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CD Review: Sidestepper

The Buena Vibra Sound System

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The Deal: Call it a rootsy remix of Colombian electronica – a world-beat cross between Fela Kuti from Nigeria and Jamaica's Sly & Robbie meeting Sergio Mendes of Brasil 66.

The Good: If you've never heard of Sidestepper or Richard Blair this is as good a time as any. He calls his music Colombian Afrobeat and it began when Blair visited traditional singer Toto La Momposina in Colombia and never left. While there, the DJ/musician picked up engineering gigs and then put together a live band mixing together musicians from both coast and interior, thereby creating a new, original Colombian sound.

The Bad: Though fine and dandy, the Sidestepper originals are better. How badly do we need a club version of the already excellent "Mas Papaya" or "Deja"? How much can you improve classics?

The Verdict: A nicely done recording, more suitable for Sidestepper completists and those addicted to DJ remixes. For everyone else, find the highly recommend originals 3am (In Beats We Trust) (2003) and More Grip (2000). Sidestepper performs live and/with DJs, often combining salseros with hip-hop. Though this recording attempts to recreate their club sound, better see them live, with their large, live band. It's different, joyful and of course highly danceable.

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