The Long Ryders - The Best Of (2004)

«Solid is the word that springs to mind for this au courant collection from the Long Ryders' mid-'80s heyday. It's a loaded word, often used to camouflage reservations, but here it's a positive testament to consistent craftsmanship and professionalism, of substance over surface flash. Best Of shows how the Long Ryders roped together a diverse array of influences, varied songwriter combinations with distinct touches, and a rotating set of vocalists to keep their guitar-driven rock fresh and varied. The disc leads off with singles, a move that shows the group's songwriting craftsmanship throughout because nearly every song pulls you in with a musical or vocal hook. They may not all plant themselves in your brain as easily as the near AC/DC throb of "Looking for Lewis & Clark" or the power-driving "Gunslinger Man," with its nice harmony guitar lead. But they almost all register, so that every time the songs kick in, those chorus and melody hooks come rolling back within a few seconds. A deft pop touch comes to the fore on "I Want You Bad," and "Ivory Tower" gets haunting harmony treatment when the late Gene Clark blends his voice with Steve McCarthy's lead. The varied vocal harmonies are a strong point throughout, notably on the chorus to "Man of Misery" (which gets in its share of interlocked chiming guitar licks, too), while the lovely "If I Were a Bramble and You Were a Rose" veers acoustic and offers "The essence of living is helping what grows" as an inspirational lyric. Bassist Tom Stevens takes the lead on the hard-hitting "A Stitch in Time," while the live "Capturing the Flag" was produced by a jerk (sez so in the credits). The latter and "State of My Union" offer a strong one-two punch of heartland roots rock-cum-Americana, though you wonder if the Bear Bryant reference in "Union" still resonates outside the time context (for sure, the Chuck Berry licks on this "Promised Land" variant will). "I Had a Dream" kicks forcefully as Greg Sowders' backbeat toughens things up, Stevens' fluid bass avoiding country two-step syndrome, and the guitars get themselves one rowdy-ass edge. So Mel Tillis gets rocked up a bit while the Flamin' Groovies acquire a touch of country twang – and that isn't the worst capsule summary of the Long Ryders' modus operandi you could come up with, or where and how they fit in. "Masters of War" gets turned into a Velvets-tinged dirge via Sid Griffin's vocal venom and McCarthy's searing guitar sparring sonically with Will Glenn's violin – think Bob Dylan filtered through "Venus in Furs" and you're not far off (now if they can just not get persecuted like that high-school band in Boulder). Best Of certainly fulfills all the requirements — a representative sample of highlight songs, strong performances, a personal touch in liner notes from the heartfelt (Sowders) to the often hilarious (Stevens' rules of the Long Ryders road). A good value both for old fans and as an introduction to a band that deserved more but can still put "The Long Ryders wish success and happiness to all bands" on the back cover. Solid, in a word.» (AMG)

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Toots & the Maytals - Famine

Toots & the Maytals - The Collection (2002)

«The Maytals were key figures in reggae music. Comprised of leader Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias, and Raleigh Gordon, all natives of Kingston, the Maytals are said to have been the first group to use the word “reggae” in a song title with their Leslie Kong-produced “Do the Reggay.” Formed in the early '60s when ska was hot, the Maytals had a reputation for having strong, well-blended voices and a seldom rivaled passion for their music. Hibbert's soulful style led him to be compared to Otis Redding.» (AMG, read more)

«Toots Hibbert represents a different side of reggae (a term he is actually credited with) from his labelmate Bob Marley. Where Marley was more like the Motown sound of Jamaica, Hibbert and the Maytals were more like the Atlantic side of things: earthy vocals, funkier and based more in soul and gospel than his brethren. He is certainly no less important in the history of Jamaican music. This set collects the best from his Island years on a marvelous 18 track compendium.» (Amazon)

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Cheb Mami - Meli Meli (1998)

«The traditional music of Algeria is combined with Spanish, Moroccan, French, and Arabic influences to create the dance-inspiring sounds of “the Prince of Rai,” Cheb Mami (born Khelifati Mohamed). Cheb Mami's music was described in a press release from the ARK 21 record label, as “Arabic rock & roll retaining virtues of traditional music but infused with urban urgency.” Reviewing his 1999 album, Meli Meli, CMJ New Music Report wrote, “As perhaps Rai's most popular vocalist, Cheb Mami is one of the leaders of the pack, turning the genre into a futuristic dance/funk hybrid with the power to pack the dancefloors of North Africa, Paris, and New York.”

A native of Saida, a small village in southwest Algeria, Cheb Mami has been attracting attention with his soulful singing since his early teens. In 1971, he placed second in a talent contest organized by Ihan Wa Chabab. Despite recording several successful cassettes in the 1980s, he made little money from their sale. Frustrated by the music industry in his homeland, he soon began to consider alternatives. Although he served a stint in the Algerian military, he relocated to Paris, France, following his discharge in 1975. With the release of his first internationally-distributed album, The Prince of Rai, in 1989, Cheb Mami reached the upper echelon of Rai music. Cheb Mami has continued to take the Rai tradition to new heights.

One of the finest records of the wildly-heralded “Rai” movement, Meli Meli is a true vocal lovers record. Mami's voice is one of the most versatile and powerful in world-pop music today. His three-octave range is truly something to behold, and his use of it on such songs as "H'Rabti" and "Parisien Du Nord" (performed with rap singer K-Mel of Alliance Ethnique ) and others will leave you breathless. Originally released to platinum success in France, Meli Meli is an awesome document that shows why Mami is one of the most respected middle-Eastern artists in existence today.”» (AMG)

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Gilles Peterson in Brazil (2004)

A great party record (two-disc set). Have fun!

«Radio One and Worldwide DJ Gilles Peterson is an authority on world music, and Brazilian music is the most happening global sound of the moment. This album has been compiled using Peterson's vast knowledge of what's been turning up the heat in clubs and on the radio. This is a two-disc edition, one containing Brazilian heritage and traditional music and one hosting cuts from the new generation of artists.» (Amazon)

Full tracklist and more English reviews here

Recensione in italiano qui

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Amadou & Mariam - The Best Of (2005)

«A musical husband-and-wife duo that got its start in Mali, Amadou & Mariam met in 1975 at Mali's Bamako Institute for the Young Blind. Amadou (born Amadou Bagayoko in Bamako in October of 1954) began his musical career in 1968, and by 1974 joined Les Ambassadeurs du Motel, a leading group (which counted Salif Keita as a member) in his home country. He wound up at the aforementioned institute after becoming blind as a teenager through a congenital cataract. His future wife, Mariam Doumbia (born in Bamako on April 15, 1958), was already at the institute (she became blind at the age of five), studying Braille as well as teaching classes in dance and music. Over time, the pair would have a huge influence on the artistic programs at the school, with Amadou directing a group of pupils and Mariam handling lead vocal duties for the school orchestra.
In 1980, the pair married and decided that they would make a good collaborative musical team. Over the next five years, they performed in their home country, and Amadou's solo career and work won him many accolades and awards. In 1985, the group toured out of country for the first time, with shows in Burkina Faso. In 1986, Amadou & Mariam, realizing that Mali and its distinct lack of recording resources would be a major hindrance in their career, opted to move to the neighboring Ivory Coast. There they began to release a series of cassettes (with help from the Nigerian producer Maikano) that would become the foundation of their later successes. By 1991, the pair had released four volumes of their work on cassette, and the buzz was enough that in 1994 they were invited to Paris to perform and record new work there.
Although the resulting sessions were never released, Amadou & Mariam kept on, and in 1998 they released their first CD album, Sou Ni Tile. From 1998 to 2002, a series of releases highlighting their early work (both together and solo) preceded their next album, Wati. In 2003, world music luminary Manu Chao began to work with the couple, and in 2004 Amadou & Mariam emerged from the studio with what was to be their landmark album, Dimanche a Bamako. The success of the album led to tours, awards, and accolades from all over Europe and Africa.
In 2005, they released a live album and DVD, and in 2007 […] performed at Bastille Day celebrations, as well as opening up for the American rock act Scissor Sisters in England. Released in 2008, Welcome to Mali featured guest appearances by K'Naan, Keziah Jones, -M-, Toumani Diabaté, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Juan Rozoff, as well as production help from Damon Albarn.» (AMG)

Official Site (with full French bio): http://www.amadou-mariam.com/

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Home on YouTube

Nous vivons une période cruciale. Les scientifiques nous disent que nous avons 10 ans pour changer nos modes de vie, éviter d'épuiser les ressources naturelles et empêcher une évolution catastrophique du climat de la Terre. Il faut que chacun participe à l'effort collectif et c'est pour sensibiliser le plus grand monde que j'ai conçu le film HOME. Afin de diffuser ce film le plus largement possible, il fallait qu'il soit gratuit. Un mécène, le groupe PPR, a permis qui le soit. EuropaCorp, qui en assure la distribution, s'est engagé à ne faire aucun bénéfice car HOME n'a aucune ambition commerciale. J'aimerais que ce film devienne aussi votre film. Partagez-le. Et agissez.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Film disponible sur YouTube jusqu'au 14 Juin 2009

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.
HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Watch on YouTube until June 14th, 2009

Estamos viviendo un periodo crucial. Los científicos afirman que solo tenemos 10 años para cambiar nuestro modo de vida, evitar que los recursos naturales se agoten e impedir una evolución catastrófica del clima de la Tierra. Nos jugamos nuestro futuro y el de las siguientes generaciones por lo que cada uno de nosotros debe participar en este esfuerzo colectivo. HOME ha sido creada para hacer llegar este mensaje de movilización a todos los habitantes de nuestro planeta. Es por esta razón que la película HOME es gratuita, gracias al mecenazgo del grupo PPR y la distribuidora Europacorp, que ofrecieron su apoyo de forma desinteresada. HOME se ha creado para ti. Corre la voz y colabora con el planeta.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Ver en YouTube hasta el 14 de junio de 2009

Wir leben in einer alles-entscheidenden Zeit. Wissenschaftler sagen uns, wir hätten nur 10 Jahre um unsere Lebensweise zu ändern, um das Aufzehren von Rohstoffen zu verhindern und um eine katastrophale Entwicklung des Weltklimas zu verhindern. Jeder Einzelne muss an dieser gemeinsamen Anstrengung teilnehmen ; und um so viele Leute wie möglich darauf aufmerksam zu machen, habe ich den Film HOME gedreht. Damit der Film die größt-mögliche Verbreitung erhält, muss er um sonst sein ; unser Sponsor, die PPR Gruppe hat dies ermöglicht. EuropaCorp, der den Vertrieb sicherstellt, hat sich bereiterklärt, keinen Gewinn aus HOME erwirtschaften zu wollen, weil der Film nicht auf wirtschaftlichen Erfolg angelegt ist. Ich hätte gerne, dass HOME auch Ihr Film wird. Verteilen Sie ihn weiter. Und handeln Sie.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Auf YouTube bis zum 14 Juni anschauen


Ana Popovic - Comfort to the Soul (2003)

«The international appeal of the blues comes home with a fiery flourish on the breakout album by youthful Serbian singer/guitarist Ana Popovic. Her 2001 debut disc Hush! effectively displayed her potential and Comfort to the Soul demonstrates she’s well on the road to realizing much of it. Popovic, who relocated to the Netherlands in 1999, is much more than just the best Belgrade-born blues act. Although it’s her rockish energy, expressed on tunes like the opening Melissa Etheridge-style “Don’t Bear Down on Me”, that will garner the majority of the attention, the most impressive aspect of her music is its diversity. She exhibits some Elmore James-inspired slide guitar on a couple of tracks (most notably on an innovative up-tempo take on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sittin’ On Top of the World”), shoots off more than a few hard-edged rocking blues solos elsewhere, and utilizes her affinity for jazz guitar in several creative contexts. Popovic’s music, like her blues persona, is obviously still a work in progress but her second album provides as much pleasure in the present as it does promise for the future.» (Michael Point, Amazon)

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