Exotic rhythms, Doo Wop collections hit shelves

Trilock Gurtu - African FantasyIf you're looking to add a bit of exoticism to your summer music selection, to help make your back yard feel more like the coasts of Africa or South America, there's a handful of new releases from The Verve Music Group/Blue Thumb Records that you should put on your list to look for. My favorite is Trilok Gurtu's African Fantasy, a mix of Indian and African rhythms that moves from insistent tribal percussion to smooth contemplative sitar ballads in a seamless meld of many foreign aural tapestries. While the vocals aren't in English, the feeling comes through without need for lyrical definitions. African pop singer Angelique Kidjo (who has performed at Lilith Fair in the past) guests on a couple of tracks, and the band includes exotic instruments, like didgeridoo, harmonium, caracab and more.

The Blue Thumb world music label has also just released Ciranca from Brazilian guitarist Marcia Faraco, Prenda Minha from Brazilian Afro-Brazilian jazz percussionist Caetano Veloso and the self-titled Mino Cinelu from international jazz percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Mino Cinelu, who has played with Miles Davis, Weather Report, Sting, Lou Reed, David Sanborn, Bruce Springsteen, Tori Amos and many more ...


Various Artists - Doo Wop Box IIIRhino Records has released a third box set from various artists of Doo Wop recordings (the label's first foray into reissuing this vocal form came out in a1993 box set). The Doo Wop Box III, a four-CD collection, includes one CD covering hits, another for "should-have-been hits," a disc of the favorite doo wop hits picked by celebrities (ranging from George Carlin to Robert Plant) and the fourth disc is dedicated to modern doo wop by artists like Manhattan Transfer, Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon and The Stray Cats. The other discs include songs by The Dominoes, The Midnighters, Safaris, The Drifters, The Heartbeats, The Jaguars, The Four J's, The Clovers, The Moonglows, The Chantels, and more.

The new box follows a PBS special fundraising concert, "Doo Wop 50," which turned out to be the most successful PBS pledge drive show ever, and which gave a big boost to the sales of Rhino's first two Doo Wop box collections. Rhino will be issuing a video of that concert show later this year and PBS will be airing a new Doo Wop concert, this time called "Doo Wop@51."


Various Artists
Whistle Bait! 25 Rockabilly Rave-Ups

Ain't I'm a Dog 25 More Rockabilly Rave-Ups

Various Artists - Whistle Bait!Legacy has "horned in" on Rhino Records' traditional territory (themed classic song anthology packages), but does a decent job pulling together 50 classic '50s rockabilly sides.

The shortcoming to these two discs (sold separately) is the limitation of using only artists from the Columbia, Epic, Okeh and Date labels (how can you do a rockabilly collection without Jerry Lee Lewis?) and the thin descriptions in the CD booklets.

While including a commentary article on the scene which spawned these songs, if Rhino had put these sets out, there would no doubt have been far more detailed explanation of where these songs came from and what happened to their artists (especially some of the one-hit wonders included), most of whom will be unknown to anyone under 50.

Aside from songs from still-known quantities like Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton and Marty Robbins, these discs include early rockabilly songs from Ronnie Self, Larry Collins, Link Wray, Billy "Crash"Craddock, Sid King and the Five Strings, and more.