Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Consumer Guide Album

African Music [Vertigo, 1983]
It took the Dutch to assemble a decent compilation of Nigerian highlife, the r&b-ish horn-and-guitar music that came over from Kenya with founding father E.T. Mensah in the '50s. Less brassily arranged than Congolese rumba, these four-minute classics from the style's masters skip all over the past decade-plus yet mesh as gentle pop epiphanies for untrained ears. Many feature sax solos almost as laggardly as the gritty, half-conversational singing exemplified by patriarch Dr. Victor Olaiya. Both elements pulling against effervescent guitar hooks and the lift of multiple drums in indigenous patterns I couldn't begin to specify, with the pleasinigly received guitar solos occupying a middle ground where the music resolves. Though such generalizations don't hint at the reggae side trips and rock steals and best-selling vocals also present, they do sum up the music's sky-above-mud-below tension--an animistic charge that doesn't demand a literal belief in anybody's or anything's soul. A