Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

African Connection, Vol. 1: Zaire Choc! [Celluloid, 1988]
Assembled by the biggest and sharpest manufacturer-distributor of an African style perfected in Europe, this is the showcase the slick, deep, joyously cosmopolitan, unselfconsciously commercial body-music the Paris-Kinshasa connection was waiting for. Contrasting vocal hooks, quicksilver guitar figures, and negotiable rhythm changes are orchestrated with a skill that evokes a great dancefloor DJ working the crowd for an hour-long peak. For sure it's more than a quality disco compilation: selections don't just hang together, they stand out, with Sam Mangwana, 4 Etoiles, and Papa Wemba some of the famous hard-to-finds featured. The secret, though, is in the selection and the flow--bet the compiler did literally do time on the Paris club scene, testing every track in the crucible of Saturday night. A+