Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

African Pearls: Senegal 70: Musical Effervescence [Syllart, 2009]
I've heard plenty of salsa-influenced pre-mbalax from Senegal's second decade, with its brash interplay of rough and sweet, clave and tama, roots and dreams. But lacking verbal cues, I don't recall individual songs that well, so I'm pleased to report that after examining my library and perusing notes in inelegant French and illiterate English, I'm impressed by how few duplications pop up on this 26-track double-CD--and also by the quality of rarities like Orchestra Baobab's Parisian Arsenio Rodriguez cover "Juana" and JB-channeling "Kelen Ati." The vocal intensity will surprise no one familiar with Youssou's warm up posse or Baobab's panoply of frontmen, and it's good to attach audible presences to celebrated names like Pape Seck and El Hadje Faye. It's also good to hear winners unknown in these parts, like Xalam's explosively retro "Da´da." A-