Big hits, no plugs: the albums of 1993: World

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The magnificent Absa Gueye by the Etoile de Dakar (Stern's, London), a Senegal re-issue from 1979, featured the young Youssou N'Dour and a superb rough blend of babbling talking drum, percussive wah-wah guitar and piping alto sax, rarely equalled by N'Dour since.

Zaire, Congo and the Central African diaspora provided another stack of strong records, none more pleasing than the Zairean / Angolan Sam Mangwana's Rumba Music (Celluloid, Paris), which managed to contribute to the current mini-vogue for new African / Latin combinations. Who best represents the Anglophone Caribbean in 1993, Jamaica or Trinidad? A molestation of the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen, made the young New York 'dogamuffin' Shaggy's debut album Pure Pleasure (Greensleeves, London) a contender. But so was the compilation of classic carnival roadmarches, 16 Carnival Hits (Ice Records, London), by the great calypsonians Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener, full of wit, innuendo and breezy choruses. They take it, by a slim double entendre.

In the Francophone Caribbean, the once mighty zouk remained tame and uninspired. Much of the musical activity took place in Canada, the USA and France. Paris exile Jean-Fritzner Delmont, with Les Diplomates, provided one of the best dance records, 20 ans de Compas a Paris, in the old compas direct style, full of busy guitars, tumbling horns and hissy hi-hats.

No new salsa record beat for polished excitement the return of the Puerto Rican singer Pete 'El Conde' Rodriguez on Generaciones (Marcas Records, New York).

The Hungarian quartet Muzsikas released Maramaros, the Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania, an extremely beautiful exploration of the repertoires of the Jewish wedding bands of Central Europe.

In Greece, laika - 1950s and 1960s bouzouki pop - is currently fashionable. The rock star George Dalaras' album from the hit TV soap drama Bammena Kokkina Mallia ('Dyed Red Hair', Minos EMI, Athens) is a fine example.

The gypsy flamenco artiste Bernardo Silva's I Was Born a Gypsy by the Grace of God (Nuevos Medios, Madrid) is a joy for anyone who admires the spritzer-light jazzy 'new flamenco' but longs secretly for a deep draught of the hard stuff.

Indonesian popular music is the most distinctive in the Far East. Detty Kurnia's Coyor Panon ('Sensual Eyes', Flame Tree, London) is a meticulously recorded compendium of what's grooving in Java in 1993.

(Photograph omitted)

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