Tuesday, 17 May 2011


An Amazon 5-star review.

Not the longest of these 3-CD Beginners sets at just under 3 hours, but it's certainly one of the best I've bought. There's the usual guff about African roots of the Blues but over the last 50 years or so there's been so much cross-fertilisation of musical genres that with contemporary artists it's chicken or the egg situation especially when the first track of the third CD is a duet by a British and a Gambian artist reworking Hoochie Coochie Man as Fulani Coochie Man.

The first CD features Senegalese and Malian musicians and are mostly likely to be the artists you've heard of -Ali Farka Toure, Rokia Traore, Boubacar Traore, and Toumani Diabate- and it's as good and varied as you'd expect.
Rokia Traore

But it's the second CD which is, and to my great surprise, my favourite as it features North African, Ethiopian, and Toureg musicians and I've never really got into Tinariwen (who aren't featured). Instead there's a wide range of styles which come over often as soundscapes. But there is also some amazingly powerful emotional music here, particularly Ethiopian Tlahoun Gessesse's horn-driven Sema. Also Dub Colossus with Shegye Shegitu. The last track on the disc is by Libya'sTouareg De Fewet and again it's great -I just hope they are okay, given the current situation. This is all really quite revelatory music. It doesn't exactly sound like the Blues but it sure does feel like it.

 Dub Colossus (Ethopia/UK)

As Phil Meadley in his concise notes remarks, CD3 is most Blue-Blues sounding of the set in terms of structure, though that structure is played around with quite a lot too. So it's the most accessible and immediately enjoyable of the three. But it's the other two discs, particularly the second, which repay focused attention and contain the most rewards.

This is a terrific compilation and highly recommended to anyone who'd like their musical taste buds refreshing, not just fans of Blues or African music.

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