Various Artists Putumayo Presents World Hits Review

Compilation. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

While World Hits might unite artists from across the globe, the end result is devoid...

Robert Jackman 2007

It was never a comfortable partnership: Mick Jagger, then enfant terrible of Middle England, and Peter Tosh, uncompromising political activist and former guitarist of the Wailing Wailers. The jittery front man of The Rolling Stones alongside the author of 1976’s totemic Legalize It – a veritable messiah to the stoned and the rolling.


It’s their 1978 collaboration – the unconvincing “(You Gotta Walk) Don’t Look Back” – which has been dragged from the vaults to spearhead World Hits, a disappointing offering from the usually shrewd Putumayo.


While World Hits might unite artists from across the globe, the end result is devoid of the diversity and artistry you would have hoped for. To explain why is to uncover the most troubling thing about this release – the unshakable western dominance.


The evidence is everywhere: Take the reticent time signatures or the sadly conformist song structures. Geographically, the title World Hits might not deceive, but, on a musical level, there’s no doubt that the emphasis is on chart success, rather than worldly intrigue.


Tracks like “Seven Seconds” serve to confirm this. Traditionally billed as a collaboration between Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour, to the musically knowledgeable, the Senegalese crooner’s input feels suspiciously scripted. It wouldn’t be overly cruel to call it a cameo.


It’s quite a novelty: a Putumayo album that suffers from an air of insincerity and feels distinctively manufactured. In the realm of world music, commercial success has never been much of an indicator. World Hits is most unlikely to shake that belief.

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