Consumer Guide Album
Guitar Paradise of East Africa [Earthworks, 1991]
Though at least three of the artists came up in Zaire, this classic compilation comprises six four- or five-minute Kenyan dance hits and five eight- or nine-minute Kenyan dance hits. So I guess it's benga, a beat/genre/label even more all-embracing than the soukous it cheerfully lifts. Though at times the guitaristics billow like Kinshasa, they're gentler, quirkier, more rural--and they're not definitive, because this is a song album. Nasally conversational or breathily musical, the voices get catchy to impossibly fetching melodies, and though only one band can afford horns, that band comes up with a great chart--a great cheesy chart. Intensely pleasurable up till cut seven, Orchestre Super Mazembe's atypically dark, typically gorgeous "Shauri Yako." After that, five consecutive tunes make you sit up and exclaim, "Oh boy, that one." Destructible, I suppose--persuasion, not power, is the idea. But if this is one world, undeniable.