rough guide

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Various: The Rough Guide to Latin-Arabia (Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to Latin-Arabia (Elite)

To be honest, I never knew of this musical style which is a meltdown of belly dance, salsa and flamenco. But apparently . . . According to the liner notes on this exotic and upbeat collection the link between Arabic and Latin music didn't begin with pop chanteuse Shakira's big hit Ojos Asi but started back in the 9th century on the Iberian...

Various: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Gold (Rough Guide/Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Gold (Rough Guide/Elite)

More scholarly heads than mine would able to discuss whether this 15-track collection is a fair reflection of the Bollywood scene: but it certainly contains the big names like Asha Bhosle (two tracks) and Lata Mangeshkar (two also) who have probably recorded over 50,000 songs between them, Mukesh ("The Man With The Golden Voice") and...

Various: The Rough Guide to Africa Blues (Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to Africa Blues (Elite)

Many decades ago now Paul Oliver wrote his then-definitive and still useful The Story of the Blues (Penguin, 1969). My recollection was that at the time there was also a tie-in double album which he compiled, and which I taped from a friend's copy. The startling opening track -- startling to me anyway -- was by the Fra Fra tribesmen from...

Various: The Rough Guide to North African Cafe (Rough Guide/Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to North African Cafe (Rough Guide/Elite)

About two decades ago in a parody of Jon Landau's famous comment about Bruce Springsteen I wrote a world music column which started, "I have seen rock and roll's future, and it is North African". By way of supporting evidence I noted rock people's love of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and other such things, and firmly believed then -- as...

Various: The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam (Rough Guide/Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam (Rough Guide/Elite)

Frankly my two periods travelling around Vietnam didn't involve much searching out of music -- although by my desk I keep a photo of a poor woman singer leading her blind guitar-playing brother through a market in the village of Hoi An. She sang songs of such ineffable sadness that tears flowed from her eyes and the market came to halt to...

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

The death in March 2006 of the great Mali musician Ali Farka Toure -- who reached a global audience in the mid 90s with the Talking Timbuktu album recorded with Ry Cooder -- lead to many tributes but also the question, who could possibly take his place? Well, his son Vieux Farka Toure's album -- which appeared in the Best of Elsewhere 2007...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Toumani Diabate: The Mande Variations (World Circuit/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Toumani Diabate: The Mande Variations (World Circuit/Elite)

Here's one of the best world music albums of the year: a rare solo outing by the Malian kora master Toumani Diabate who learned from the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure also from his homeland (there is a track here dedicated to Farka Toure with whom he performed on the wonderful In the Heart of the Moon album). Like his mentor, Diabate has...

Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble: Ana Hina (World Village)

Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble: Ana Hina (World Village)

The great Natacha Atlas first came to my attention two decades ago when I was in England and she was guesting on albums by TransGlobal Underground, a multicultural London-based outfit that brought together trip-hop, techno, Middle Eastern and Indian sounds. Anything with Atlas employing her remarkable voice was an absolute winner and I...

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

This is not the first Rough Guide to Moroccan music but, given how diverse the sounds are coming from that place, another edition is certainly necessary. And when you hear the stuttering trip-hop of the dub-influenced El Aloua here (by Amiri Saqati, a side project of an earlier electronica outfit Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects) you know...

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Disco (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Disco (Rough Guide/Southbound)

There is no sane or relevant reason for posting anything about this oddball digital-only compilation other than that it is silly fun, has some terrific (if borrowed) disco-dance groove which come with thick lacquer of Bollywood madness, that it sometimes sounds like absurd Bond soundtracks and . . . Jeeez, isn't that enough? As with the...

Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Smart people don't believe the hype . . . or album titles which overpromise. But surprisingly this one -- which attempts both -- actually delivers quite a number of lower-totem pole African names, but very few are in the also-ran category. These musicians were part of a World Music Network Battle of the Bands (Gee, do they still have those...

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Arabic Cafe (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Arabic Cafe (Rough Guide/Southbound)

This catch-all compilation is thoroughly enjoyable if a little MOR but, especially for anyone who has traveled in the broad region covered, these pieces with their dramatic strings, pattering percussion, horns and soaring vocals will evoke exotically shabby backstreets and rowdy markets, and days and nights when distant music rolled across...

Dan Bao Vietnam: Rider in the Sky (date unknown, Nineties?)

Dan Bao Vietnam: Rider in the Sky (date unknown, Nineties?)

The albums in the Rough Guide series can offer world music as a kind of portal into a very different culture and consciousness. And even when world music artists take on tunes which we might recognize -- perhaps even especially when this happens -- it can be like being beamed into an alternate reality. This piece -- a live treatment of...

Various: Planet Rock (Rough Guide/Elite)

Various: Planet Rock (Rough Guide/Elite)

World Music compilations are often pretty dodgy affairs and this one is no exception. So I'm not really suggesting you might want an album that starts in a place where Cambodia psychedelic rock meets America, then heads off to Algeria, the Sahara and Niger (the great Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa respectively however, see tags), the States for...

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