Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Orchestra Super Mazembe: Giants of East Africa [Earthworks, 2002]
These are the Zairean émigrés whose early-'80s soukousification of the Kenyapop classic "Shauri Yako" takes Guitar Paradise of East Africa over the top at track seven. Situated in the same position here, the song's thoughtful melody and surprisingly undemonstrative guitar don't work as much magic, because Mazembe are giants, not angels, and "Shauri Yako" is merely the greatest hit of a band centered around a sparkling-not-stellar guitarist. They can't top it or even equal it. But they're worthy of it every time. Listen for Lovy Longomba, a/k/a "ya Mama," who's so high-voiced he takes the wife's part once. Listen for the dabs of horn. What the hell, listen for the guitar. A-