Big Blue Ball - Various Artists
When North America finally catches on to the fact that world beat is the popular music of the future, history will remember Britney and Justin as footnotes, but it will make a special place for Peter Gabriel if there is any justice at all. His contemporaries like Paul Simon and David Byrne have done much to promote and present international musics but it is Gabriel who time and time again has facilitated both the environment and the occasion for this music to evolve. Big Blue Ball is a compilation eighteen years in gestation. It chronicles three recording weeks over three years in the early 90's when his Real World Studios was turned into a playpen for talented musicians from around the planet (the list of well-known worldbeaters at play is long and impressive). The cross-pollinations and collaborations are truly noteworthy and in no way compromised by the lapse in time between conception and release. If anything, as the present rushes into the future, Big Blue Ball becomes even more relevant.