Various Artists

Ethiopiques, Vol. 3: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music

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The third installment of Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series is undoubtedly one of the best, an unlikely occurrence as most of this material was released in 1975 -- a year after the fall of Emperor Haile Sallassie and after the rise of a repressive military regime that quickly brought to an end the "Golden Age" of "Swinging Addis." Mahmoud Ahmed, the best known Ethiopian pop singer in Europe, contributes the two powerful lead tracks and the finale: three trance-heavy tracks not found on other Ethiopiqes releases dedicated specifically to him. But the best material on this installment are Alemayehe Eshete's tracks, four in all, that sound like heavy, James Brown-style funk sung by an African with a Middle Eastern horn section. Elsewhere, Hirut Beqele's ska-like rhythms and wavering, melodica-sounding voice testify to the reciprocal influence of Jamaican music. Overall, Ethiopiques, Vol. 3 is the most varied release in the series, and not a bad place to start.

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