Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to Congo Gold [World Music Network, 2008]
This chronological tour of rumba-not-soukous begins with a crackly 1949 78 featuring founding father Henri Bowane and coasts home on guitar-weaving revivalist and synth-embracing neoclassicist tracks by old Franco hands Papa Noel and Madilu System. But it peaks in the middle, when Verckys' yakety sax gives way to the scrumptious Franco Volkswagen ad "Azda." Then it levels off high and gentle. With five of the 12 selections by Franco or Rochereau, who made more great records than most of us will ever know, the delights of their unknown pleasures obliterate the redundancy of "Azda" and the Rochereau-Mbilia Bel hookup. Finally the perfect complement to Celluloid's lost Hi-NRG Zaire Choc! CD. As playable as Afrocomps get. A