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June 29 , 2010

Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao


A decade ago, Manu Chao's band, Mano Negra, toured Colombia by train, negotiating with government troops and rebels - an episode described at the time as 'less like a rock'n'roll tour - more like Napoleon's retreat from Moscow'. That's Manu in a nutshell. He does everything differently. He is a multi-million selling artist who prefers sleeping on friends' floors to five-star hotels, an anti-globalisation activist who hangs out with prostitute-activists in Madrid and Zapatista leader Comandante Marcos in Chiapas, a recluse who is at home singing in front of 100,000 people in stadiums in Latin America or festivals in Europe.

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Clandestino has been five years in the writing, as Peter Culshaw followed Manu around the world, invited at a moment's notice to head to the Sahara, or Brazil, or to Buenos Aires, where Manu was making a record with mental asylum inmates. The result is one of the most fascinating music biographies we're ever likely to read.

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