Created as a benefit project for Artists' Project Earth, an organization devoted to protecting the environment, reversing climate change, and tendering disaster relief, this compilation pairs Western pop stars (U2, Sting, Artic Monkeys, et al) and their hits with all-new arrangements performed by members of Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club plus other Havana-based talent. The overall effect is of a well-meaning but not entirely simpatico mutual admiration society. Coldplay's "Clocks" is a good example; the lead vocal is coolly lethargic, engulfing the spiky crags of the rhythm section like syrup on a waffle. But then, most of the singers sound strangely unconnected to the frisky 1-2-3/1-2 of the clavé beat. The contrast between the two groups of players could have been bracing, and to many ears it perhaps will be, but most of the time, they seem to transmitting from parallel universes. Not surprisingly, the best tracks are those in which hometown icons are left to do what they do best. But the late, great Ibrahim Ferrer's marvelous interpretation of "As Time Goes By" (his final recording) and Omara Portuondo's wistful yet powerful cover of "Killing Me Softly" only serve to further showcase what's amiss with the rest of the album. --Christina Roden
Rhythms Del Mundo is an electrifying album that fuses music of different cultures and comes up with a melting pot of rare sounds. While the majority of the original artists' vocals remain the same, The Buena Vista Social Club musicians took the original orchestration from each song and created something utterly unique, casting their trademark mastery over each track. Their noted and exceptional musicianship seduced even the notoriously protective Arctic Monkeys into handing over their track. As well as The Arctic Monkeys' track `Dancing Shoes', Rhythms Del Mundo included reworked tracks such as `Clocks' by Coldplay, `Better Together' by Jack Johnson, `She Will be Loved' by Maroon 5, `High and Dry by Radiohead' and others. The album is in aid of Artists Project Earth (APE), which lends support for natural disaster relief and climate change awareness.