Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Tanzania Sound [Original Music, 1987]
These fourteen tracks were cut mostly in neighboring Kenya circa 1960, back when the British colony of Tanganyika was turning into Julius Nyerere's socialist proving ground. Congo rumbas that sing their East African provenance in lithe Arab-tinged melodies and Kinshasa rhythms, they have the same urban-folk directness you hear on John Storm Roberts's Africa Dances anthology. These days Dar Es Salaam's renowned live music scene is documented only in state radio's tape library; Tanzanians have made virtually no records since the early '70s, which wasn't how Nyerere planned it when he closed off the Kenyan border. The socialist in me hopes Tanzania's pressing plant starts up soon--and also hopes the music remains as distinctive and unforced as it used to be. A-