various artists,
Drop the Debt
(Say It Loud, 2002;
World Village, 2003)

Drop the Debt is a CD that supports a very worthy cause, but I will not urge you to buy it because of that. Knowing that you are helping nations to help themselves is a bonus. This CD is an ideal opportunity to acquire a knowledge and appreciation of the music and cultures of other lands, but it is also an excellent collection of music -- so buy it on merit, not sentiment.

Just looking at the track listing is like seeing a National Geographic table of contents: Brazil, Senegal, France, Japan and Burkina Faso are just some countries represented here. The languages are not barriers; listen to the poetic sound of lyrics whose meaning you do not have a clue about. Listen and be amazed at what you can appreciate.

"Quem Pode" from Cape Verde is a case in point. I have no idea what they are singing about, but I love the sound.

If you need to understand the lyrics there are some tracks in English. The most powerful of these comes from South Africa on "The Third World Cries Everyday." Listen to this track and have your eyes opened with lyrics like "We are not beggars needing sympathy."

The 16 tracks here will make you aware of the diversity of musical cultures and also the cross-fertilisation that occurs in music.

Maybe the producers will be offended but I would have liked the excellent booklet accompanying the album to have background notes in English for all rather than just some of the tracks. Having made the point I completely understand that this is a world album, so why pander to one language?

As stated above, buy this for the great music and get "brownie points" even as you enjoy yourself.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 7 February 2004

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