In Search of Manu Chao
A definitive biography of Manu Chao, the Che Guevara of world music.
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.Clandestinohas 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.
About the Author
Peter Culshaw was described by his friend Malcolm McLaren as'the Indiana Jones of world music'. His assignments have included hanging out with Central African pygmies and reports from the Amazon and Siberia. He has profiled many leading classical, world and jazz musicians for theObserverandTelegraph, as well as BBC radio. As a musician, he was signed in the 1980s to Brian Eno's label and later recorded with the Buena Vista Social Club. He is currently music editor for theartsdesk.com.
'Manu Chao? He was a pain in the arse when he was four. And he still is!', Gabriel Garcia Marquez
'To distil the nature of Chao's elusive genius requires a bold author and a special kind of book - and Peter Culshaw has risen to the task...a compelling story, brilliantly told... By the journey's end, one is left with the satisfying conclusion that the fabulous experiences and curious explorations along the way have been more important than any imagined or real destination - for author, subject and reader alike.', Nigel Williamson, Songlines
'Manu Chao is a nomadic non-conformist, bard of the dispossessed and pied piper of the poor ... An engaging new biography ... Culshaw does a fine job keeping track of the musician's helter-skelter movements ... he's also strong when analysing Chao's winning musical formula.', Alastair Smart, Daily Telegraph
'It's bloody brilliant. Really. The whole structure works really well, the storytelling is really vivid. I loved the digressions and learned plenty.', Caspar Llewellyn Smith, Music Editor, Guardian
'A carnival of photojournalism and trans-continental reportage ... Culshaw is a disciplined and talented biographer ... a fine story.', Richard Elins, The List
'Any story which features a band playing shows on trains around Colombia or on cargo ships sailing up and down South America is always going to be colourful ...Clandestinois a great read ... As tales of unlikely global stars go, this is well worth your time.', Jim Carroll, Irish Times
'Excellent ...Clandestinois part travelogue, part-history, and a thumpingly good book.', Vanessa Baird, New Internationalist
'Thoroughly researched ... has plenty to say to the committed fan', Clive Bell, The Wire
'One of the many fine qualities of Culshaw's book - part biography, part personal chronicle of his time with Chao - is that he doesn't attempt to tidy the music or push the man into pigeonholes. His is a well-paced, balanced and warm account of the extraordinary life of an extraordinary artist ...Clandestinowill make you dig out the albums and listen to them again with a richer understanding of the music.', Nicola Rayner, Record Collector
'Chao's led - and still leads - an extraordinary life ... A fascinating story and Culshaw tells it well', Andrzej Lukowski, Metro
'The definitive biography of Latin music star and activist Manu Chao - an epic, at times perilous journey that took him from the wilds of Mexico to Buenos Aires to a refugee camp in the Sahara.', Richard Smirke, Big Issue
'Prepare for controversy: a lot of music books are boring - really, really, stark bollock boring. This one isn't: Eschewing discographies, chart-fact drivel and technical jargon Culshaw embarks on a world tour with one of its most interesting musicians and - next to Gabriel Garcia Marquez -combining travel writing and biography in a way that's more hot coffee enema than the usual pissing in a tepid bath.', Dazed Digital