Various Artists

The Very Best of Africa

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Claiming the music on a CD is the very best of an entire continent is quite grand -- and very hard to live up to. Unfortunately, this disc really doesn't live up to it. Indeed, it would be almost impossible when the biggest global name here is Johnny Clegg. He's a star, but definitely not A-list. Instead, this is a compilation drawn, at least in part, if not entirely, from the label's catalog of African music. They have cherry-picked the good stuff, to be fair, and Ramadu and Insingizi, both from Zimbabwe, are the artistic equals of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It's a shame that Clegg's track isn't his best, but it's still powerful, and "Sina Mory" from the Seckou Keita Quartet, features some lovely kora playing from the leader. Add to that plenty of drumming, with Barry Van Zyl a standout, and you have a good album. But the very best of Africa? Not a chance.

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