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A solid introduction to modern African pop

Africa: Never Stand Still
Africa: Never Stand Still
By various artists

Ellipsis Arts: 1994

This review first appeared in the July 1, 1994 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Ellipsis Arts is to music what National Geographic is to photography. The label's staff travels across the globe, recording the music they find. The fourth collection from Ellipsis Arts, "Africa: Never Stand Still," traverses the continent from the Muslim traditions of Morocco to the high life and juju of West Africa to the familiar dance sounds of South Africa. This three-disc set concentrates on contemporary African pop – the recent radio hits – rather than the traditional sounds usually found on African compilations sold in the West.

Many of the artists found here will already be familiar to American listeners from their U.S. releases and tours: South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ali Farka Toure and Oumou Sangare of Mali, and Youssou N'Dour of Senegal.

Almost all of the tracks here are upbeat dance-ready music. It is accessible and, if still exotic to Yank ears, also very listenable.

The accompanying booklet gives a brief introduction to each artist, explains the type of music each plays, and includes a photograph of each as well.

This is one of the more comprehensive introductions to modern African pop, and is a fun listen you can dance to.