Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing [Luaka Bop, 2005]
A canny idea, packaging vaguely countercultural early-'70s Afropop as psychedelia rather than funk. That way the shambling trap drums and casual solos are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And though none of these bands could have rocked Woodstock's socks off like the Family Stone or Ten Years After, nobody wore socks at Woodstock anyway. Charming at worst and captivating at best, sometimes mild and sometimes wild, the sources range from Cameroon and Nigeria up to Mali, crossing the treacherous boundaries between Anglophone and Francophone, jungle and desert--as if west-central Africa, at least, is all one place. Not that the music's homogeneous, although there's a cheesiness to the guitars that the hotshots down in Kinshasa would have laughed out of town. But it shares a mood--postcolonial hopes inflamed by news of a world cultural revolution that would soon succumb to the economics of enforced scarcity. The high point is William Onyeabor's "Better Change Your Mind," which calmly warns Western nations including Canada and Cuba not to "think this world is yours." It seems Africa didn't have what it took to back Onyeabor up. We shall see. A-