Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Royal Band de Thiés: Kadior Demb [Teranga Beat, 2012]
The angel is an Athenian photographer and mad Afropop crate digger named Adamantios Kafetzis, who seems to run Teranga Beat pretty much by himself. In the case of this early mbalax unit from the now disused railway hub where Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of Wood is set, there turned out to be multiple reels, with this circa-1979 title the first of several unreleased albums. The Royal Band aren't Baobab or Super ?toile, not Kafetzis's Gambian discovery Karantamba either. But their projected debut is intense, gorgeous, and hyperactive without rushing the climax once. With gruff mbalax shouter Secka, still in the vocal ambit of Baobab's dearly departed Laye M'Boup, balanced by high, sweet natural salsero James Gadiaga, who on this record sticks to mbalax's tamas-and-horn-stabs program, they suggest that Baobab and Super ?toile weren't just two very different great bands. They led and inspired a scene. A-