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:

Sam Mangwana

  • Aladji [Syllart, 1987] B+
  • Megamix [Mélodie, 1990] Neither
  • Rumba Music [Sterns Africa, 1994] A-
  • Maria Tebbo [Sterns Africa, 1995] A-
  • Galo Negro [Putumayo World Music, 1998] **
  • Sam Mangwana Sings Dino Vangu [Sterns Africa, 2000] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Aladji [Syllart, 1987]
A notoriously footloose and political Angola-born Zairean, Mangwana shocked loyal followers of both Rochereau and Franco by working first with one titan and then the other before his African All-Stars brought kick-drum kick and Brownian nonstop to soukous. Long since single again, he here joins up with the hot Guinean-Parisian producer Ibrahima Sylla for an album said to stand with such landmarks as Maria Tebbo, Canta Moçambique, and the legendary Franco collaboration Cooperation. But much as I enjoy the sustained midtempo lyricism of "Aladji" and the chunky mbaqanga subtext of "Soweto," only the jet-launched "Trans-Beros," which leads French Celluloid's Zaire Choc compilation as well, leaps my language barrier. B+

Megamix [Mélodie, 1990] Neither

Rumba Music [Sterns Africa, 1994]
As he nears 50, the citizen of world soukous has never filled his large legend on any album to come my way, and although his official U.S. debut reprises several great hits, I'm peeved that I still haven't heard "Georgette Eckins" or "Maria Tebbo." On the other hand, the classic "Suzana" and the gorgeous "Fati Mata" were worth the wait. As was the Fania All-Star approach to Kinshasa rumba, especially on the infinitely reprisable "Afrika-Mokili-Mobimba," which somebody with more right than me must already have nominated for continental anthem. A-

Maria Tebbo [Sterns Africa, 1995]
On two renowned late-'70s albums, seven cuts totaling about an hour, the polyrhythms are far less elaborate than in present-day soukous, the tunes far more direct. The booklet attributes their winning confidence to the vibrant culture of early independence, and though artistic and commercial logic would have led to overdevelopment anyway, the metaphor is evocative. It's that the-world-is-in-front-of-me thing. Think early hip hop--or early Beatles. A-

Galo Negro [Putumayo World Music, 1998]
obliging ethnic Angolan adds Lusophone accordion to Zaire-rooted pan-Afro-Latinism ("Galo Negro," "Maloba") **

Sam Mangwana Sings Dino Vangu [Sterns Africa, 2000]
old rumba master's new songs, meaning neoclassicism that misses on one cylinder ("Escrobondo," "Ibrahim") **