Essentials is quite simply a stripped down best-of Mano Negra that focuses on their singles rather than on the entirety of what made this band so special. As far as it goes -- 12 tracks -- it is all essential material, but anyone at all interested in the band should pick up the double-disc Lo Mejor de La Mano Negra instead. All of these cuts are there, plus 13 more on disc one alone, and, to add to the magic, a second disc contains live recordings that are out of this world exciting. This set is just too small an offering to do justice to the French group with the Latin name that played everything form punk to ska to son to hard salsa and roots rock -- often in a single three-minute track.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek