The RAS label might specialize in reggae, but in the case of Puerto Rico's Bayanga, they have a band that's much more than a single genre; in fact, reggae is only apparent on two or three tracks of this self-titled disc. Elsewhere the band takes on salsa, Brazilian axé music, and any number of Caribbean rhythms, as well as forays into much freer ideas (as on "The Cool Bus Experience"). All too often, refusing to be pinned down to such an extent would actually work against them. But in this case, there's an energy and vitality that makes it a plus. They even take on Bob Marley, turning in an excellent version of "I Shot The Sheriff" that's horn-powered, before it takes off into a finale that's eerily reminiscent of early Santana with percussion percolating, and guitar raising the excitement factor. But there's no shortage of pleasures on this disc, whether it's the rootsy "Cohimbre's Stylee'," or the more sophisticated "Rumbaskankin'," which give the song's styles in their titles. These guys can play up a storm -- in fact, about the only area where they could be beefed up is vocally, singer Herminio could use a stronger voice. Beyond that, this is an unalloyed joy, and absolutely perfect for summer.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson