This is a pioneering effort that more high level artists should have the courage to attempt. Perhaps they haven't because they don't possess the unique combination of musicianship, literacy, wit, and broad and empathic appreciation that David Byrne does. I suppose they also are afraid to go their own way with their own label, like he has.
As good as some of his songs may be, for some reason I find it hard to picture a pure pop musician like Lenny Kravitz, for instance, doing something as experimental as this..... Like the Beatles, David Byrne at his best is not only one of the most popular at what he does, he is also one of the BEST as well. And that's the real challenge for a serious pop musician, isn't it?
It is clear that Byrne has genuine respect and love for this music, as well as other forms of world music. He obviously has a better sense of humor than Peter Gabriel, however, and isn't afraid to shake his populist ... with the masses. That only makes him more appealing.
Snobs, like our Spanish writing reviewer, will see this album primarily as an Anglo intrusion, as cultural imperialism. What a shame. David Byrne has probably done more to break down barriers with his label, concerts, and other activities than almost any other major musician. David Byrne is a true fan and I'm very glad that he has enough respect for his audience to share nothing but the best. He does this live too...I saw him here in Hawaii early in 2002, and the place practically exploded with love for him.
This is not a completely perfect record. But is that really the point? The things that DO work on this record are absolutely intriguing, unique, and put on wax the exact sort of hybridity that will mark the twenty-first century and beyond.
Kudos to DB for being such a sly MF.