View Full Version : World music compilations
08-24-2006, 07:39 AM
The one teeny downside of my new job is that the commute is a tad over an hour each way -- after four and a half months, I need some new tunes. I desperately need some new tunes.
I like world music, and I like compilation albums -- they're often a good overview of artists I wouldn't otherwise encounter. Some of the Putumayo albums are pretty good (Mali to Memphis, Afro-Latino), though others .... aren't. One of my favorite compilations ever is this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006L708/sr=8-2/qid=1156422685/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-4717680-2165450?ie=UTF8) two-disk set of Sahara-style blues -- I personally liked this one better than the first, probably because it has two tunes by Momo Wandel Soumah, who's turned into one of my all-time favorite artists.
I mostly like African and New-World-African-influenced music (most familiar with Brazilian and Cuban, for obvious reasons, though I also love the Haitian group Boukman Experyans), though I'm open to other stuff if it's groovy enough.
08-24-2006, 07:50 AM
I agree about Putumayo being hit-or-miss. Definitely get their Coffee Lands CD, however (NOT "Coffee Lands II").
The Smithsonian has put out a few compilations from their archives. The National Grographic "Destinations" series is also good -- details at www.sugomusic.com. There is also a label called "Music of the World", in North Carolina, which puts out a series called "Musica de la Tierra" -- I have Volume II, and I like maybe 80% of it. And, you can't go wrong with Beleza Tropical, those CD's that David Byrne put out two decades ago. Finally, you might like the companion CD (also available separately from the book) which accompanies ethnomusicaologist Gerhard Kubik's book "Africa and the Blues" (University Press of Mississippi, 1999).
08-24-2006, 08:27 AM
Have both the Coffee Lands (and agree on their relative merits); have the first Beleza Tropical but not the second. (For those looking for a nice Brazilian music intro, I can also recommend Nova Bossa (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000477T/ref=pd_bxgy_img_b/002-9049490-9587240?ie=UTF8), of the "Red Hot +" series.)
But I'll definitely check out the others recommendations -- merci!
well he's back
08-24-2006, 08:41 AM
The people who do the Rough Guide travel books also put out world music CD compilations that I think you'd enjoy. see here - www.roughguides.com/music/
Also there is a magazine about World Music, called The Beat I think. They have put out some compilations.
I have found some wonderful music through Putumayo, and very few duds.
08-24-2006, 08:39 PM
Just ordered "Musica de la Tierra," which looks good.
I'm getting all kinds of error messages at the Rough Guide site -- dunno if it's my browser or what, because the page comes up, but with the error message where you'd expect to see the product info. Weird.
Which specific Putumayo albums would you recommend, well he's back?
well he's back
08-25-2006, 08:51 AM
Hey Twickster - I just tried the Rough Guides site & didn't have any problems...
anyway the Putumayo album I like best is a compiliation of female Celtic vocalists, but I've liked their Italian and Reggae collections too. Sorry I'm not able to be more specific. I tried a lot through interlibrary loan before buying.
08-25-2006, 08:53 AM
I came in here specifically to recommend Putumayo's discs and Desert Blues II. The Rough Guide series can be really good, so keep trying. They tend to be more 'field' recording in style, not so highly produced as Putumayo's stuff, and there's literally dozens of CDs, I think they're up over 100 by now. The Six Degrees label has some good discs too, you should check out the Asian Travels and Arabian Travels series.
08-25-2006, 08:59 AM
This is what I get when I go to their "Mali" page.
ADODB.Recordset error '800a0e78'
Operation is not allowed when the object is closed.
/music/inc/MusicRecProduct.inc, line 118
I am a total cyberboob, so I don't understand what this means.
well he's back
08-25-2006, 09:14 AM
Yikes - Now I had the same trouble with the Rough Guides site. Hopefully it's a temporary thing. Oh well - you can always look them up through Amazon:
08-26-2006, 08:24 AM
Oh, right, you don't have to go to the site itself.
Went to half.com and ordered three Rough Guide CDs -- Africa, Sahara, and "Off the Beaten Track."
Excellent suggestion -- thanks!
08-26-2006, 10:37 AM
Ellipsis Arts put out a couple of real nice African compilations including "Never Stand Still". They are really worth a listen if you can find them.
08-26-2006, 11:06 AM
R. Crumb Presents Hot Women (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3036914048/sr=1-1/qid=1156608227/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-9401835-7139150?ie=UTF8&s=music)
08-26-2006, 11:46 AM
Peter Gabriel first put together the World of Music, Arts, and Dance (WOMAD) (http://womad.org/) festival and compilation in the early 1980s, which is what kicked off the whole "world music" phenomenon to begin with. As a result of WOMAD he founded Real World Records, which has been one great source for good music among many. We have Peter Gabriel to thank for introducing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the West.
What Gabriel picked up on was, there was an increasing trend in the 1980s for pop musicians in various countries to include more traditional, classical, or folkloric music, to lend their music greater substance. The truly excellent Ofra Haza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ofra_Haza) z"l made this adaptation than anyone. Meanwhile, traditional musicians in various countries had been going more pop for years. When the two met in the middle, and this hybrid was run through modern marketing techniques, a new genre was born. Now there are artists whose compositions are entirely drawn from this type of fusion, like Vas, Stellamara, Lumin, Sheila Chandra.
Prior to that, I'd been rummaging through records in public library collections looking for Folkways disks from other countries and the Nonesuch Explorer Series.
08-26-2006, 12:20 PM
I meant to say the truly excellent Ofra Haza did this better than anyone.
08-26-2006, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the background, Johanna -- what I'm looking here are specific recommendations of specific albums. What do you like?
08-26-2006, 12:53 PM
BTW, I've found Gemm (http://www.gemm.com/c/?ss=MUSIC) to be a good place to find some fairly obscure stuff.
08-26-2006, 12:54 PM
I was in Ten Thousand Villages the other day and asked the clerk what that great music they were playing was. It turned out to be Putumayo's Jamaica and neither one of us could find it on the rack so she sold me the copy right out of her CD player for $5. It was a great buy, well worth it.
Another suggestion - and I know you didn't ask for this - is satellite radio. My brother and I both have commutes (mine 25mins one-way and his 1hr20mins one way) and we agree that we'd be miserable without Sirius. It has 100 channels of music without commercials (seems to be mostly pop & rock to me, but check their website to see if they have any world channels) and all the talk radio you can shake a stick at. Discovery Radio, Radio Classics, 2 channels of NPR, all the news stations; family, raunchy, and middle-of-the-road comedy, and of course Howard Stern.
08-26-2006, 01:02 PM
Thanks, Cisco. My knee-jerk reaction was "I'm not really a radio person," but that's because I can't find a station that plays the stuff I like -- I guess the point of satellite radio is that everyone should be able to find a station that plays the stuff they like, eh? I'll think about that.
08-26-2006, 10:53 PM
Hurricane Zouk. Too lazy to post the Amazon link.
09-01-2006, 12:29 AM
Thanks for the background, Johanna -- what I'm looking here are specific recommendations of specific albums. What do you like?My favorite from Putumayo is Women of Spirit, my other favorites are Gifted: Women of the World and Global Women: Ethnic Songs From 14 Countries. But that's just me. I'm also very fond of Putumayo's Music from the Tea Lands. They have a Chocolate Lands and two Coffee Lands compilations too.
For starters I recommend Peter Gabriel's two compilations from the 80s that started "world music" as a genre: WOMAD and Passion. These two would make a good foundation for any world music collection, because once you find something you like, you can start picking up more in this direction. I love the Narada Sampler I picked up at a used book sale, but it was just a one-time promotional release. If Narada (http://www.narada.com/) is making any new samplers, they're a great label to find good music at. Their current catalog of compilations is enough to make any world music fan salivate... http://www.narada.com/newreleases_pagecollections.htm - How about Best of Narada World? A 2-CD set... that'll sweeten your drive time.
Another favorite compilation of mine, stretching the definition of "world music," is Caravan: The Ultimate Silk Road Collection, which is all European classical orchestral compositions inspired by Central Asia... Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Ippolitov-Ivanov... while the tsar's armies were busy invading and colonizing the region, the composers back at the St. Petersburg Conservatory reflected this in their new pieces which were topical at the time but many of which have now become classics. The equivalent today would be Americans composing imitation Arab music now that we're embroiled in Iraq. Democracy Now (the war and peace report) on Pacifica Radio is always playing Arab music in between the news stories.
But for real Central Asian music, there's an interesting if uneven compilation with some amazing stuff I would strongly recommend: The Rough Guide to the Music of Central Asia.
What do people think of the Rough Guide compilations?
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