An interest in popular music outside Northern America and Western Europe starts in the folk revival era with releases by Elektra and other labels of the early sixties. Folk music looked at other cultures for inspiration and what we would later call 'World Music' was born. Labels like Decca in the UK would release dozens of albums from Western Africa in the seventies and some African records even made their way into the top forty. In the eighties artists like Malcolm McLaren and later Paul Simon would look further afield for inspiration, usually Africa, for new rhythms and the term World Music would be used as a marketing tool, lumping all these artists together, regardless of culture.
Big World Cafe would be an exercise in finding these less familiar artists and give them airtime on a Sunday afternoon. Shot at The Academy in Brixton, South London and at Westway, London. Hosts for the first series were Mariella Frostrup, Jo Shinner and Eagle Eye Cherry, while among the credits were Geoff Wonfor, Andrea Wonfor and Chris Cowey, all from The Tube. Author Vivien Goldman was also a part of the production team, while chart toppers Cold Cut provided the theme.
Starting with a menu it mixed established stars and artists from the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, but on occasion so did the Old Grey Whistle Test in the seventies but didn't resort to marketing jargon to justify it.
For the second series, beginning 17th October 1989 the show was re-
A well meaning lesson in exposing people to new music, but traditionally Western European and North American pop fans just aren't interested. Fans of Pre Fab Sprout were unlikely to be also watching the show for The Bhundu Boys.