Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Urgent Jumping!: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics [Sterns, 2016]
Twenty-five years ago, Trevor Herman compiled Guitar Paradise of East Africa, 11 dance tracks from Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that joined up to form the most glorious of all his Earthworks Afrocomps--which because he bollocksed the licensing is long out of print. Compiled by DJ-impresario John Armstrong, this double-CD of 27 Nairobi dance tracks looks like it could be a replacement, but we should be so lucky. Herman's selections tend '80s with none earlier than 1978, Armstrong's '70s with none later than 1982. Herman sticks to soukous variants that average a minute longer than Armstrong's eclectic selections. And Herman is a record man with commercial instincts, where Armstrong is a preservationist too deep inside the music to execute the hard choices that hone great best-ofs to the quick. Hence these enjoyable and often striking finds are seldom joyous or scintillating. Tellingly, Armstrong cheats a little on the only one I'd call paradisaical, which is also the longest and latest: L'Orch. Moja One's "Dunia Ni Duara Pts 1 & 2." "Sides A and B of the original 45," he reports, "have here been deftly interwoven into a 10-minute blast more suited to modern ears." Yum. B+