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Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Colombian Street Party

(World Music Network; US: 21 Oct 2008; UK: 21 Oct 2008)

Good man, compiler John Armstrong, this is exactly how a party album from a respected world music label should be handled. The easy thing to do would have been to turn it into an all-cumbia compilation, or wall-to-wall it with Spanish-language dance-pop. Armstrong’s fluff-free mix starts with flutey, folky gaita from Sixto Silgado and his Gaiteros, then takes off into an amazing medley of different styles, merengue, hip hop, cumbia, nu-salsa, rock, dance, champeta, not even rejecting Ricky Martin when one of the bands grabs the olé olé olé chorus from “La Copa de la Vida” and instrumentals it. The straight Rough Guide albums open countries out in front of us like degustation menus. So does this one, but it keeps up a party tempo while it does it.

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