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The Beat Goes (Back) On!

We are very pleased and proud to announce a new feature at Afropop.org : reprints of selected articles from the late, lamented ma...

December 21, 2009

From Ted Boothroyd, reviewer, reader and fan

Listening this afternoon to the beautiful music of Orchestra Baobab, I tried to estimate how much my musical education has owed, over many years, to one small and unassuming magazine. Not that The Beat was the only influence on my tastes and buying habits; there were other periodicals here and there, along with radio and books. But The Beat was the constant; it led the way and provided the primary buying guide for Pirates Choice and a multitude of other extraordinary albums that now surround my cd player.

My utter trust in what I read in The Beat arose both from the authority exhibited by the magazine as a whole, and from the credibility and intelligence of the editor and individual writers. Those elements are not going to be easily replaced. When I read on the Web somewhere that "This album is fuckin’ awesome," well, I’m not persuaded, to put it mildly. There’s no guidance, no information, no wit, no nothing.

So, in this age of democratization of everything, when we’re constantly being told "your opinion matters," regardless of whether we have any knowledge of the subject, perhaps being authoritative is unexcusably passé. But I for one respect and require it, which means I’ll now simply have to expand my awareness of sources of truly authoritative opinions on world music.

In the meantime, I know that although music journalism is faltering, good music will continue to be made. The Beat is dead. Long live the beat.

- Ted Boothroyd

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