Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Amadou & Mariam: Tje ni Mousso [Polydor/Universal, 2000]
Riding out on the bedriff of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," this "blind couple of Mali"--their chosen billing, and you should see their sunglasses, since they can't--"déconcertent et séduisent en recyclent avec un fausse naiveté musiques africaines, américaines et européenes," says one Alsatian critic. Got that? "Disconcert and seduce while recycling African, American, and European musics with a false naïveté," only in French it sounds better. Just like the accompanying lyric, whose minitrot reads, "Here we come singing for freedom, happiness and love all over the world." And that's not even to mention the Bambara one summarized as "Welcome to women who respect their husbands." Cheap and charming, they play and sing with the multicultural comfort Malians who emigrate to Abidjan and then Paris rarely find the fit for. A-