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

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