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Manu Chao

Manu Chao helped begin the Latin alternative movement way back in the '80s -- although it had no name then -- and in his later work he cut a cross-cultural swath across styles and geographic boundaries. Chao was born on June 26, 1961, in Paris to Spanish parents -- his father, Ramon Chao, a respected writer, comes from Galicia, his mother Bilbao. Growing up bilingual, he was also influenced by the punk scene across the English Channel that happened while he was still in his teens. As a teen he played in bands, including a rockabilly outfit called Les Hot Pants, which won local critical praise but never went anywhere before breaking up. After that, Chao and his cousin began Mano Negra, named for an anarchist organization that operated in Spain. They recorded their first single, "Mala Vida," for a small label, but its French success led them to a contract with Virgin -- something many early fans decried as selling out. Multilingual and decidedly multicultural, but with an edge heavily influenced by the punk rock of the Clash, Mano Negra seemed comfortably at home anywhere, be it North Africa or North America, in their music. Operating as a collective, without a manager, wasn't the best way to guarantee international success, and their attempts to break the U.S. at the start of the '90s didn't work -- America simply wasn't ready for their musical ratatouille. However, Europe loved them, as did South America. In 1992 they began a seemingly odd tour of Latin America, traveling by boat with actors and a circus, playing in port cities on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, aided and abetted by various political guerilla groups, which sometimes didn't sit well with governments. In 1995, Chao moved the band to Spain, where he also formed another outfit, Radio Bemba Sound System, employing both musicians from Mano Negra and outside, which, according to rumors, caused rifts within the ranks, leading to the split of Mano Negra. Chao then returned to South and Central America, spending the next few years drifting around with his guitar and a four-track, recording here and there. The resultant collection of songs was released in 1998 (1999 in the U.S.) under the title Clandestino and included a reworking of the Mano Negra track "King of Bongo," which was picked up for use on the soundtrack to Madonna's The Next Big Thing. The album itself took off very slowly, but after a year was going stronger than ever, a sleeper that found its niche in the burgeoning Latin alternative scene (even though its lyrics freely mixed English and French along with the Spanish). In 2000 Chao played a rare pair of shows in Los Angeles, and in June 2001 released Proxima Estacion: Esperanza, which showed that his musical self had been spending the last couple of years soaking up the sounds of the Caribbean. This was further explored on Radio Bemba Sound System, a live recording done in 2002 that was taken from the tour following Proxima Estacion: Esperanza. In 2004 Chao released his first French-only album, Sibérie M'était Contéee, about Paris, and in 2007 Radiolina, the artist's first studio album in six years, came out. It was followed in 2009 by the release of another live album, Baionarena, and by further heavy worldwide touring, including a number of high-profile festival appearances. ~ Chris Nickson
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Stations Featuring
Manu Chao

    World Music

    World Music
    27 songs

    Rock Latino

    Rock Latino
    11 songs

Albums by
Manu Chao

Top Songs by
Manu Chao

  1.   Song
  2.   Me Llaman Calle
  3.   Politik Kills
  4.   Bongo Bong
  5.   La Vida Tombola
  6.   Y Ahora Qué?
  7.   El Hoyo
  8.   A Cosa
  9.   Panik Panik
  10.   Rainin' In Paradize
  11.   Mala Fama
  12.   La Vie a
  13.   Dia Lina... Dia Pena
  14.   Desaparecido
  15.   Mentira...
  16.   Je Ne T'Aime Plus
  17.   Minha Galera
  18.   Mama Call
  19.   Lagrimas de Oro
  20.   Besoin De La Lune
  21.   13 Días
  22.   El Kitapena
  23.   Infinita Tristeza
  24.   Malegria
  25.   Por el Suelo
  26.   Luna y Sol
  27.   La Despedida
  28.   Piccola Radiolina
  29.   Volver, Volver
  30.   Mr. Bobby
  31.   Clandestino
  32.   El Viento
  33.   Me Gustas Tu
  34.   Welcome to Tijuana
  35.   Intro
  36.   Forzando Maquina/Mr. Bobby
  37.   Que Paso Que Paso
  38.   Mala Vida
  39.   Que Pasa Que Paso
  40.   Radio Bemba
  41.   Bienvenida a Tijuana
  42.   Rumba De Barcelona
  43.   Bixo
  44.   Tumba
  45.   Sidi H'bibi
  46.   Radio Bemba/Eldorado 1997
  47.   Me Quedo Contigo (Si Me das Elegir)
  48.   La Despedida/Mentira
  49.   L' Hiver Est Là
  50.   Hamburger Fields/Merry Blues
  51.   Dia Luna Dia Pena
  52.   Crèv' La Vie
  53.   Mundoreves
  54.   Tristeza Maleza
  55.   Amalucada Vida
  56.   Soñe Otro Mundo
  57.   Siberia
  58.   Mama Cuchara
  59.   The Bleedin Clown
  60.   Otro Mundo
  61.   La Primavera
  62.   The Monkey
  63.   Pinocchio (Viaggio In Groppa Al Tonno)
  64.   EZLN...para Tod@s Todo...
  65.   Casa Babylon
  66.   Peligro
  67.   Por Donde Saldra El Sol
  68.   Machine Gun
  69.   La Vacaloca
  70.   Homens
  71.   La Marea
  72.   La Chinita
  73.   Papito
  74.   Le Rendez Vous
  75.   Trapped by Love
  76.   Mi Vida
  77.   Denia
  78.   Promiscuity
  79.   Eldorado 1997
  80.   Merry Blues

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