Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Nairobi Sound [Original Music, 1982]
It's not "primitivism" or "simplicity" that makes African pop so exciting--it's the doubly complex interaction of two sophisticated demotic languages, polyrhythm and technomedia, each with its own style of self-consciousness. Unlike his Africa Dances, however, this John Storm Roberts anthology has a folkloric feel. Very local in origin and outreach and not really intended for dancing, these Kenyan tunes, especially those in the acoustic (and rural) "dry guitar" style, have enormous charm and not much impact, except for those always special moments of inspiration that propel folk music out into the great world--like the soprano duo "Chemirocha," which technomedia fans will be pleased to learn is a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers. B+