Back in 1980, Peter Gabriel was discussing musical options with the staff of The Bristol Recorder; an album-slash-magazine who had asked him for an interview and a few live tracks for their publication. One thing led to another and they both began hypothesizing a musical festival where musicians from around the world could gather. By 1982 WOMAD: The World of Music Art and Dance was born and Gabriel had held the festival in his local Bath environs with musicians arriving from 20 countries to perform for the event.
The bills for the festival nearly killed it at the very start. Such an audacious prospect got some help from the 2xLP released filled with performances from the various performers who were either there or donating their tracks to show solidarity for the effort. I used to have a copy of this album that was in pretty bad shape. My copy was in a 25¢ bin and was missing the 2nd disc. It was so beat up that I soon simply threw it away. While the royalties from the sale of this LP didn’t hurt, it was ultimately down to the reunion of Gabriel and Genesis for a one-off concert in England where his former bandmates made the generous offer to put the festival back in the black. It must have worked, because there have been a steady stream of WOMAD festivals all over the world as the concept has grown and prospered over time.
I was always disappointed by “Music + Rhythm” since it was studio recordings. Largely by musicians who were not even performing at the actual festival. Forty years later, this has finally been addressed, and now a CD/2xLP will be released on July 29th on the 40th anniversary of the first such event. And it has some favorites mixed in with the largely African [but even Japanese] musicians who formed the backbone of the event.
Various: Live At WOMAD 1982 – UK – CD 
- The Musicians of the Nile: Tabla Iqae (live at WOMAD 1982)
- The Beat: The Beat: Mirror in the Bathroom (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Pigbag: Pigbag: Big Bag (live at WOMAD 1982)
- The Drummers of Burundi: Kama K’iwacu (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Peter Gabriel: I Have the Touch (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Robert Fripp: WOMAD II (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Tian Jin Music and Dance Ensemble: Raindrops Pattering on Banana Leaves (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Echo and The Bunnymen: Zimbo (with the Royal Burundi Drummers [live at WOMAD 1982]
- The Musicians of the Nile: Taksim Arghul (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Salsa de Hoy: Salsa de Hoy (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Rip Rig & Panic: You’re My Kind of Climate (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Mark Springer: Key Release (live at WOMAD 1982)
- The Chieftains: Cotton-Eyed Joe (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Simple Minds: Promised You a Miracle (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Ekome: Gahu (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Peter Hammill: A Ritual Mask (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Peter Gabriel with Ekome: Biko (live at WOMAD 1982)
- The Ivory Coasters feat. Prince Nico Mbarga: Wayo In-law (live at WOMAD 1982)
- Sasono Mulyo: Gamelan Gong Kebyar (live at WOMAD 1982)
There are a lot of favorites tucked in there: Peter Gabriel, The Beat, Rip Rig + Panic. And is there anyone who wouldn’t love to hear Echo + The Bunnymen live with The Royal Burundi Drummers?! The CD is in the Real World Bandcamp store for £10.99 and the 2xLP for £22.99 currently in pre-order. I’m gratified that we can now, finally hear performances from this precedent setting festival that has persisted and broadened horizons for the last 40 years. The 2022 WOMAD festival will be happening on July 28-31 in five weeks! If this classic live concert calls out to you then hit that button and make it so.
WOMAD USA was held not quite an hour from where I live here in Seattle. Saw so many great sets, discovered a lot of fantastic music, and it was almost always around my birthday as well. I miss WOMAD. A fantastic festival.
postpostmoderndad – How lucky for you! You got two years of WOMAD in 1998 and 2001. The last one being the last one on American soil.