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Year-End Close-Out

We've got 1998's best albums in stock, but they're going fast.

Sierra Maestra
Tibiri Tabara
(World Circuit/Nonesuch)

A Cuban outfit that's been around for more than two decades, Sierra Maestra wants only to make dancers sway, spin and smile, and with its latest, it manages to do just that. The music is bright, the vocalists (there are five of them) are a torrid lot, and the rhythms make sitting still while listening an extremely difficult proposition. Sheer joy on disc.

Tom Ze
Fabrication Defect
(Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)

Ze is a veteran performer from Brazil whom David Byrne brought to light shortly after founding Luaka Bop--and for this, the no-longer Talking Head should be showered with admiration. On his new album, Ze comes across like a South American Captain Beefheart, assembling a one-of-a-kind sound from apparently incongruous elements. There's nothing wrong with Fabrication Defect: It works on its own terms--as do all the best albums from 1998.

Visit www.westword.com to hear sound samples from many of the recordings reviewed above.

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