Various Artists

Tribal, Folk & Cafe Music of West Africa

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In 1949, American writer Arthur S. Alberts undertook a 4,000 mile, six month tour of West Africa, in a jeep filled with up-to-the-minute recording equipment. While most folklorists go into the field with a pretty clear idea of what they're looking for, Alberts appears to have recorded and documented anything he came across, whether it was traditional in nature or not. The results, originally released as a three-LP set on long-playing 78s in the early 1950s, are an honest survey of West African music at the advent of the modern era. Disc One of this CD reissue contains mostly traditional and rural pieces, with several tracks of drumming, as well as sacred and ritual songs, work songs, and school children's chants. The second disc in the set features more guitar, and is urban and modern in tone, concluding with heavily Western-influenced songs from the cafes of Liberia, including three tracks by Howard B. Hayes that could have been recorded at any corner bar in the world, as long as it had a piano.

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