Les Négresses Vertes

Acoustic Clubbing

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During the 1990s, Les Négresses Vertes went through a radical change of style, passing from a French-Algerian horn-backed party house to a laid-back dub lounge outfit after the death of singer and inspiration Noël Rota halfway through the decade. After the success of Trabendo (their 2000 dub comeback), which still left fans of the vintage LNV wishing for a different outcome, the group entered the studio to record acoustic versions of a cross-section from their repertoire -- well, mostly acoustic, since there are electric guitar and bass. The idea was to record live in the studio, in an intimate setting. The paradox of this record is that early exuberant songs like "C'est Pas la Mer à Boire" and "Voilà L'Été" (both from the group's debut album Mlah) sound lifeless, half-hearted, emptied from their essence, while newer tracks like "Easy Girls" and "Abuela" work a lot better. One exception: "Les Roublablas les Roubliblis," beautifully executed, contemporized, and approaching the energy of the original recording (Mlah again). Acoustic Clubbing (great title, by the way) sounds like an attempt to conjugate the group's past with its present, but the whole thing comes out somewhat biased. Fans of the early days will probably feel ripped off; followers since Trabendo will be more satisfied, but may miss the dub production.

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