Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Gypsy Music

Rough Guides RGNET12220CD


Mid Price (60 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

Since their original gypsy compilation back in 1999, Rough Guide to the Music of the Gypsies, enough has gone on in terms of public perception to warrant a slew of more specialised compilations – the Music of Hungarian Gypsies, Balkan Gypsies and Romanian Gypsies. Now, as Rough Guides pan out with this second edition to take stock of the whole scene, it is clearly popular enough to have evolved into a genre in its own right: gypsy music. So where to start? All the big Balkan names are rightly here: Romanian brass band Fanfare de Ciocarlia kick us off with ‘Que Dolor’, their storming Spanish language version of their first hit ‘Iag Bari’; Taraf de Haidouks’ interpretation of Khachaturyan’s ‘Waltz from Masquerade’ shows them at their sublime best; the thrashed out, over-produced ‘Guglo Kafava’ doesn’t do Bosnia’s Mostar Sevdah Reunion justice at all. Alongside the excellent buleria ‘Un Compromiso/Toda Una Vida’ by gutsy flamenco revivalists Son De La Frontera, and Stochelo Rosenberg’s gypsy jazz Stevie Wonder cover ‘I Wish’ are a few stranger choices:!Dela Dap’s electro pop would be better served by separate album as it sits awkwardly in this acoustic mix, as does ‘Barish’ from Rajasthani band Musafir, an afterthought tacked on at the end. Three stars for the album itself, one more for the gritty, impressive bonus CD: a whole album by Hungarian Bela Lakatos, which is well worth the cover price alone.

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