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Various Artists
AFRICAN PLAYGROUND
Putumayo

By JAMES RODGERS

Published April 19, 2006

The latest release in Putumayo’s highly regarded World Playground series, African Playground is both educational and entertaining, a difficult feat they accomplish without a hitch. Combining 13 upbeat songs from a wide array of African countries with a 32-page booklet, the project teaches children about the artists and their cultural backgrounds.  Most are lesser known, with the biggest names being Vieux Diop, the Mahotella Queens and Angelique Kidjo (who recorded the brand new “Battu” just for this release).  Tunes are in native languages, save for a few in English. For those who listen closely, there are bits of “Hakuna Matata” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”  (based on an African folk song) blended in the mix. African Playground is required listening for anyone who wants to be exposed to the larger world. This disc is so refreshing, in fact, you won’t mind when your child asks you to play it again and again.

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