Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to Desert Blues [World Music Network, 2010]
The blues tag is a marketing gimmick we should all hope works. Saharan music deserves an "accessible" variant of 2004's Rough Guide to the Music of the Sahara, and if a few comparatively undistinguished minutes of Ali Farka Toure from the Niafunke delta does the trick, all the better for the scene-setting Terakaft, the humbly imperious Mariem Hassan, the male-led Euro-African women's collective Tartit, the foghorn diva Jalihena Natu, the knot-tying Tamikrest, and various masters of various instruments whose names we have trouble remembering even if we've encountered them before. The most arresting track is Tinariwen's "Tenhert," which convinced many advocates that the stage-savvy Tuaregs' latest album is their best. It's better contextualized here. A-