The Rough Guide To World Music: Africa & Middle East (World Music Network RGNET1181CD, 2007)
Released to coincide with the recent book of the same name (The Rough Guide to World Music: Africa and Middle East), this Rough Guide does what so many of its successful predecessors have done: It presents as potent a musical overview as possible in the space of a single CD.
It’s a great mix of artists and songs, of the familiar and rather less familiar. Many of the tracks are quite recent, and the ones that aren’t had me nodding with pleasure and thinking "yeah, haven’t heard that one in a while."
Easy though it would be to label this a beginner’s guide as much as a Rough Guide, experienced African and Middle Eastern music listeners might well find that many of the apparent favorites of compiler John Armstrong (a respected DJ and columnist in his native U.K.) are their own as well.
So if you find yourself in frequent need of music from these regions, this crackling selection will be one to frequently drop into the slot.
There’s highlight after highlight, including the modern Ethiopian soul of Gigi, Amr Diab’s tart Egyptian pop, classic style rumba by Kékélé, a tight Afrobeat/hip-hop fusion from Tony Allen and Tweak, emergent Saharan blues courtesy of Etran Finatawa and the lateOfra Haza’s Yemenite splendor.