Man, talk about your headline grabbers, right? I mean, what kind of battle could I be talking about in regards to this week's World Music Show (8/17)? Will be a battle of sexes? A battle of the Network Stars (ok, I'm really dating myself there with that one)? Or will two World Music heavywieghts duke it out to win the right to be ear candy for you to carry through the rest of the weekend? Well, sort of.
The musical heavywieghts in this case, will be two World Music record labels that have put out an incredible amount of music over the past decade or more. In fact, many of my shows are populated with songs from just these two labels. In one corner, or hour, we'll pit the Six Degrees record label against hour two's competitor, Luaka Bop. Plus, for good measure, we'll throw in a few choice selections from the Putumayo record label--they'll be acting like referees. Who will win? What is the prize? Well, let's get to the end of this missive first.
In hour one, it's all about the Six Degrees label, which is an independent record label noted for its catalog of recordings from international musicians and vocalists. Here's a little history (thanks to Wikipedia): In 1996, former Windham Hill employees Pat Berry and Bob Duskis founded Six Degrees Records with the intention of promoting new trends in world music. Originally affiliated with Island Records, Berry and Duskis achieved their first major success with the release of London-based tabla player Talvin Singh's influential compilation album "Anokha - Soundz of the Asian Underground." Although Singh was not the only artist featured on the album, he was marketed as the focal point of the release. In this way, the media acquired a poster child upon which to lavish its attention, enabling album sales to approach 200,000 units.
From there, they've put out a ton of great compilations, such as a travel series featuring places like Africa, Asia and Arabia. Other worthy compilations include "Six Degrees 100," and "Traveler '00." Besides compilations, though, this label has helped showcases artists and bands from all over the globe, some of these you'll hear in this hour.
So, here's the rundown: We'll start the show--as I do with every show--with the Brazilian band BossaCucaNova (they're the band who opens every World Music Show). Off their CD "Uma Batida Diferente," we'll hear the songs "Samba da Minha Terra" (which is the ever-present opener, which features Zuco 103), followed by the song "Essa Moca Ta Diferente," which features the singer Simoninha. Also in this first chunk of music will be tracks from the Brazilian singer Ceu, a Cuban number from the band Patato.
Off one of those masterful compilations I mentioned, we'll dive into the next chunk of music. From the CD "A Six Degrees Collection: Traveler '00," we'll hear from the singer Ekova as well as from the great Baaba Maal, doing his song "Souka Nayo," which is a Thievery Coporation Remix by the way. Also in this set will be a cut from one of their early Asian/Tabla compilations. Dj Cheb I Sabbah (who is based in San Francisco) will do the song "Raja Vedalu." Then, off another compilation, called "Six Degrees 100," we'll hear from Issa Bagayogo, who has been called "Electric Issa," for his masterful playing of the Kamele n' Goni, which is a 6-stringed instrument similar to a banjo.
Then to close out round one, we'll hear three tracks from the Six Degree Travel series, namely, "African Travels", "Asian Travels," and "Arabian Travels," repectively.
For round 2 of this Battle Royale, it'll be the label Luaka Bop's turn. Luaka Bop was established by David Byrne, former guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer of the Talking Heads. In it's beginning, back in 1988, it had distribution relationships with Warner Bros. Records, as well as with Narada/Virgian/EMI Records. But since 2006, It has been a wholly independent label. Like Six Degrees, Luaka Bop has put out both stellar compilations featuring sounds from around the world, and they've released a bunch of full length albums, EPs, and singles from individual artists and bands. It all started with a passion of Byrnes--Brazilian music. In fact Byrne used to scour record stores ever since his youth, looking for different and unusual music. The label's first CD, "Brazil Classics" kicked off the label and a set of seven albums surveying eras and artists ranging from Samba to Tropicália soon followed. They also ventured into Afro-Peruvian and AfroPean music and unearthed the talents of Susana Baca, Zap Mama and Tom Ze, respectively. Another highlight is thier " World Psychedelic Classics" CDs, which are made up of three albums, which includes artists such as Shuggie Otis, Os Mutantes as well as West African artists of the late 1960s. As you can tell, they really have run the gamut through time and location of World Music. (Again, special thanks to Wikipedia).
As for the name, Byrne apparently took the phrase "Luaka Bop" for his record label from the inner packaging of a specialty tea which is sold in England. (Luaka is the name of a tea importer. Luaka's "Broken Orange Pekoe" is packaged in a silver foil block; when the sleeve is removed, it reveals a white label stuck to the foil, reading "Luaka BOP").
And here's the rundown for Luaka Bop: From "The Sound of Sound," we'll hear the interesting American Jim White (whose sound is out of this world); From their Afro-Peruvian Classics series, "The Soul of Black Peru," we'll hear from Lucila Campos. Then it'll be Tom Ze's turn to thrill you. Ze was part of that juggernaut of Brazilian music known as the Tropicalismo movement, which also featured artists such as Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who were all from the tate of Bahia.
Other compilations featured in this hour will be a track (called "Bob" by the band Otto) from "What's Happening in Pernambuco. New Sounds of the Brazilian Northeast." And we'll hear a couple of songs from their "Bomaye Compilation", which will be some beautifually guitar driven tracks from Jorge Ben as well as from Tom Ze (yes, he deserves more songs!). We'll round out the battle with a couple of songs from their "Twenty First Century/Twenty First Year" compilation, namely some songs from Moussa Doumbia and the French band Nouvelle Vague (who do a great cover of the Blondie song "Heart of Glass").
And just to even out the playing field a bit, we'll close the show with some tracks from the Putumayo Record Label including songs by the band Les Go, as well as from Angelique Kidjo, Emo, Linn & Freddie and the duo Arling & Cameron.
So, after this week's World Music Show, who will win the Battle of the Record Label? Well, it's you, of course. Becuase there's so much great music featured this week, that hopefully you're inspired to go to my track listings, then click on them (which will take you to Amazon.com), and purchase them. Becuase if you do that, our station gets a little bit of the money from that--so it's a win-win.
The World Music Show is heard Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. (though, starting August 31s, it'll move to it's new time of 8:00 p.m.) on WCVE Public Radio, 88.9FM or online at this website. You can follow the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic.