside from entertainment value is also working towards helping a charitable concern. A minimum of ?2 is going towards the APE charity. Essentially a concern where music and the arts raise funds and create awareness to environmental disasters, climate change and related challenges.
As a collection it works in the main part, there’s more than a hint of cheeky novelty in hearing the familiar getting bent into new and favourable shapes. The prospect of hearing the rough hewn stylings of the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs getting a classy rebuild like this is almost worth the price of admission alone. Elsewhere tracks by Faithless (One Step Too Far) lend themselves to these new versions effortlessly and its almost like this was the form they were intended to take.
Elsewhere a number of musical standards have been given the treatment (Killing Me Softly, As Time Goes By) and these gentle reworkings by Omara Portuondo and Ibrahim Ferrer make for comfortable background listening. Sting gets a little more involved with a re recording of his track Fragile while Norah Jones’ debut single Don’t Know Why gets fine cover treatment from Vanya Borges. One of the most bizarre moments on the album comes courtesy of Coco Freeman and Franz Ferdinand with the reworking of The Dark Of The Matinee. There’s still something vaguely amusing about hearing Terry Wogan’s name suddenly dropping out of a Spanish lyric. And as the album draws to a close with El Lele de Los Van Van’s cover of High and Dry it kind of proves that a good Radiohead song will work in any language.
As an album this does hit first with a novelty strike but whereas some offerings of this nature would quickly burn out this one does go the extra mile. The veteran quality of the musicianship is evident and a pleasure in itself and if you fancy trying out those Strictly Ballroom moves this could make an alternative accompaniment. And remember folks the proceeds go to charity.