07 July 2006

The Rough Guide to Planet Rock (CD Review)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Planet Rock
(World Music Network)
buy CD/hear samples
Live Locally, Rock Globally.
What defines rock? Guitars? Drums? A driving energy? Maybe we just know it when we hear it. And if you're still under the delusion that rock is confined to Anglo-American circles, listen up. From the opening guitar-organ riffs of Dengue Fever's "We Were Gonna" to the frenetic punk beats of the closing "I Would Never Want to Be Young Again" by Gogol Bordello, this disc proves that the rest of the world can rock. Admittedly, those two tracks are from US-based groups, but between them you'll find artists from Niger, Tuva, India, Portugal, Algeria, Hungary, and beyond (but no Rachid Taha, curiously). A few of the tracks are so far out on the edge of the "rock" umbrella that they're getting wet (La Reunion's Yela, Ukraine's Haydamaky, and Congo's Konono No. 1, for example). And aren't the Hip Hop Hoodios less rock and more, um, hip hop? Still, if rock can't be inclusive, what can? Just be advised that if you're using this disc as a launching point into more world rock, you might find the full albums of some of these artists (particularly Palestine's Rim Banna and Guinea's Ba Cissoko) a far cry from Van Halen.

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