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Various Artists

Think Global: Fiesta Latina

(Amnesty International; US: 22 Apr 2008; UK: 5 May 2008)

Most of World Music Network’s compilations set out to enlighten as well as entertain but Think Global: Fiesta Latina is primarily about entertainment. Enlightenment has taken a back seat. This is a party album. Almost all of the songs have the cheap jellybean vivacity of merengue, even the ones that are actually bachata or salsa or Colombian hybrids. The singer leaps out at you, the trumpets blare, it’s as subtle as Lego. See those glaring primary colours in the cover photograph? That’s what it sounds like. It comes as a surprise when they decide to end with Frankely’s moody “Si No Saliera La Luna” when the whole tone of the album to that point has been lifting towards a big, flourishing finale. You can’t say that this partnership of World Music Network and Amnesty International is aiming at the lowest common denominator, exactly, because any foreign-language album targeted at English-speaking listeners risks alienating its potential audience, but with Fiesta Latina they can’t quite boast that they’re aiming for the highest common denominator either.

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