TITLE: The Rough Guide To The Music Of Ethiopia
LABEL: World Music Network
Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series (27 volumes and counting) is without a doubt the gold standard of Ethiopian music reissues. What can the Rough Guide folks add to justify a release like this one? Plenty, as it turns out. The emphasis here is on more recent recordings, very much in the spirit of the now-classics from the late 60’s through 1975, but each with a modern or outside touch. For example, tracks 2 and 11 are two very diiferent urbanized takes (the former from London, the latter from Addis Ababa) on the same traditional Gurage melody, 4 puts an Ethio-jazz great in front of a punk band with brilliant results, and 12 is a unique take on the azmari tradition. Yes, there are a few easy-to-find Ethiopiques re-reissues (10 is a funky favorite by Alemayehu Eshete, the Ethiopian James Brown) that help put the newer material in context. On the other hand, there are four very worthwhile tracks from hard-to-get Terp Records in the Netherlands, who are putting out what I think is the best modern Ethiopian music today. All in all, it’s a very worthwhile project.
TOP TRACKS: 2 4 10 11 12
ALSO RECOMMENDED: 1 3 6 7