Mano Negra

Puta's Fever

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The highly influential Puta's Fever opened the door for a flood of young rock bands outside the English-speaking music world to fashion new hybrids that reflected their own musical cultures blended with popular worldwide sounds like rock and reggae. Manu Chao and company started from patchanka, a fast-paced French music hall style that sounds like speeded-up ragtime or hot jazz, and started singing songs in Spanish, French, and Arabic. The motor driving all the disparate elements on Puta's Fever is Santiago el Aguila Casariego's fierce drumming. And what an array of styles -- calliope-like keyboards, a Latin groove on "Patchanka," Tex-Mex on Joe "King" Carrasco's "Patchuko Hop," and dub reggae on "Peligro" -- pass through Mano Negra's manic mix. "Mano Negra" sounds like soundtrack music for a spaghetti western surf movie (really), while "Rebel Spell" marries a gospel chorus and hard rock guitar to a rapped street tale of shooting Brother Rasta dead. Puta's Fever is a triumph of eclecticism as a style where each song shifts into a different musical gear, and one key jumping-off point for the rock en español (or Latin alternative) school. Which doesn't mean that Mano Negra abandoned their original inspiration -- English lyrics dominate and there's a strong identification with a classic rock & roll outlaw stance in "Rock 'N' Roll Band" and the '50s-rooted "Devil's Call."

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