Talibanned sounds

Top 10 reasons Mullah Omar hated world beat

Women aren’t the only people coming out of the closet in Afghanistan these days after five long years of being marginalized. Kite flyers, soccer enthusiasts and musicians also are poised to make a comeback. Now that the Taliban have been told to go fly a kite, you may be wondering why they were so down on music — even Afghan song and dance. Here are our top 10 — purely speculative — reasons why the Taliban hated world beat.

10. They never got bossa nova or any of that Brazilian jazz. Rio guitarist Guinga has had his sensuous songs recorded by stars ranging from Elis Regina to Sergio Mendes, and he sounds superb solo on Cine Baronesa (Velas), a nicely paced album that allows the gentle songs’ warmth to shine through.

9. They loved to judge others — from a distance. May we suggest “Ne me jugez pas” (“Don’t Judge Me”) by Sawt el Atlas? (Are you listening, John Ashcroft?) This infectious Moroccan hit can be found in two versions — French and Arabic — on the tour de force Donia (Tinder), whose guests include Egyptian songstress Natacha Atlas.

8. They didn’t like hip-swinging. They never would’ve got down and boogied to The Rough Guide to Cumbia (World Music Network), a glorious survey of Colombia’s popular and highly unique dance music.

7. They had a thing about the British Invasion — and the Russian one too. Planet Chant (Triloka) is a moving and hypnotic exploration of the possibilities of the human voice, which includes British, Russian, Tibetan, Bulgarian, South African and Native American contributions. A veritable multilateral force.

6. They couldn’t abide people enjoying soca. Today’s most impressive player, David Rudder scores on Mondo Soca (Mondo Melodia), while Calypso elders Kitchener and Pretender also shake a leg. Rapso and raga-soca are sampled as well.

5. They despised cross-cultural pollinations. Good thing they didn’t hear ‘’Mexico (Putumayo), a great introduction to a music that has absorbed influences as diverse as European polka and Cuban son. The mariachi, ranchera and boleros found here will spice up any gathering.

4. They hated encores. Los Super Seven scored big with its first effort a few years back, and the supergroup has done it again with Canto (Columbia/Legacy). The best parts are venerable Cuban museum pieces (e.g., “Siboney”) given new life under master producer Steve Berlin’s watchful eye.’’

3. They were losers from the start, and couldn’t tolerate winners of any sort. They’d have reviled Nigerian groove-meister Femi Kuti’s funky Fight to Win (Barclay/MCA) and its frenetic invocation “The Choice Is Yours.”

2. They liked selling their followers short. Dominican Republic singer and conga player Chichi Peralta’s Grammy- winning ... De Vuelta al Barrio (Caiman) is a potent Afro/Latin/merengue fusón, whose “El Beso de Judas” (“The Judas Kiss”) seems well-timed in view of recent revelations.

1. They really hated strong women. Bare-faced (not to mention bare-footed) Cape Verdean diva Cesario Evora would’ve driven them right over the edge with Sao Vicente (BMG/Windham Hill). Her cigarette-and-cognac-soaked voice has been compared to Billie Holiday’s, yet she didn’t make her first album or video until she was 47. By that age, bin Laden’s video career was over.

Thanks to Mullah McCoy for research assistance. For further world beat information and archives, visit John C. Falstaff’s website at www.pd.org/~jcf.??