On this excellent release from the World Music Network's ever-reliable Rough Guide series, a host of unknown early blues artists get their due. While Robert Johnson, Son House, and a handful of other greats from the 1920s and '30s have become widely recognized icons of the pre-war blues era, so many lesser-known, though no less talented, players have slipped through the cracks. Opening with Henry Thomas' spirited "Fishing Blues" (complete with a pan flute solo), The Rough Guide to Unsung Heroes of Country Blues winds its way through a series of wonderful and obscure country-blues gems.
The Rough Guide series of compilations is generally excellent, but every once a while a dud does pop out. While not bad, this is far from everything it could be, given the range and history of gospel music. It captures some, but not all, the big names. And so listeners have vintage Five Blind Boys of Alabama with "Stand By Me," a song they later revisited, but no Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. And while the Soul Stirrers are here, it's not a cut from their heyday with Sam Cooke, and where are the Highway Q.C.'s? Gospel's real golden age, in the '50s, is woefully under-represented, and while the Golden Gate Quartet, whose influence was paramount to so many, is mentioned in the notes, there's nothing by them. Mahalia Jackson justifiably gets two tracks, but no Clara Ward, and you have to wonder about the inclusion of the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. The new generation of gospel seems to be lacking, with nothing from the critically acclaimed Sacred Steel school.
The Rough Guide to Irish Folk provides an introduction to the different styles and artists within the genre. Established groups like De Danann and Deata and newer artists perform jigs, reels, and "sean nos, " a traditional form of a cappella singing. Rich in heritage and creativity, this collection should whet the appetite of anyone interested in contemporary Irish folk performers.
This Rough Guide is a psychedelic treat that is full to bursting with far-out Brazilian grooves. Discover cutting-edge explorations by artists like Tom Zé, Laranja Freak and Jupiter Maça, then dig deep into the archive and let loose to the retro vibrations of Quintal De Clorofila and José Mauro. Next, revel in one of the first ever reissues of the track ‘Renata’ from a rare 1970 EP by offbeat psych-garage band, Liverpool. The second (bonus) disc is a reissue of Jupiter Maça - A Sétima Efervescência, originally released in Brazil in 1996 as Antídoto 011292-2.
From the 19th century African music gatherings in Congo Square to the birth of jazz and its offshoots, New Orleans is one of America's most important music cities, and with the Rough Guide to the Music of New Orleans collection, listeners get a well-rounded taste of the Crescent City's musical gumbo. The collection touches on traditional jazz torchbearers (Dr. Michael White), classic R&B (Jessie Hill, Earl King), down-home funk (the Meters), Mardi Gras-ready brass players (Kermit Ruffins, Hot 8 Brass Band), global-influenced groovers (Los Hombres Calientes), and artists on the rise (Papa Grows Funk). While it's impossible to capture the full spectrum of New Orleans music on a single disc – women artists are underrepresented, and the NOLA hip-hop scene that's emerged since the 1990s is skipped entirely – this Rough Guide is a spirited introduction, and as a bonus is accompanied by a second disc featuring emerging heavy funk purveyors Dumpstaphunk.
People are familiar with rai or some of the more traditional music to emerge from North Africa and the Middle East, but lately there's also been an undercurrent of more adventurous music – hip-hop and electronica. The roots still shout loud and proud, but the sounds (often made by artists who've moved to Europe or the U.S.) are as hard and modern as anything, anywhere – for example, the rap of Clotaire K or Mafia Maghrebine, the edgy, skittering rhythms of U-Cef, or the powerful trance of Gnawa Impulse. And this compilation makes the ideal introduction, from the pounding beats of "A Muey A Muey," which was a revelation and breakthrough when it first appeared, to the contemporary remix of Ali Slimani's "S'Habi." The full range of the music gets an airing here, and for anyone with an urge to explore the lesser-known (for now) areas of Maghrebi music, this is the starting point.
A Traveler's Guide to Space and Time is a first box set by German power metal band Blind Guardian. It contains 15 CDs and covers the bands discography during the so-called Virgin years, between 1988 and 2004…