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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Various Artists

By Chris Heim
Published April 3, 2007

Africa: From Dakar To Johannesburg

A good compilation is defined enough to have focus, yet is still broadly appealing; offers key works for novices, and rare gems for aficionados. At its best, compiling imparts vision and knowledge by the very act of selection. Unfortunately, it’s hard to figure out what the thinking was here. There are no major artists, must-have tracks, or connections of style or theme (except perhaps a vague traditional bent). The disc bounces between a half dozen countries, mysteriously including three tracks from one group, but only one from nine others, and three cuts are simply credited to “Various Artists.” Liner notes are scattershot. Only a few tracks stand out, one from deep-voiced, keening Malian singer Mamany Kouyaté, and a “Jingo”-esque, full-bore, drum-driven “Danse Rituelle” by those aforementioned various artists. There are better collections for newcomers and little for well-traveled listeners exploring a continent with an abundance of great music and artists.