Various Artists

Island Blues

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As compilation themes go, this is a big one, taking music from islands around the globe -- there are certainly enough of them, with a very healthy variety of music to choose from, ample to fill the two discs that comprise this set. By staying away from any established names, they keep the focus very firmly on the music. And what music! From the very first track, the sublime "Bwana" by Baco from the Comoros, this is a journey. The Caribbean brings plenty of variety, including a version of "Day Oh!" in its original mento form that reclaims the song from Harry Belafonte. The most interesting and strange music comes on the second disc, however, like the Pynalosa Bamboo Band, whose bamboo drums sounds like deep rubber bands, or Benny Nawahi's vintage "Tickling the Strings," which jazzes up the Hawaiian guitar. Even Europe has its oddities, like the Mediterranean's Coro Di Neoneli with Luigi Lai, where a strange flute meets polyphonic singing. The delights are endless and the extensive liner notes give plenty of background. It might just take a little over two hours, but this is the trip of a lifetime.

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