When many Americans hear the term "Caribbean music," they tend to think of calypso, soca, and steel drums. But technically, music of the Caribbean also includes everything from Afro-Cuban salsa, Dominican merengue, and Puerto Rican plena to Jamaican ska and reggae. If any label can be counted on to have an eclectic, broad-minded approach to Caribbean music, it's Putumayo; and sure enough, Putumayo's compilation Caribe! Caribe! takes you all over the Caribbean. Not one to be predictable, Putumayo keeps the listener guessing by providing everything from the Black Uhuru-ish reggae of Don Carlos and Gold's "Movin' to the Top" to energetic, infectious sounds from St. Thomas (Osha's "Come Again"), Martinique (Kali's reggae-influenced "La Biguine des Enfants du Bon Dieu"), Belize (Andy Palacio's "Nabi"), and Barbados (Krosfyah's "In Mi System"). Nothing from Cuba, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic is included, but one can hear a strong salsa influence on Haitian singer Beethova Obas' "Lina" and Curacao group La Perfecta's "Bai Drecha Bo Bin." Especially infectious is Aruban band E.Q.Q.'s exuberant "Promo Bia," which is sung in Papiamento, a language that is an unlikely combination of romance and African languages and Dutch. Like many other Putumayo compilations, Caribe! Caribe! boasts comprehensive, informative liner notes and treats the music with the respect it deserves.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson