Various Artists: Putumayo World Music 10th Anniversary Collection

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Various Artists: Putumayo World Music 10th Anniversary Collection

Putumayo was started by Dan Storper in 1993 and created its own niche by selling its compilation CDs primarily in Storper’s Putumayo chain of clothing stores. Storper’s goal was to promote intercultural awareness and provide an upbeat retail experience by marketing compilations of music “guaranteed to make you feel good” and maybe inspire you to buy more exotic clothing. The label slowly tapped into traditional distribution channels and in 1998 became a full-service record company signing Ricardo Lemvo, Mariam Makeba, Habib Koité and Oliver Mtukudzi. Most frequently criticized for its “world music lite” approach, Putamayo seldom offers anything on its compilations that’s going to shock your sensibilities. On the other hand, the label’s introduced Americans to unique artists like Seattle’s Afro-Celtic folkie Laura Love, Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi and Brazil’s Chico César, a true musical eccentric. The label’s 10th anniversary collection has the same strengths and weaknesses as their other compilations, there’s nothing weak here but few tracks jump out at you. Exceptions include Kotoja’s funky Afrobeat rocker “Sawalé,” Ricardo Lemvo’s “Mambo Yo Yo” and “Val’ Carretero,” a simmering song from New York’s Chico Alvarez and his Afro-Caribe Band.

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