I had a slight shift in music, partly inspired by the impending St. Patrick’s day holiday and partly just from dumb luck in finding some interesting new music at the public library. So this month has been a mixture of Arabic and Irish tunes.
The Putumayo collections have always been good. I find the Celtic Tides one to be okay, although a bit insipid. But the Arabic Groove collection is really fun to listen to. If you like knowing what the singer is saying, you’d better know French and Arabic (and perhaps other languages?). I’m not so fussy and I find the songs very accessible. Tracks Amarain by Amr Diab (Wikipedia) and Intil Waheeda by Hisham Abbas (Wikipedia), both Egyptians.
Another collection of tunes that includes Middle Eastern as well as music from around the world is the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2005. This has a more mixed bag of music – with Arabic Groove, you could hardly miss a track. It also has better known (in the West?) artists like Youssou N’Dour and Bjork.
What with St. David’s Day (Wales) on March 1 and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, it seems a waste not to hit a variety of “celtic” countries’ music. From Wales, some chestnuts like We’ll Keep a Welcome and Cwm Rhondda from Bryn Terfel: We’ll Keep a Welcome (Bryn Terfel @ Wikipedia) and some folk from Ar Log.
Scotland is an embarrassment of riches – if you like the skirl of bagpipes, and who doesn’t? The Police Pipe Bands of Scotland is a great collection of tunes, including the lovely Highland Cathedral and a nice mixture of traditional (Scotland the Brave, Bluebells of Scotland) and modern (Buzz ‘N Rolls, Skimpy Knickers). Narada is a great label and I particularly enjoy the Brave Hearts CD. It’s worth any price to have a recording of Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to the City of Glasgow by Blair Douglas. Sure, some of the artists are Canadian – Leahy and Ashley MacIsaac – but they fit right in. The Poozies and Shooglenifty have also been getting some play as part of the Folk ‘n Hell disk from Hemisphere Artists.
Finally, for the Irish it has been an assortment of traditional and not so. These include Common Ground, the Real Reels of Ireland, and the Dance Music of Ireland: Jigs and Reels. All feature a variety of artists – I prefer the latter, without vocalists, because I’m not really pining for the auld sod and they often are.