Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues [Soundway, 2008]
Knowledgeable compiler Miles Cleret says no concept here, just a bunch of records he didn't want to die, and more power to him. Beyond Celestine Ukwu and Sir Victor Uwaifo, none of the 26 artists was in my recall vocabulary, including Mono Mono and the Funkees, who I'd failed to notice on 2001's Nigeria 70 funk comp. But from the retooled folk tunes on the trad extreme to the Afrobeat on the prog, most of Cleret's treasures are winning, probably because highlife controls the middle--though horns sound occasionally. Anglophony does push the Yoruba and Ibo aside now and then. But the focus is always Nigerian. As Cleret translates Mono Mono: "Don't teach us our own culture; this has been our way for ages and we know it best." Which must be why they feel free to interpret funk to mean a few Ernie Isley moves. A-