Best World Music of All Time – The Critics’ Picks

[Note: I collected 10 lists of ‘best world music of all time’ from books, magazines and websites and combined them into one list by giving an album one point for each original source list it was on.  No album was on more than seven of the original 10 source lists.  I have listed every album that was on at least two of the original source lists, along with country of origin.]

7
Buena Vista Social Club     Buena Vista Social Club (1997)  Cuba

6
Astor Piazzolla     Tango: Zero Hour (1986)  Argentina

5
Orchestra Baobab     Pirates Choice (1992)  Senegal
King Sunny Adé     Juju Music (1982)  Nigeria
Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir    Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (1987)  Bulgaria 

4
Cesária Évora   Miss Perfumado (1992)  Cape Verde
Cesária Évora   Cesaria Evora (1995)  Cape Verde
Youssou N’Dour   Immigrés (1988)  Senegal
Huun-Huur-Tu   The Orphan’s Lament (1994)  Tuva
Ofra Haza   Yemenite Songs (1985)  Israel  (Also known as “Fifty Gates of Wisdom.”)

 3
Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder   Talking Timbuktu (1994)  Mali
Salif Keita   Moffou (2002)  Mali
Amadou & Mariam   Dimanche à Bamako (2005)  Mali
Konono N°1   Congotronics (2005)  Dem. Rep. of Congo
Youssou N’Dour   Egypt (2004)  Senegal
Fela Kuti   The Best Best of Fela Kuti (1972-1989)  Nigeria
Waldemar Bastos   Pretaluz (1998) Angola
Various Artists   The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (1986)  South Africa
Susana Baca   Susana Baca (1997)  Peru
Tito Puente   Dance Mania (1958)  Puerto Rico
Ernest Ranglin   Below the Bassline (1996)  Jamaica
Juan Luis Guerra y 4.40   Bachata rosa  (1990)  Dominican Republic
The Balfa Brothers   Play Traditional Cajun Music – Vol I & II (1967; 1974)  Louisiana
Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra & Hariprasad Chaurasia   Call of the Valley  (1968) India
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan   En concert à Paris, Vols.1-5 (1987-1989)  Pakistan
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan   Mustt Mustt (1990)  Pakistan
Djivan Gasparyan   I Will Not Be Sad in This World (1983)  Armenia
Burhan Öçal & Istanbul Oriental Ensemble   Caravanserai (2001)  Turkey
Taraf de Haïdouks   Taraf de Haïdouks (1990-1997)  Romania
Amália Rodrigues  The Art of Amália (1952-1970)  Portugal
Mariza   Fado em Mim (2000)  Portugal
Solas   Solas (1996)  Ireland
The Chieftains   Water from the Well  (1998)  Ireland
Hedningarna   Trä (1995)  Sweden
Lo’Jo   Bohême De Cristal (2000)  France
Manu Chao   Clandestino (1998)  France/Spain
The Andy Statman Quartet   Between Heaven and Earth: Music of the Jewish Mystics (1997) Eastern Europe/Hasidic
Khaled   Sahra (1996)  Algeria
Rachid Taha   Diwân (1998)  Algeria/France 

2
أم كلثوم (Umm Kulthum, Oum Kalsoum)   The Legend: The Arab World’s Greatest Singer (1920s-1940s) Egypt
Master Musicians of Jajouka   Apocalypse Across the Sky (1992)  Morocco
Babatunde Olatunji   Drums of Passion (1960)  Nigeria
King Sunny Adé   Odu (1998)  Nigeria
Various Artists   Abayudaya: Music From the Jewish People of Uganda (2003)  Uganda
Angélique Kidjo   Black Ivory Soul (2002)  Benin
Angélique Kidjo   Oyaya! (2004)  Benin
Franco & OK Jazz   Originalité: The Original 1956 Recordings of O.K. Jazz (1956) Dem. Rep. of Congo
Various Artists   Mali: Cordes Anciennes (Ancient Strings) (1970)  Mali
Salif Keita   Amen (1991)  Mali
Ali Farka Touré   Niafunké (1999)  Mali
Tinariwen   Amassakoul (2004)  Mali
Mamadou Diabate   Behmanka (2005)  Mali
Tinariwen   Aman Iman: Water Is Life (2007)  Mali
Orchestra Baobab   Specialist in All Styles (2002)  Senegal
Baaba Maal   Firin’ in Fouta (1994)  Senegal
Youssou N’Dour   The Guide (Wommat) (1994)  Senegal
Youssou N’Dour   Nothing’s in Vain (Coono du Réér) (2002)  Senegal
Mahmoud Ahmed   Éthiopiques 7: Erè mèla mèla (1975, 1978)  Ethiopia
Various Artists   The Very Best of Éthiopiques: Hypnotic Grooves From the Legendary Series (2007)  Ethiopia
Ladysmith Black Mambazo   Raise Your Spirit Higher (2004)  South Africa
Ladysmith Black Mambazo   Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (2008)  South Africa
D’Gary   Horombe (1996)  Madagascar
Gal Costa   Gal Costa (1969)  Brazil
Elis Regina & Tom Jobim   Elis & Tom (1974)  Brazil
Milton Nascimento   Txai (1991)  Brazil
Sérgio Mendes   Brasileiro (1992)  Brazil
Caetano Veloso   Live in Bahia (2002)  Brazil
Joyce   Just a Little Bit Crazy (2003) Brazil
Seu Jorge   Cru (2004)  Brazil
Sandra Luna   Tango Varón (2003)  Argentina
Andy Palacio   Wátina (2007)  Belize
Rubén Blades   Mundo (2002)  Panama
Willie Colón & Rubén Blades   Siembra (1978)  Panama/Puerto Rico
Cheo Feliciano   Cheo (1971)  Puerto Rico
Boukman Eksperyans   Kalfou Danjere (1992)  Haiti
Various Artists   Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music (1993)  Jamaica
Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco   Celia & Johnny (1974)  Cuba/U.S.
Los Tigres del Norte   Corridos Prohibidos (1989)  Mexico/U.S.
Flaco Jimenez   Squeeze Box King (2003)  Mexico/U.S.
Various Artists   Cajun Vol. 1 Abbeville Breakdown (1929-1939)  Louisiana
Nathan Abshire   French Blues (1993)  Louisiana
Mary Jane Lamond   Suas e! (1997)  Canada
Shoukichi Kina   The Music Power From Okinawa (1991)  Japan
Shoukichi Kina   Asia Classics 2: Peppermint Tea House – The Best of Shoukichi Kina (1994)  Japan
Kodo   Live at the Acropolis (1995)  Japan
Various Artists   Indonesia: Music From the Nonesuch Explorer Series (2003)  Indonesia
The Tahitian Choir   Rapa Iti (1992)  Polynesia
Phạm Đức Thành   Vietnamese Traditional Dan Bau Music (2002)  Vietnam
The Monks of Sherab Ling Monastery   Sacred Tibetan Chant (2002)  Tibet
Jie-Bing Chen, V. M. Bhatt & Béla Fleck   Tabula Rasa (1996)  China/India/U.S.
Ali Akbar Khan   Traditional Music of India (1965)  India
L. Shankar   Raga Aberi (1995)  India
Ravi Shankar   Master of Sitar (2001)  India
Various Artists   The Rough Guide to Bollywood (2002)  India
Asha Bhosle   The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle (2003)  India
Ghazal   Lost Songs of the Silk Road (1997)  India/Iran
Севара Назархон [Sevara Nazarkhan]   Yol Bolsin (2003)  Uzbekistan
Yat-Kha   Dalai Beldiri (1999)  Tuva
Sezen Aksu   Deliveren (2000)  Turkey
Taraf de Haïdouks   Band of Gypsies (2001)  Romania
Various Artists   The Rough Guide to the Music of Greece (2001)  Greece
Spaccanapoli   Lost Souls (2000)  Italy
Radio Tarifa   Rumba Argelina (1994)  Spain
Ojos de Brujo   Barí (2002)  Spain
Mano Negra   Best of (1998)  France/Spain
Various Artists   The Rough Guide to Paris Café Music (2002)  France
Gotan Project   La revancha del tango (2001)  France/Argentina
Annbjørg Lien   Felefeber (1994)  Norway
Planxty   The Well Below the Valley (1973)  Ireland
The Bothy Band   The Bothy Band (1975)  Ireland
Tommy Peoples   High Part Of The Road (1977)  Ireland
Kevin Burke   If The Cap Fits (1978)  Ireland
Altan   Altan (1987)  Ireland
Mary Black   Babes in the Wood (1991)  Ireland
Cherish the Ladies   The Back Door (1992)  Ireland
Altan   Harvest Storm (1992)  Ireland
The Chieftains   Santiago (1996)  Ireland
Dónal Lunny   Coolfin (1998)  Ireland
Lúnasa   Redwood (2003)  Ireland

3 thoughts on “Best World Music of All Time – The Critics’ Picks

    1. beckchris Post author

      Thanks for asking. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep great notes when I was pulling the lists together, but I’ve been able to find the original sources of 8/10 of the lists: (1) Amazon.com Editors/100 Greatest; (2) My List Pad/Top Music Lists; (3) Red Orbit/10 Best; (4) Alterdestiny/10 Best; (5) Sound Roots/Top 10; (6) The Guardian/50 Essential; (7) Grammy Nominees for Best World Album; (8) World Music: 100 Essential CDs – The Rough Guide.

      Reply

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