Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Desert Roses and Arabian Rhythms [Mondo Melodia, 2001]
Not surprisingly, there's schlock here--English lyrics, worse horns, Trans-Global pomo, Amina Francophonie, and Sting, without whose Cheb Mami one-off this roundup of North African hitmakers wouldn't exist. There's also the signature tune from Natacha Atlas's best and only good album, the supplest Mami track I know, an unstoppable Rachid Taha bonus, the latest in Egyptian sha'bi or however you spell it, and other intense bits from a culture that's full of them, some attached to horns you can live both with and without. Rai rebels are so over. Rai professionals rool. B+