Macaco's Dani Carbonell won't be the first or the last artist who, as soon as he achieved massive popularity, promptly release a greatest-hits package while still riding on the crest of the wave. The double-CD El Vecindario, one year after Puerto Presente took Macaco to the top of the Spanish charts, does exactly that, albeit with a slight twist. Instead of a compilation of Macaco's key songs in their original version, Carbonell chooses to invite all of his international friends to his party, resulting in a package that is a hybrid between a greatest hits and a duet album. By and large, the instrumental tracks do not appear to have been greatly altered, only the vocals have been re-recorded to accommodate the guest vocalists. However, since the very collage-like structure of Macaco's songs is ready made for the pasting of different vocals, the final result seldom feels significantly different from the original version, even if El Vecindario's guests are often big names with distinct artistic personalities. Reflecting Macaco's multicultural philosophy, these come from all regions of Spain, as well as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, the U.S., and Senegal: La Mari, Fito Cabrales, Estopa, Muchachito Bombo Inferno, Bebe, Rosario Flores, La Shica, and Natalia Lafourcade, among many others. To round things up, El Vecindario adds two new songs (although these had previously appeared in compilations), and a cover of Toots & the Maytals "Monkey Man." It is, of course, an eminently enjoyable affair, but not without a few caveats. First of all, the total of 20 tracks and 80 minutes could have presumably fit onto a single CD, thus lowering the price. Secondly, 13 songs come from Macaco's last two albums, Puerto Presente and Ingravitto. Putting the three new tracks aside, that leaves only four songs covering the first three Macaco records. In other words, even if it is a double CD, El Vecindario cannot be taken as a comprehensive overview of Macaco's 15-year career. In fact, since almost half this compilation comes from Puerto Presente, often feels like one is listening to a remixed version of that album, rather than to a greatest hits. This does not in any way diminish El Vecindario's listening pleasure, as Puerto Presente and Ingravitto were great albums, but for those who already own them, El Vecindario is a pretty unnecessary purchase. For those unfamiliar with the band, this is a great introduction to their peace loving, all-encompassing embrace of rumba, hip-hop, reggae, pop, and world music; but then again, so are their last two studio albums. El Vecindario also comes in a special edition with a DVD featuring five video clips, as well as interviews with the guest artists involved in this compilation.
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