Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Consumer Guide Album

Afro Latin Via Kinshasa [Syllart Productions/Discograph, 2011]
Instead of a puzzle, the concept's Kinshasa edition gives us a solution. Cuban music was largely Congolese to begin with, and Congo's liquid Lingala lingua franca lubricated its foward motion where guttural Wolof brought out its stops and starts. Moreover, all but two of these 39 tracks are by just four artists: paterfamilias Grand Kallé, Brussels upstart Docteur Nico, and--with 22 between them--our old friends Franco and Rochereau. It's good to have so much Kallé and Nico in one place, though they clearly deserve overviews of their own. But such is the magnitude of the other two's legacy that only one of Rochereau's tracks is duplicated on his Sterns twofer from the same period, and none on Franco's (though there is one from his earlier and less essential Originalité). Chronologically the range is narrower and earlier than on the Dakar set. Demographically it's identified in the notes as upper-crust for Kallé's more sophisticated arrangements and anything but for Franco's cruder and more brilliant output. Guess so, but Kallé at his sweetest never hints at the dignity of the statelier Dakar grooves. Maybe the difference is Islam, or the rain forest, or happenstance. At this distance, we'll really never know. With this music, we're really not supposed to care. A-