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How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of
Our House and Made
It Their Home
From 1989 until 2009, I wrote a column for the Los Angeles-based The Beat magazine on world music. At the time I started writing for the magazine, it mostly covered reggae and African music, but partly due to my Technobeat column, The Beat expanded to covering world music as well.
The reason I chose to write reviews of obscure Finnish, Bulgarian, Indonesian and other genres at the time rather than covering Caribbean and Latin American music was that my ignorance wouldn't be so obvious. Few experts on Finno-Ugric styles read The Beat, so I could be bold in my misstatements.
The 1990s turned out to be a great era for reviewing world music. Some of the brightest talents were on the ascent, including Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal, and legendary Congolese and Nigerian musicians continued to release new material. It was also a time when American, British, and European labels brought many classic West African and Congolese albums to CD.
The Beat ceased publication in 2009, and while I was sorry to see it go, I found myself increasingly uninterested in the world music that was being released. Record labels were far less adventurous than they had been in the past, due to the deep decline in the record industry as a whole. And hip hop-based foreign music was a whole lot less attractive to me than the rock- and big band-based music of the past.
Around 15 years worth of my music columns are posted on my Technobeat website. The columns probably contain around 1,000 of my individual reviews of world music albums, and people continue to use the site. It's old and creaky, and I don't see myself updating it anytime soon, since it would be a huge effort to redesign so many pages. So if you don't mind looking past the outdated look and format, you may find good things to read by myself and my friend Dave Hucker, whose brilliant Hey Mr. Music column for The Beat is also hosted on my site. He reviews tons of albums in his column. You'll also find some superbly entertaining accounts by Dave of his travels through Africa and elsewhere.
Without my experience writing for The Beat, it is doubtful that I would ever have found the confidence to attempt to write my first book, Enslaved by Ducks. And a big thanks goes to my former editor CC Smith, who let me write about our pets in Technobeat as often as I wanted to.
Check out the Technobeat site and discover some amazing artists you may never have heard of before.