various artists,
(Putumayo, 2001)

I've never yet been disappointed in a Putumayo CD, and their Mexico album is no exception. It's a delight from start to finish and a wonderful introduction to many Mexican musical styles. They've chosen mostly less familiar styles, though fans of mariachi will find much to like here as well.

I particularly liked Conjunto Jardin's "La Bruja," with its haunting melody that cycles back on itself, and its subtle rhythms. I also love its complete opposite, the norteño "Andan Diciendo" by Los Bravos del Norte de Ramón Ayala, with its polka instruments and beat. Lhasa's "Los Pecos" is another stunning tune -- a version of a traditional Mexican Christmas carol that combines the native, Spanish and African influences of Mexican music with a touch of Gypsy sound. And it was fun to hear a very early Los Lobos song; "Flor de Huevo" is the first song they ever wrote, and was originally recorded in 1977. It's a lively, fun piece that makes me wish for a translation of the lyrics.

The liner notes are excellent. They begin with an overview of many Mexican musical styles, particularly those featured on the album; brief, but informative. Each artist and track also has a page of information, and these add greatly to one's understanding of unfamiliar styles. All this text is supplied in both Spanish and English. The credits give information on the albums each song is from, making it easy to pursue more listening by favorite artists. This is in keeping with Putumayo's usual excellent quality.

I love this album. It acquainted me with new songs and artists in styles I like, and several new styles as well! The Boston area, where I live, doesn't have the wealth of radio options that New York does, and I rely on the world music show on the college station WERS, and on albums like this, to broaden my musical horizons. I heartily recommend Mexico to anyone interested in Mexican music beyond TV cliches -- you'll love it!

[ by Amanda Fisher ]
Rambles: 1 September 2001

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