Various Artists

Ethno Punk: Around the World with Attitude

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Gerald Seligman, who compiled and annotated this sampler, makes the standard complaint about the globalization of pop music and its tendency to swamp regional styles. Then he contradicts himself and praises the music found here, all of it heavily influenced by Anglo-American rock in melodic, rhythmic, and attitudinal terms. Apparently, the cultural rape Seligman objects to is pop, but not rock based. So, he seeks out what he calls "urban artists" who play what he calls "ethno punk" music. And what he finds is an hour's worth of engaging rock music -- 15 songs from 13 countries in ten languages. His chosen artists share the usual concerns, from adolescent angst and romantic urges to naive political advocacy, but sometimes express them in unusual ways. Ciudad Jardin, in "Mireme, Miss," contribute a typical song in which the singer is trying to get a young lady's attention. But are there any Anglo-Americans who would sing (in translation from Spanish), "The soul of my entire village will explode in front of your very nose"? Now, there's a come-on! Seligman's choices share a liveliness that makes the album listenable, and if France's Mano Negra don't really sound "something like the Clash in Cairo," there are several candidates here for the next Gipsy Kings. (Irish-American rock band Black 47 is something of a ringer here, but not unwelcome for that.)

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