The release of this compilation has provided a tantalizing taste of what's to come in the rumoured 12 volume collection, a prospect that's already got me salivating as I listen. This collection of very rare and vintage world music from the rich archives at EMI is of the highest calibre, on par with the few precious releases in the "Secret Museum of Mankind", other Yazoo collections, and those from the Dust to Digital, Smithsonian and Savannahphone labels. Moreover, it meets the high standards and expectations set by other Honest Jon's collections such as "Living is Hard". Let's face it; if you've found this review, you probably have some interest in vintage world music. If that's the case, you know how few and far between nicely transferred collections of unique and high quality world music are. This one is quite simply an embarrassment of riches, and goes to show just how many gems are still out there waiting to be heard again.
The disc is jam-packed with 30 songs, each originating from very different locales and providing a relatively even-handed approach to track selection. There is a good sense of ebb and flow from song to song, and the sequencing serves each song well, achieving maximum emotional/musical impact. I must also say that as a collector of this sort of music, none of the songs are repeated on other collections I've heard, and many are the strongest examples of music I've heard from their respective countries of origin. Much of the music manages to be both technically proficient and emotionally striking, and absolutely all of it is extremely engaging and captures the attention/imagination.
The packaging is nice, with a focus on visual impact and the presentation of old 78 ephemera. That said, there is no track by track info aside from the name of the song, performer, and the country of origin. A general overview is provided of the record industry from its inception in the 1880's-'90's to the 1950's, and the creation of the EMI archives from which this collection was drawn. It's not a lot of information, but the sheer quantity and quality of raw musical information on the CD provides more thought fodder than essays about it ever could. In short, if you've come to this product overview, read my review, and even given this disc a second thought, I'm certain you'll appreciate the many treasures it offers to the person with the ears to listen.