The Planet’s Best World Music Label Celebrates 25 Years

Various Artists Real World 25
Various Artists
Real World 25

Various Artists

Real World 25 (Real World Records, 2014)

Trailblazing world music label Real World Records is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of this commemoration, Real World Records has put together a fabulous compilation with a selection of tracks from its impressive catalog.

Musician, composer and famed vocalist Peter Gabriel created Real World as channel to expose some of the finest contemporary global music acts, musicians who perform new music rooted in tradition. Twenty-five years later, Real World Records has developed an impressive catalog of over 200 releases that constitute some of the finest world music recordings in the past decades.

What makes Real World Records stand out is its attention to detail and high quality productions. First of all, the label’s musical choices are admirable. Real World has consistently identified top talent throughout the world and has revealed it to the rest of the world. In addition to the first rate quality of the artists, Real World consistently delivers state of the art recordings that are a pleasure to listen to. But there is more, Real World understands that design and layout is another art component in the process. Besides the splendid music and recordings, the artwork and presentation is consistently top-notch.

With so many artists from so many countries, you have a lot to choose from. Even though we consider all of Real World Records’ catalog contemporary world music, stylistically the non-traditional components range from rock and pop to cutting edge electronica or cross-cultural hybridization.

If you are seeking to learn more about world music in general or Real World Records in particular, get this 3-CD boxed set. It contains artists and songs that have become world music ‘classics’. Some of Real World Records’ artists have achieved tremendous success. These world music stars include the outstanding Afro Celt Sound System, who have sold more than a million albums and is among the most successful world music artists up to now. Other highly popular acts include The Blind Boys of Alabama, Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada, Ugandan star Geoffrey Oryema, the great British South Asian singer Sheila Chandra, and East London minimalists Portico Quartet.



Following its own tradition, Real World 25 is presented in a wonderfully-packaged clamshell box containing three CD sleeves, and a 28-page booklet. The booklet contains fascinating details about the label’s 25-year history, a collection of Real World Tales with recollections and contributions from artists, producers, designers, managers and others, and a few examples of the top quality photography used by Real World.

The 48 tracks follow the history of Real World. CD1 collects breakthrough songs that have been substantial highlights or ‘classic’ points in the label’s history; CD2 explores the extensive Real World catalog, presenting some submerged treasures that deserve more attention; CD3 is the listeners’ choice containing tracks chosen by fans, who were asked by Real World to pick their favorite Real World Records track.

We’ve always been vibrant, alive, and kicking,” says visionary Real World records’ founder Peter Gabriel. “We worked hard to create an environment where the artists felt respected and supported, so that they were able to deliver extraordinary performances.”

In order to carry out his vision, Gabriel and his colleagues renovated an old mill building and turned it into a state-of-the-art recording studio, on the edge of a pond, with landscaped gardens bounded by a river. The first releases were the Grammy-winning Passion (Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese film `The Last Temptation of Christ”), Passion Sources, and albums by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Congolese bandleader Tabu Ley Rochereau, and Cuba’s prominent son and changui ensemble Orquesta Revé.

We just knew we wanted to work with music that has real passion, atmosphere, and grooves,” adds Gabriel. “Music that would touch those open enough to listen.”

Normally, I list an album’s highlights in my reviews, but in this case it’s hard to choose as this is truly an outstanding compilation and practically every artist selected deserves complete attention. The list is mind blowing: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Maryam Mursal, Joi, Little Axe, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Peter Gabriel, Ayub Ogada, Jocelyn Pook, Hukwe Zawose, Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila, Adrian Sherwood, Dub Colossus, Totó La Momposina y sus Tambores, The Imagined Village, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Lama Gyurme And Jean-Philippe Rykiel, Pape & Cheikh, Daúde, Los De Abajo, Toumast, Farafina, Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook, Joji Hirota, Mara! With Martenitsa Choir, Tom Kerstens’ G Plus Ensemble, Mamer, Värttinä, Tenores Di Bitti, Thomas Mapfumo, The Ananda Shankar Experience And State Of Bengal, Syriana, Guo Yue, The Creole Choir of Cuba, Joseph Arthur, Daby Touré, Sevara Nazarkhan, Afro Celt Sound System, Portico Quartet, Yungchen Lhamo, Spiro, Martyn Bennett, JuJu, Charlie Winston, Big Blue Ball, Geoffrey Oryema, Sheila Chandra, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook, and Papa Wemba.



Real World Records continues to seek significant talent. Some of its most recent signings include Welsh language act 9Bach and Honduran Garifuna singer-songwriter and activist Aurelio Martinez.

Real World 25 captures some of the most iconic world music artists of the past three decades, demonstrating that Real World Records is undoubtedly the best world music label out there.








Purchase this great collection: Real World 25 in North America

Purchase the Real World 25 box in Europe

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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