Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to Bhangra [World Music Network, 2000]
"No padding, no `fillers,'" boast the notes. But "not every great bhangra band or artist is represented," apologizes the dedication. Which leaves the "You don't need to understand the words" part up in the air. Because we do need to understand the groove. And in the absence of sure-shot hooks, understanding comes easier to non-Punjabi speakers in the U.K., the epicenter of the Indian diaspora, where this voracious dance style links Bollywood kitchen-sink to a village thrust that long ago fused with the industrial pulse of the global metropolis. Never previously drawn to more than a stray track or two, I count this meant-to-be-definitive collection thusly: first three hits that pass all understanding, final three so fierce they need only get started, middle seven pretty engaging for a groove and language not one's own. A-