Nine years after the release of Red Hot + Latin: Silencio = Muerte, this reconfigured reissue takes the cream of the original album, strips away some tunes (including, unfortunately, those by Rubén Blades, Melissa Etheridge and Brazilian metal giants Sepultura) and tucks in a handful of new tracks. The 1997 compilation, which appeared on Jellybean Benitez's H.O.L.A. label, not only helped usher in the era of Latin alternative music in a big way; it also contributed to the awareness of AIDS in the Latino community. It was a visionary project in its bold pairings of Latino and non-Latino artists: ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne collaborated with Café Tacuba; dancehall superstar Buju Banton joined with los Pericos on the wired "Wanna Be Loved," and the set opened with los Lobos' quasi-jazzy meet-up with Beastie Boys associate Money Mark. A particular highlight was -- and remains -- the funky/giddy take on the old Tom Jones hit "What's New Pussycat?" that brought together the Argentine band los Fabulosos Cadillacs and the American party-time funk-punks Fishbone. The five new tracks naturally give Red Hot and Latin Redux a more contemporary sound, but overall -- perhaps because Latin alt has become such a well-established genre -- they don't exude the same visionary sense that pervaded the original compilation. Nortec Collective's reggae-esque "Que Bonita Ballas" and Thievery Corporation's "Sol Tapado" never really take off, but Kinky's "Sister Twisted" and "Crosseyed and Painless," the album-closing workout starring Brazilian Girls and Kevin Johansen, are worthy successors to the deleted tracks -- the latter, in particular, is a keeper, with its cinematic, atmospheric grandeur and a can't-sit-down dancefloor groove. Proceeds from the upgrade were slated to go to the Red Hot Organization to continue in the battle against AIDS.
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AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin