Oh, tis a noble quest to be so ignoble....
I debated how best to handle the large group of CDs that are found in the category of compilations. A few could be near the artists they are in tribute to (like the Tom Waits Tribute album, or the Petra Haden version of The Who Sell Out). Should I divide them by genre? Still, would create plenty of arbitrary divisions. So, I'm just going to lump them all in together, sorted by album title.
10th Anniversary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Mixture of styles and talents. New Orleans had better be rebuilt, if only for the rich food and musical heritage....
Rough Guide to Arabesque Unexpected pleasure, in a compilation of hip-hop and electronic music from North Africa and the Middle East. I don't have a very deep library of either of those genres, so don't know if this is derivative, unique or what. I do know that the bass pumps.
Anthology of American Folk Music The famous Harry Smith compilation. 6 discs, crammed full of early American music. Sort of like a Billboard top 100 for the Depression years, or maybe like a One Hit Wonder.
Appalachian Stomp - Bluegrass Classics A good sampler of “Country Heavy Metal”, including stalwarts such as Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, the Country Gentlemen, etc.. If you just want to have one bluegrass album in your collection, and don't want to buy a whole album of Bill Monroe (the acknowledged master of the genre), then this is the disc for you.... Though, after a listen or two a year, the Ballad of Jed Clampett is imminently skippable. In fact, I'm doing it now.
Aria Passion for Opera
I am not really much of an opera fan, much less a buff, so I don't know if I am really qualified to comment on this album. The only I really like is sung by Caruso. That said, a few songs on this compilation (suggested by Tom Waits) are pretty good. I'll leave it at that. Oh, ok, and some songs I recognize from Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Arkology 3 disc set of Lee Scratch Perry-produced tracks, dub-reggae mostly, but some other stuff too. Who's who of Jamaican reggae contained herein. Quite good. Mr. Perry may be insane, eccentric, or just highly in-tuned to frequencies others cannot hear, but he is a musical genius, no doubt. Nice packaging on this set too. Possible desert island disc.
meh. A freebie acquired sometime in 1999. Electronica like the Chemical Brothers and their ilk. Hasn't held my interest much over the years. If you want my copy, just ask, I'll sell it for the price of postage.
Atlantic Blues: Chicago Nothing spectacular on this one, but a good sampler of Chicago electric blues (Otis Rush, Freddie King, Koko Taylor, et al), with more rock-oriented sidemen (Dr. John, Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, et al).
Atlantic Blues: Guitar Own the double album (vinyl) edition, which has more songs for some reason. Still, 20 blues guitar tunes, including some masterpieces - Broke Down Engine - Blind Willie McTell, Born Under a Bad Sign - Albert King, etc. Worth getting in a used store if you ever come across it (or heaven forbid, purchase it new for less than a meal at Starbucks)
Beat the Retreat
(see Richard Thompson section, forthcoming)
Rough Guide to Bellydance I'm certainly no expert on Bellydance music. But I like this a lot. Good for working in Excel....
Rough Guide to BoogalooBlend of Cuban jazz and American soul, popular in NYC in the 60s mostly. Tito Puente is the only name I'm familiar with. Fun music.
British Invasion One week, feeling all musical-historian-ish, bought this box set. I don't really care for much of the music on here, too fey for me. Of course, there are dozens of good songs (Can't Explain, She's Not There, A Well Respected Man, for instance), and I suppose I am glad that I have these songs if I never need one for some other purpose, but all in all, should have just bought this used. No Rolling Stones, almost no Beatles, yadda yadda. Any box set is going to have some misses. I guess my complaint is that I don't really like early rock music, too cloyingly cutesy. B-
Beleza Tropical My first introduction to Brazilian pop music. Still a beautiful album, and many thanks to David Byrne for compiling it.
“Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor!, Compiled By David Byrne” (Various Artists) Not quite as good as the first album, but filled with great music.
Big Blunts 12 reggae songs about everybody's favorite herbal smoking material. If the songs sucked, this would be a stupid idea, but the songs are good, in fact, some are classics, so....
I'm not sure what prompted me to purchase this album, but I've suggested dozens of people buy copies. Great album. Great movie as well. Possible desert island disc.
Rough Guide to Music of Cape Verde Not bad. If I had visited here, perhaps I'd like this CD better. B-
Caribbean Island Music Bought in an ethnomusicology mood. Very primitive music.
Rough Guide to Central Asia cribbed from Amazon:
Asia's fabled Silk Road trade route once stretched from China to Western Europe and today, the region is home to a vast multi-ethnic musical tapestry. The majority of the area¹s traditions began in Turkey but Tajikistan¹s hails from ancient Persia--plus there were centuries of cross-pollination with passing caravans. The most ubiquitous instrument is the saz, a long-necked lute, which is also called the dutar and tanbur (Uzbekistan), setar (Tajikistan), dombra (Kazakhstan), or komuz (Kyrgyzstan). City-dwellers, with easy access to international influences, generally prefer a contemporary sound, while the songs of the nomadic peoples have developed along folkloric lines. Thus, the tracks on this set range from the cool electronica of Farzin, to Nobovar & Shams Group's English-laced hip-hop, to pungent rural ballads redolent of a wanderer's home fire. Together, they spin a seductive, shamanistic spell as old as the Gobi Desert, as young as dawn over the steppes.Uh, yeah.
Chelsea Walls Not sure of the pedigree of this album, perhaps a soundtrack to some indie movie? Downbeat, atmospheric versions of various tunes, including a great version of Jealous Guy by Jimmy Scott. Ultimately, though, this isn't an album that I listen to very closely, tends to fade out into the ether.
Chess Rhythm and Roll
4 disc set of various Chess R&B artists like Etta James, Chuck Berry and lesser known artists like Roscoe Gorden, Tommy Tucker, Clarence Frogman Henry, etc.
Music from the PRC, ranging from traditional to Lilith-Fair-inspired pop to hard-edged rock. B+
Rough Guide to Congolese Soukous
Up tempo, cheerful music from the Congo fka Zaire. I don't understand the lyrics of course, but I understand the emotions. A blend of rumba with African rhythms. Dance music for sure.
Copulating Blues Raunchy tunes from another era, including homosexuality (If I can't find me a woman, I'll get me a sissy man instead), subtle (please warm my weiner), and raw: (A big sow gets fat from eatin' corn, And a pig gets fat from suckin', Reason you see this whore, fat like I am, Great God, I got fat from fuckin'.)
Cuba Classics 2 more David Byrne comps: covering the vast Cuban music scene. Music to shake your hips to.
Cuba Classics 3 more David Byrne comps: covering the vast Cuban music scene. Music to shake your hips to, including some Cuban heavy metal.
Cuba I am Time 4 disc set, in cigar box, of Cuban pop, jazz, etc. Each disc covers a genre: Cuban Invocations (Afro-Cuban religious music), Cantar en Cuba (songcraft), Bailar con Cuba (dance music), and Cubano Jazz (jazz).
Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures volume 4 I was hoping I would like this more than I do. Not bad, but not spectacular.
“The Rough Guide to Delta Blues” (Various Artists) mid-grade collection of Mississippi Delta blues artists.
Rough Guide to Egypt Nothing spectacular, at least after a few listens. Plan on keeping this though, never know when it will be just the right soundtrack to some party.
“Ethiopiques 4” (Various Artists) Vols 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 12 and possibly more. Purchased from the great, great record store Aquarius records in San Fran. Like taking a trip in time to Ethiopia. Who knew such good music came out of Ethiopia?