Putumayo's world music compilations of the 1990s were musical roller coasters -- when a theme was chosen, listeners expected the label to be as broad-minded and eclectic as possible. Released in early 1999, A Mediterranean Odyssey: Athens to Andalucia was no exception. The theme of this collection is 1990s music from the Mediterranean countries of southwestern Europe (including Spain, Italy, and Greece), but you won't find any one particular style on the CD. Anything but predictable, A Mediterranean Odyssey ranges from the Greek pop and rembetiko sounds of George Dalaras' "Pame Gi Allou," Glykeria's "Pare Me Apopse Pare Me," and Anemos' "Miazis Me Fotia." to Spanish singer Maria Salgado's haunting ballad "Solo por Miedo," and Sardinian group Càlic's evocative "Un Poeta." On "Saudade," France's Barrio Chino offers an intriguing mixture of Middle Eastern and Latin elements. There are some parallels between the CD's rembetiko offerings and "Bebiendo al Alba" by Madrid oud player Luis Delgado. The very recognizable oud (an Arabic lute) has been a part of traditional Arabic music for centuries, and Delgado is someone whose music celebrates the Moorish influence in Spanish music. A person could nit-pick and wonder why there aren't any artists from Portugal on this compilation -- some Portuguese fado music would have been appropriate -- but instead of nit-picking, it's best to grab a copy of this compilation and savor it.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson