Various Artists

Sound of the Beat

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A two-CD set focusing on reggae and various African, Caribbean and Latin styles, The Sound of the Beat was released in 1996 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Beat Magazine. The publication, originally called The Reggae and African Beat, grew out of The Reggae Beat, a fine radio program L.A. reggae enthusiast Roger Steffens co-founded in the early 1980s at the listener-supported KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, CA. It was a small newsletter at first, but evolved into one of the biggest world-music magazines available. The songs on this set were chosen by The Beat's contributors -- and that includes everything from reggae classics by the Mighty Diamonds ("Right Time") and Joe Higgs ("Soh It Go") to African songs by Pamelo Mounk'a ("Ngai Mwana Ya Mana") and the adventurous Fela Anikulapo-Kuti ("Sorrow, Tears and Blood"). Gabriel Romero's "La Subienda" underscores the richness of Colombian cumbia, while Brazil is represented by Sergio Mendes' "What Is This?" and Maria Bethania & Gal Costa's "Sonho Meu." The Sound of the Beat is a collection that will never be called predictable.

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