Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Guitar and Gun [Sterns/Earthworks, 2003]
Cut at the same time in the same studio during Ghana's chaotic early '80s, this CD condenses two old LPs but functions as a follow-up to the brave, sunny Electric Highlife comp Naxos World released in 2002. Maybe the music feels slighter and less captivating because it gives equal time to what producer and Afropop chronicler John Collins calls "gospel highlife," created by church-based ensembles whose amateurism is even more palpable than in the "concert party" and "cultural" strains. The only repeater is the most professional, and the best: F. Kenya's Guitar Band, whose four tracks here (and three there) combine loping beats, a lead voice of undeniable presence and indefinable key, and high little guitar figures scuttling along the edges of the groove. A-