Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to the Music of Egypt [World Music Network, 2003]
The field is vast, vast--Cairo has been the cultural capital of the Middle East since the dawn of recording. And though the compiler is Yalla: Hitlist Egypt's David Lodge, the logic is unusually impenetrable: neither of Yalla's hard youth styles, no Faudel or Umm Kulthum, two tracks each for current superstars Angham and Amr Diab, plenty of classicists and also plenty of Nubians. Yet keynoted by Angham's irresistible "Leih Sebtaha," which dates all the way back to 2001, its intense, tradition-steeped politesse holds it together as it leaps not just decades but generations. A-