Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

You Can Tell the World About This: Classic Ethnic Recordings from the 1920's [Morning Star, 1986]
I slapped this world music on the turntable like it was Give 'Em Enough Rope in 1978, and the Ukrainian side-openers kept me coming back to the Welsh hymn and the Jewish cantor and the Turkish itinerant's song and the "masterful Spanish piping." But I remain a savage beast. Even if music is the goddamn universal language, it'll take more than the "commanding dynamics and engaging warmth" adduced in the vague and skimpy notes to put its dialects in meaningful contact. As it happens, the relaxed Puerto Rican Jardineras do jibe with those fiery Ukrainians, and if you believe in expressiveness for its own artistic sake you may enjoy every cut. But universalist humanism to the contrary, what differentiates the secular from the sacred and the Asian from the European is more important and more fun than what unites them. B