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Album Of The Year

Albums Of 2008

The 22nd Annual fRoots Critics Poll is the definitive look at the best albums of the year in world folk & roots musics. We badgered an international panel of more than 300 and this year’s winners are… Jim Moray’s Low Culture and Franco’s Francophonic.

Since our annual Critics Poll began in 1986, it has steadily grown in stature. In 2001 it was incorporated into the BBC Radio 3 Awards For World Music and provided the Album Of The Year nominations for the next seven years.

Following Radio 3’s decision to axe their awards this year, we got together with the other ex-partners in them – Songlines, Serious, Rough Guides, Womex and various BBC people – to see how things could best be carried forwards. The unanimous verdict was that the fRoots Critics Poll should be supported by everybody as the de facto industry Albums Of The Year. Meanwhile, Songlines and Womad are collaborating on some new artist awards voted for by the public and again will have cross-industry support. Unity is power!

This year we made a major change and decided for the first time to go the route of other major awards like the Mercury Music Prize and announce the front runners as nominees. We did that here in mid-November – alphabetically listing the top 10 new albums and top 6 reissue, compilation or historic CDs, which promptly got some fevered speculation going. It also allowed our new associates Amazon UK to put up a mini-site within theirs, clearly giving benefit to a wider range of worthy albums than just the winners. Forwards in all directions!

Happily, BBC Radio 3 agreed to continue supporting the fRoots Critics Poll Albums Of The Year, and the winners were exclusively revealed by Charlie Gillett on World On 3 on 5th December. Here, you can find out all the year’s releases which gained significant votes from our international panel – we approach over 300 people with the knowledge including journalists, radio presenters, activists, event organisers, musicians and more.

The usual process applied. They nominated up to six New Albums Of 2008 (newly recorded single artist or band CDs) which produced the fRoots Critics Award for Album Of The Year. Then they picked up to four CDs in our Reissues/Compilations/ Historic section – collections of old or new material (anything that would be listed as ‘Various Artists’), reissues of older recordings and that newer animal, the remix album. And they could also nominate two beautiful artefacts in our Best Packaged Album category. Everything nominated got one point – we don’t ask our panel to order their preferences – and on the odd occasion where they misinterpreted guidance and voted in the wrong category, we simply accumulated all the votes in the correct one.

The main provisos in all the categories were that the albums should have been first released since November 2007, though we do allow a bit of slack provided they weren’t listed last year too. Inevitably some suffer from when they become available – for example enough people had voted for Chris Wood’s Trespasser last year that it made the lower regions of 2007’s list and thus was ineligible this year, whereas a slightly earlier cut-off date for the Radio 2 Folk Awards means it’s in with a very good chance in their 2008 event. And of course we require that albums fall into the areas of music we cover in fRoots – music from anywhere with roots in a tradition, and we ask people to not vote for their own products. For those of an anoraknoid tendency, you can download a PDF of how people voted individually.

This year, the fRoots Critics Poll is presented in association with Amazon UK.

Amazon
Click on the individual albums to go direct to their page at Amazon UK
If you follow the click through to Amazon from the links here and buy anything at their usual excellent prices, fRoots will receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you, and helps to support the resources on this web site.


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Album Winner 2008

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New Album Of 2008 winners

1. Jim Moray Low Culture (NIAG)
2. Toumani Diabate The Mandé Variations (World Circuit)
3. Rokia Traore Tchamantché (Nonesuch/Tama)
4. Umalali The Garifuna Women’s Project (Cumbancha)
5. Kasai Allstars Congotronics 3: In The 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy By Magic (Crammed)
6. Bellowhead Matachin (Navigator)
7. Issa Bagayogo Mali Koura (Six Degrees)
8. Eliza Carthy Dreams Of Breathing Underwater (Topic)
9. Taksim Trio Taksim Trio (Doublemoon)
10. Natacha Atlas & The Mazeeka Ensemble Ana Hina (World Village)

The Next 10:
11=Dub Colossus A Town Called Addis (Real World)
      Mary Hampton My Mother’s Children (Navigator)
      Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80 Many Things (Tôt Ou Tard)
      Rajery, Ballaké Sissoko & Driss El Maloumi 3MA (Contre-Jour)
15=Buika Niña De Fuego (Warner Spain Classics & Jazz)
      Spiers & Boden Vagabond (Navigator)
17=Lila Downs Shake Away (EMI)
      Melingo Maldito Tango (Mañana)
      Warsaw Village Band Infinity (Jaro)
      Mariza Terra (EMI Portugal)

Runners Up (alphabetically): Amadou & Mariam Welcome To Mali (Because); Les Amazones De Guinée Wamato (Stern’s); Saban Bajramovic with Mostar Sevdah Reunion Saban (Snail); Debashish Bhattacharya Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey (Riverboat); Blue Blokes 3 Stubble (Fledg’ling); Carolina Chocolate Drops Heritage (DixieFrog); Chumbawamba The Boy Bands Have Won (No Masters); Mercan Dede 800 (Doublemoon); DeVotchKa A Mad & Faithful Telling (Anti); Chris Foster Outsiders (Green Man); Mor Karbasi The Beauty & The Sea (Mintaka); Kries Kocijani (Kopito); Jackie Oates The Violet Hour (Chudleigh Roots); Ivo Papasov Dance Of The Falcon (World Village); Karine Polwart Fairest Floo’er (Hegri Music); Rupa & The April Fishes Extraordinary Rendition (Cumbancha); Terakaft Akh Issudar (Tapsit/IRL); Riccardo Tesi Presente Remoto (Felmay); Huong Thanh & Nguyen Lê Fragile Beauty (ACT); Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet (Nettwerk).



Album Of The Year
Way back in 1990, we were all rather taken by surprise when the fRoots Album Of The Year poll was won by a set of recordings from the 1930s, the beautiful CD box set of the complete works of blues giant Robert Johnson. So to keep the main attention on new recordings but at the same time recognise the increasing excellence of reissues, compilations and historic projects, we introduced a second section for those the following year. Technological advances since then have meant that some extraordinary, exhilarating and influential sets have been released since those days, and this past year was no exception – the winner being a massively important African 2-CD retrospective, and the top handful including a legendary folk rock recording that took more than 30 years to complete, a unique historic concert, and the compiled early albums of an English folk icon.

In this section it’s any form of compilation by genre or artist, any reissues or first-time issues of older recordings (even when including some new material), local licences of albums which have appeared elsewhere in previous years, any remix albums, and all ‘various artist’ compilations (whether new or reissue). In the case of a named/ themed series of albums released individually, people can vote for the entire series as one nomination provided that they were all released in the past year, whilst ongoing additions to previously commenced series should be voted for individually (this year, for example, that applied to ongoing series like the Free Reed Revival Masters and The Syliphone Years).

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1. Franco & Le TPOK Jazz Francophonic (Stern’s)
2. Fotheringay Fotheringay 2 (Fledg’ling)
3. Peter Bellamy Fair England’s Shore (Fellside)
4. Various Desert Blues 3: Entre Dunes & Savanes (Network)
5. Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall (World Circuit)
6. Gabi Lunca Sounds From A Bygone Age Vol. 5 (Asphalt Tango)

The Next 10:
7. Various African Scream Contest (Analog Africa)
8. Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs: Bootleg Series Vol. 8 (Columbia)
9. Various African Pearls: Congo 70 Rumba Rock (Syllart)
10. Shirley & Dolly Collins The Harvest Years (EMI)
11=Various Arriba La Cumbia! (Crammed Discs)
      Various Princes Among Men: Journeys With Gypsy Musicians (Asphalt Tango)
      Various Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan (Ace)
14=Balla Et Ses Balladins The Syliphone Years (Stern’s)
      Various Big Blue Ball (Real World)
      Various Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-76 (Soundway)

Runners Up (alphabetically): Robin & Barry Dransfield Popular To Contrary Belief (Free Reed); A L Lloyd Ten Thousand Miles Away: English & Australian Folk Songs (Fellside); Samba Mapangala & Virunga African Classics (Sheer); John Martyn Ain’t No Saint (Island); Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou The Vodoun Effect (Analog Africa); The Pogues The Pogues Box Set: Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say… Pogue Mahone! (Rhino); Rail Band Belle Epoque Volume 2: Mansa (Stern’s); Sir Victor Uwaifo Guitar-Boy Superstar 1970-76 (Soundway); Various BalkanBeats Vol. 3 (Eastblok Music); Various Black Stars: Ghana’s Hiplife Generation (OutHere); Various Cafe De Los Maestros (Wrasse); Various Give Me Love: Songs Of The Brokenhearted, Baghdad 1925-1929 (Honest Jon’s); Various In The Pines: Tar Heel Folk Songs & Fiddle Tunes – Old-Time Music Of North Carolina 1926-1936 (Old Hat); Various The Roots Of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru (Barbès); Various Sound Of The World Presents Beyond The Horizon (Warner Classics & Jazz); Various Take Me To The River (Ace); Various The Very Best Of Hugh Tracey (SWP); Hank Williams The Unreleased Recordings (Time Life).



Packaging Winner 2008

In these days of downloads, it’s quality packaging that can make a big difference to whether you buy the CDs or the files. Artistic skill can produce a thing of beauty, along with enhancing the listening pleasure by providing ambience and information. What was an object of desire or wonder in the last year?

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1. Franco & Le TPOK Jazz Francophonic (Stern’s)
2=Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall (World Circuit)
     Various Victrola Favorites: Artifacts From Bygone Days
     (Dust-To-Digital)
4. Melingo Maldito Tango (Mañana)
5. Jim Moray Low Culture (NIAG)
6. Bellowhead Matachin (Navigator)

Runners Up (alphabetically): Rabih Abou-Khalil Em Português (Enja); Mercan Dede 800 (Doublemoon); Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs: Bootleg Series Vol. 8 (Columbia); The Shee Different Season (Shee Records); Spiers & Boden Vagabond (Navigator); Sir Victor Uwaifo Guitar-Boy Superstar 1970-76 (Soundway); Various African Scream Contest (Analog Africa); Various Desert Blues 3: Entre Dunes & Savanes (Network); Various Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-76 (Soundway); Various Take Me To The River (Ace)

 

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