The Essential Guide to Africa [Box set] World | 3CD, Scans | 460 MB | MP3 Insane, 320 kbps | 5% Recovery | 2005 African music is a huge field to condense into three CDs, and no compilation the size of The Essential Guide to Africa could claim to boil down the continent's sounds to their essence. Keeping expectations at a realistic level, however, this is a decent, sizable survey that draws from numerous regions and styles -- too many, in fact, to detail in a paragraph or two -- mixing the work of major performers who are relatively well-known globally with less familiar names. Those major performers include Salif Keita, Youssou N'Dour, Aster Aweke, Fela Kuti, Mahlathini & the Mahotella Queens, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba (the version of her famous "Click Song" here is a 2003 remake, incidentally), and Baaba Maal, and if many other big names are missing from King Sunny Ade on down, it'd be unrealistic to demand inclusion of all of them. The CDs are divided into thematic discs, the "African Legends" one boasting the highest concentration of famous artists; "Acoustic Africa" getting into more acoustic and traditional sounds; and "Free Spirits" acting as a kind of catch-all for music that's not as easily categorized. Though the highly danceable (if somewhat monotonous to Western pop-attuned ears) contemporary African music heard on much of the "African Legends" disc is what's gotten the greatest exposure on a worldwide level, the less predictable sounds on the other discs are more satisfying. These detour into recordings that show the influence of (or at least similarities to) blues, pop, jazz, zydeco, and rumba, also taking in a wide variety of traditional instrumentation and, on selections like Fuji Dub's "Fuji Dr. Ewon," extensive percussion-and-voice workouts. A few cuts, like Ismael Lô's "Fa Diallo" and Simentera's "Oxi Nao," verge on being songs with a Western pop-like structure, though they're not typical of this collection. There's also les Troubadours Du Roi Baufoin's haunting, echoed choral vocal-and-percussion "Missa Luba: Kyrie," which might actually be the most widely heard track here, as it was used in the classic British film If. Like many a compilation from the Union Square group, this anthology's not so hot when it comes to exact dates of recording and release for all of the tracks, though generally speaking it's mostly from the 1980s through the early 2000s. ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
Track Listing CD1
. Sina (Soumbouya) - Keita, Salif . Nanette Ada - N'Dour, Youssou . Selale (Name Of A City) - Aweke, Aster . Alu Jon Jonki Jon - Kuti, Fela & Africa 70 . Sweet Mother - Mbarga, Prince Nico & Rocafil Jazz International . Kizunga Zunga - Papa Noel . Ziwere (Rolling Down) - Mtukudzi, Oliver . Gazette - Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens
Track Listing CD2
. Kyrie - Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin . Mandiani - Cissoko . Ya Fatoumata - Diogal . Oxi Nao - Simentera & Tour Kunda . Kwala Rumba - Mose 'Fan Fan' . San Barana - Kouyate, Kandia . Nhongolo - Zawose, Hukwe & The Master Musicians Of Tanzania . Segou Tutu/Tutu Jaara - Jobarteh, Malamini & Dembo Konte . Fa Diallo - Lo, Ismael . Musee - Sidibe, Sali . Kwa Muneri (Name Of A Place) - Mukwesha, Virginia . Abanthu Bayahlupheka - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Track Listing CD3
. Maladalite - Akendengue, Pierre . Amassakoul 'N' Tenere - Tinariwen . Bessoka - Dibango, Manu . Click Song - Makeba, Miriam . Atewo Lara Ka Tepa Mo'se - Adewale, Segun . Belissimo - Bel, M'Bilia . Henriquet - Olomide, Koffi . Escrobondo - Mangwana, Sam & Dino Vangu . Matutu Mirika - Agyeman, Eric . Wango Arti - Maal, Baaba . Fuji Dr. Ewon - Fuji Dub . Nizalwa Ngobani - Mazwai, Thandiswa
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