El General

Clubb 555

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Give the Panamanian DJ El General credit for not resting on his Latin-rooted dancehall laurels, since Clubb 555 moves in a keyboard-dominated, techno-oriented direction. The material is inconsistent and the themes again revolve around dancing and girls, but he's still an engagingly goofy character, knows how to put tracks together, and his rapid-fire Spanish fits the rhythms like a glove. The opening "Bacalao" sets the tone with its thumping, lurching drums and keyboard bass -- the arrangements are more fully fleshed out, relying on textures and melodies far more than rampaging percussion and breakneck tempos. "Tuki Tuki" is an interesting mélange that's a positive shout-out for reggae, while the music generally leans much more toward the Jamaican style and contemporary dancehall trends by using dischords and keyboard sounds. "Dámelo" does the dancehall/'50s R&B dance with a rockabilly guitar lick thrown in, and El General liked the sound so much he reprised it for "Cógelo." "Noche de Fiesta" employs a real familiar melody surrounded by sounds and -- yes, that is a banjo and country feel, a cop of one of the stranger dancehall trends. But the best track is "Perezosa," anchored by a deadly keyboard hook (shades of "Show Me Love" by Robin S.) throughout a brilliant Latin house of rub-a-dub arrangement. Vocally, it's as much a feature for Anayka standing tall against the laziness charge laid down by El General, and "Funkete" works off another monster keyboard riff and lurching rhythm. "Hasta Cuando?" must be some kind of Latin pop hit or standard, done up pretty faithfully here with percussion and horns, and "Jingle Belele" amusingly goofs on Christmas carol sentiments. But all the novelties tilt this lighthearted music over the line into the too-lightweight zone, so Clubb 555 winds up enjoyable but not particularly special, even with a great track like "Perezosa."

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