Roughing it

The Rough Guide music division
By ADAM GOLD  |  June 5, 2007
inside_downind
Asha Bhosle

The Rough Guide series has long been a staple of the travel publishing industry; less well known is the company’s music division, the compilations of which are worthy to the extent that any “best of” can be. This summer’s new releases include The Rough Guide to Salsa (Second Edition) and The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam, both out June 5 through World Music Network. For a taste, you can stream clips of the new releases at www.worldmusic.net. Or you can check out tracks from past Rough Guides at iTunes.

Joe Arroyo, “La guerra de los callados”
This one, from The Rough Guide to Salsa Colombia, begs to be cranked up, preferably in a convertible or on a stoop. It’s textbook salsa all the way, from the bass player’s tumbao jumping off the conga pattern to the screechy horn stabs, flashy piano licks, and call-and-response vocals.

Darde Eshgh, “O-Hum”
The low drone and wailing Middle Eastern instruments that characterize the first 60 seconds of this track from The Rough Guide to the Music of Iran make the true beginning of its Persian pop song that much more surprising. A rhythm guitar with heavy distortion comes blazing out of the desert soundscape, followed by an ’80s racing-video-game rock beat and lyrics drawn from the works of a 14th-century Iranian poet.

Asha Bhosle, “Jawani Jan-E-Man”
Until the vocals of Asha Bhosle enter on this track from The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle, the intro sounds like a blues guitarist jamming on a Broadway overture. The rest of the tune is carried by the Bollywood diva’s seductive voice, which skips playfully over a clip-clopping vamp and high-pitched orchestral fills.

Yabby U meet King Tubby, “Conquering Dub”
Does dub really need a Rough Guide? If so, the first 10 seconds of this track from The Rough Guide to Dub are all you need to get fully caught up. The beat is exactly what you’d expect — slow and repetitive, with muted guitar strums on the upbeats and occasional horn licks with tons of delay. Perfect for getting stoned — and little else.
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