various artists,
Oxfam Africa: Dance Rhythms
from Algeria to Zimbabwe

(World Music Network, 2001)

I am a big fan of compilation CDs. I am also a big fan of music from around the world. So, it should be little surprise that I am thoroughly enjoying Oxfam Africa: Dance Rhythms from Algeria to Zimbabwe, which was recently released by the World Music Network. This CD contains 13 tracks representing artists from Senegal, Guinea, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Congo, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, South Africa and Cape Verde

From North to South, East to West, the artists showcased on Oxfam Africa display a wide variety of music, which might be expected on a CD that covers an entire continent. Some styles are more traditional while others portray a European colonial influence and others display modern African pop and rap and even one reggae song. This is quite the eclectic compilation!

Most of you should be familiar with the opening artists, Youssou N'Dour. Representing Senegal, he is one of the more recognized African artists on the CD. If you haven't heard of him as a solo artist, you might relate him to work he has done with Peter Gabriel. On Africa, Youssou N'Dour sings "Xarit" from the album Best of 80s.

My favorite group on the CD is Eyuphuro -- one of two bands from Mozambique which have songs on Oxfam Africa. (Several months ago, I wrote a review of their album Yellela -- if you like "Ohawha," I would highly recommend looking into that CD as well.)

The only English track on Oxfam Africa is "Prisoner" by Lucky Dube. This song was originally released on the album of the same name. Lucky, from South Africa, is the continent's top-selling reggae artist. If you don't recognize the track, you will at least recognize the groove as it represents the link between Africa and one the sounds of the Caribbean.

The other 10 artists and groups have songs that range from traditional African tribal type songs to pieces with a definite Middle Eastern influence, to the pop/rap mentioned earlier. Performers include Sona Diabate', Lagbaja, Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects, Bellemou, Koffi Olomide, Batanai Marimba, Tarika, Abdullah Ibrahim, Tito Paris and Mabulu. Despite the wide range of backgrounds, I feel that this CD blends the different genres quite expertly.

Oxfam Africa is a specially enhanced CD that should work in most computers. I was able to click on the index.htm file in the main directory to bring up a data tour of the Oxfam organization. This organization is currently working to improve the livelihood, education, health care and general rights of people living in many of the impoverished nations that make up the African continent. If you are into humanitarian causes, you might find this interesting. If you are not, you can safely play this CD on your computer without being bothered. (You have to actively search for the index.htm file. It does not start up automatically.) I at least think the photos are worth checking out.

If you like world music in general, African music in particular, or just enjoy exposing yourself to new musical experiences, I highly recommend Oxfam Africa as a worthy addition to your music collection. At a minimum, it will expand your musical horizons. Even better; perhaps you will even end up acquiring more CDs based on the artists that truly grab your attention.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 2 February 2002

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