Live at WOMAD 1982

Various Artists

Released 29 July 2022

  1. The Musicians of the Nile - Tabla Iqae
  2. The Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom
  3. Pigbag - Big Bag
  4. The Drummers of Burundi - Kama K’iwacu
  5. Peter Gabriel - I Have the Touch
  6. Robert Fripp - WOMAD II [CD/LP only]
  7. Tian Jin Music and Dance Ensemble - Raindrops Pattering on Banana Leaves
  8. Echo and the Bunnymen - Zimbo (with the Royal Burundi Drummers) [CD/LP only]
  9. The Musicians of the Nile - Taksim Arghul
  10. Salsa de Hoy - Salsa de Hoy
  11. Rip Rig & Panic - You’re My Kind of Climate
  12. Mark Springer - Key Release
  13. The Chieftains - Cotton-Eyed Joe
  14. Simple Minds - Promised You a Miracle [CD/LP only]
  15. Ekome - Gahu
  16. Peter Hammill - A Ritual Mask
  17. Peter Gabriel featuring Ekome - Biko
  18. Sasono Mulyo - Gamelan Gong Kebyar [bonus track - CD/Digital only]
  19. Prince Nico Mbarga with the Ivory Coasters - Wayo In-law [bonus track - CD/Digital only]

Various Artists

Liner notes

To those who were there and are no longer here, we miss you: Barrington Anderson (Ekome), Jonathan Arthur (WOMAD co-founder), Peter de Freitas (Echo And The Bunnymen), Alan James (Great Friend).

On the 15th of July 1982 I was dropped into the 240-acre Bath and West Showground, Somerset, after spending eighteen months with fellow co-founders organising a seminal event, with five stages and sixty bands, from over twenty countries. I ran around for several hours, before I was handed a walkie-talkie the size of shoebox. Breathe.

In October 1980 Thomas and I interviewed Peter Gabriel for our vinyl-with-magazine creation, The Bristol Recorder, later The Recorder. Peter generously gave us previously unreleased tracks for our record. After the interview we talked about a tape of Indonesian gamelan music that I had in my pocket, Thomas’s experience of South American music and Peter’s work with rhythms from various African countries. Peter called us soon after with an idea: to acknowledge the influence of non-Western music on successful Western bands and musicians and to create a wider audience for that music, by combining both in the same event — a festival celebrating music as a universal language.

Ekome rehearse with Peter Gabriel before their show at WOMAD 1982. Photo credit: Larry Fast.

The process was entirely new to us. The largest events we had done were promotions of local bands, in local venues. There were far fewer large festivals at that time. In continental Europe non-Western arts were showcased in government-funded buildings. The Drummers of Burundi and the Qawwali legends the Sabri Brothers were an early inspiration. We visited the Dartington Gamelan and played ineptly on the beautiful percussive instruments — although I have to say Peter was pretty good.

UNESCO, UNICEF, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Commonwealth Institute helped us. When we consulted the Extra-European Arts Committee in Amsterdam, some of them stated plainly that it was mad to imagine that an audience would assemble in a field to experience music so little-known in England at that time. ‘Mad’, for us, metamorphosed into Music, Arts and Dance. With the addition of World Of, WOMAD was coined. We reckoned that WOMAD was both sayable and memorable.

The WOMAD Foundation grew from an education programme conceived early in the process. Peter was enthusiastic about inspiring the young. Sarah Flint and I visited over 100 schools in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire, coordinated the creation of a free 10-booklet teaching pack, and arranged workshops. The festival was free for schools and approximately 4,500 children attended on the first day, for performances and workshops.

A huge procession of children opened the festival, wearing masks and wielding musical instruments made with the help of the teaching pack. Giant Indonesian puppets, created by Welfare State International, led them to the main stage. I was recruited as emergency MC and improvised desperately until the procession arrived.

Tian Jin Music and Dance Ensemble at WOMAD 1982. Photo credit: Chris Greenwood.

The Drummers of Burundi, whose rhythms had been appropriated by mainstream Western music, now unleashed a heart-wrenching sound: a steady, deep beat from the drums on their heads, stepping in stately procession, sticks whirling in synchronisation with the beat and their feet. The overwhelming thrum moved the air itself, exerting visceral force on the diaphragm; a sublime, profoundly human sound that moves me, even now, to tears. If a World of Music was born that day in Somerset, then this sound was the quickening heartbeat of that world.

The rhythm infected the audience like a benevolent plague. As twilight came, audience members began to file into one of the large, terraced stands in the Showground, playing any instrument or object that could make a sound, including the metal and wood of the stand itself. Torch beams swept and scanned the surreal scene, highlighting faces, and hands in blurred motion. People played through the night in spontaneous relays, until there was a danger of the stand disintegrating.

The Drummers of Buruni at WOMAD Festival in 1982

Musical collaborations proliferated. Echo And The Bunnymen became Echo And The Burundi Men. Ekome, the national West African Drum and Dance ensemble from Bristol, accompanied Peter in a most poignant version of ‘Biko’. Across the site, musicians were experimenting on and offstage. The Musicians of the Nile were everywhere; when not performing, they sold instruments spread out on embroidered cloths on the ground. Sasono Mulyo flooded the senses with a polyphony of chiming percussion from the gamelan orchestra; bright ritual costumes and hands fluttering like birds; eloquent gestures dividing the air in swoops and gyres. One journalist wrote of hearing English church bells anew as she left the site: echoes across cultures, sympathetic sounds.

And then it was over.

The NME headline proclaimed ‘WOMAD Brilliant but Bust’. Despair.

Initially, there was opposition to WOMAD at Parish Council meetings in the nearest village, Evercreech. Mr. Paradise, headmaster of the Primary School, expressed concern that his pupils would be menaced by invading hippies. Nevertheless, his school attended. Sitting among the wreckage of our dream, I opened a letter: the Evercreech children had loved WOMAD. The headmaster was very sorry he had opposed the festival and would welcome our return: it was a letter from Paradise, blessing WOMAD.

Words by Stephen Pritchard, WOMAD Co-Founder

Further Listening

  • Live at WOMAD 1985

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

    Released 23 July 2019

    A remarkable record of a magical event that changed the perception of Sufi music to a wider audience and set Nusrat on a path to international recognition of his genius. The power and beauty of Nusrat’s voice comes rushing back through the years and lifts us up to the ecstatic heights of Sufi expression.
  • 30 – Real World at WOMAD

    Various Artists

    Released 29 July 2012

    The symbiotic relationship between WOMAD and Real World Records was apparent from day one. When, in 1989, the record label was born, it immediately joined its seven-year-old big sister in the vanguard of introducing the world's finest music to our ears.

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