The guitar licks and driving beats of rock music have been influencing bands from across the globe for decades, mixing local sounds with rock and creating striking new guitar-fuelled styles. Featuring the Cambodian-American psychedelia of Dengue Fever, the magnificent desert blues of Tinariwen, the Gypsy Punk of Gogol Bordello and the Tuvan rock throat singing of Yat-Kha, this album rocks!
Artists include – Dengue Fever, Les Boukakes, Tinariwen, Ba Cissoko, Hip Hop Hoodios, Balkan Beat Box, Albert Kuvezin & Yat-Kha, Alms For Shanti, Yela, Donna Maria, Transsylvanians, Haydamaky, Rim Banna, Etran Finatawa, Konono N° 1 and Gogol Bordello
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“Are you ready to rock, brothers and sisters?” Thankfully, these are not words one hears too often from the stage at WOMAD. Nevertheless, The Rough Guide To Planet Rock is a hugely enjoyable exploration of how the raw power and high-octane energy of rock’n’roll have conquered – and enriched – the globe. Of course, the guitar licks and driving beats that trace a lineage back to ‘Johnny B Goode’ have all mutated and been adapted to fit local conditions on the 16 tracks here. Among the most familiar names are Touareg blues-rockers Tinariwen, Congo’s Konono No 1, Tuva’s Yat-Kha and the wild Gypsy-punk racket of Gogol Bordello, all of whom have already earned a hallowed place in planet rock’s hall of fame. But who’d have thought that Jim Morrison and the Doors would one day beget the Cambodian psychedelic rock of Dengue Fever? Or that 37 years after Woodstock, India’s Alms For Shanti would sound like an Asian version of Santana?
A couple of tracks don’t quite fit. La Réunion’s Yela peddle a derivative Afro-beat-meets-acid-jazz, and you can’t help wondering why it’s here instead of someone like Femi Kuti. The Lisbon-based group Donna Maria sound like a Portuguese version of Lo’Jo – they’re actually rather good, but they don’t really rock. Yet, overall, this is a tremendously entertaining and instructive celebration of both the ubiquity and the sheer diversity of the rock’n’roll revolution. Chuck Berry could really have had no idea what he was starting half a century ago.
(from Songlines # 39)