The Rough Guide

Dateline: February 18, 2000

The compilation series discussed here includes music from Africa, Ireland, and the Caribbean.

World Music compilations are an easy and often inexpensive way to become aquainted with music from a particular country or culture. Putumayo is a label known for releases collections that are accessible and not hard on the pocketbook either.

Rough Guides is another set of compilations that aim to introduce the listener to a wide array of music. From Irish folk to African music from Zimbabwe, West Africa, and North Africa, each Rough Guide is thematically compiled for a particular geographic region or style (such as Reggae, Salsa, and Flamenco). Even more obscure kinds of World Music like from Japan as well as Kenya and Tanzania are covered, as well as classic jazz.

Each Rough Guide has 15 tracks from different artists and feature a short biography of each. These musical Rough Guides go hand in hand with the hardback volumes from Penguin that are traveller's handbooks.

I had a chance to give a listen to Rough Guides for World Roots, The Music of Africa, Calypso & Soca, and Irish Folk. I was immediately impressed with the variety of artists and styles on each album. The World Roots compilation features Baaba Maal, Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn and the incredible Afro-Cuban All Stars, among other high-profile and more obscure artists. The same goes for each release -- it's a musical slice of life for the regions.

Rough Guides are distributed by World Music Network.

Previous Features