Ty Burr
December 21, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Rai Rebels, Vol. 2: Pop Rai & Rachid Style

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Various Artists
Producers
Earthworks, Virgin
genre
World

We gave it a B+

When ethnic music appropriates Western rock styles, the indigenous sound often gets buried under a ton of tacky disco effects: The carefully manufactured lambada craze was a good example of world music at its most wild-and-crazy-guy commercial. But Rai, the North African dance music that swept the Middle East in the ’80s, is one of the exceptions that prove the rule. The eight songs on Rai Rebels Volume Two come at you like dazzling hothouse flowers, with fleet-footed music by producer Rachid Baba Ahmed, and intoxicating vocals by such Algerian superstars as Cheb Khaled and Cheb Hamid (”Cheb” is an all-purpose honorific roughly translating as ”Kid”). While the cuts may sound a little similar to the first-time Rai listener, they all feel as ancient as a Moslem call to prayer and as modern as this week’s Top 40. B+

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