Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque [Strut, 2011]
The title means exactly what it says. Selected by a London dance collective called Sofrito, which is also the name of a fatback-based Puerto Rican staple, two-thirds of these 15 obscurish dance tracks are from the disco era of 1976-1980, almost all sound it a little, and all are from Africa, Colombia, and the Caribbean. Like a DJ set designed to blast rather than lure you out of your seat, they start strong, end classic, and let you sit down in the middle. Whether they achieve their pan-tropical goals is unclear; I probably prefer the African tracks--especially the Zaiko Langa Langa spinoff "Je Ne Bois Pas Beaucoup"--because I always prefer the African tracks. So let me now praise two barn burners I would never otherwise have checked out: a lead cut featuring cumbia stalwart Lisandro Meza and--from Guadeloupe, whose music generally leaves me feeling like I haven't eaten--a speedy call-and-response workout by gwo ka drummer Ti CÚleste. DJ-annotator Hugo reports that this is his crate-digging crew's most-played track. You can hear why. A-