“Rough”-ing It In East Africa

Jul 23rd, 2008 // 4 Comments

roughguide.jpgEven in the MP3 age, there are CDs worth searching out–and that require the search. “O.O.P., We Did It Again” is dedicated to great albums that are criminally out of print, and that aren’t necessarily likely to become available anytime soon.

The album: The Rough Guide to the Music of Kenya and Tanzania (1996), one of the many worthwhile titles to stem from the joint efforts of World Music Network and the Rough Guide travel books.

Classic material: This one has some sentimental value for me. Back in 1997 I got nearly the entire Rough Guide CD catalogue to that date for a lengthy write-up. The Kenya and Tanzania volume struck me then as just about the best of the series, a grade-A album in large part because it worked as an album, moving from urban Kenya to rural Tanzania and making the whole thing seem like a journey, but without making a big deal out of it.

Highlights: The sequencing is especially strong on this comp, so the whole thing plays beautifully, but the best song comes early, with Victoria Kings’ “V.B. Pod Wamol” a Kenyan highlight–rapid guitars, jumpy vocals, killer beat.

Why it’s out of print: Ten years ago, it didn’t seem likely for any series to continue until today, so props to Rough Guide for continuing their good work. They’ve even arguably improved it: the compilations are, if anything, stronger now than they were then. Nevertheless, that forward movement has meant that the earlier titles have gone by the wayside to make room for new ones.

Chances it will return to print: Not great. It might be best in this case to hope WMN recycles some of these tracks for future collections, which seems fairly likely to happen.

Cost for a used copy: At this time, Amazon has only one used CD, available for a whopping $174 plus ancillary costs.

  1. exposition

    Looks like they split this into two volumes, though it appears several tracks are missing. In any case, I think these Rough Guides often approach their subject with a combination of scholarship and fun, which is all I ask.

  2. Anonymous

    Wow, I checked stock (I’m their publicist) and found a sealed copy! Guess I
    better leave it that way.

    Thanks for the words.

  3. Arthur2sheds

    The public library can be a great source for finding this kind of stuff. I just put a copy on hold.

  4. Captain Wrong

    Amazon Marketplace is so fricking dumb. If there’s only one copy of an out of print title available, the price will be sky high. More than one and it’s a race to the lowest price possible. It just cracks me up to see something like this that, quality of music aside, would be in the $2 bin at my local shop, yet someone thinks they’re going to get $174 on Amazon!

    Then again, I actually played this game once with a DVD that I picked up locally for nothing and out on Amazon for over $150. Damned if it didn’t sell! The thing wasn’t even out of print. Amazon just didn’t have it listed for whatever reason. So, what do I know?

    Sorry for the rant.

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