Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Daniel Owino Misiani and Shirati Band

  • Benga Blast! [Earthworks, 1989] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Benga Blast! [Earthworks, 1989]
Not all that easy to tell this Kenya-recorded '80s-spanning compilation from Shirati Jazz's London-recorded 2/11/87 Benga Beat even though Misiani is missing from the earlier release, which consists entirely of material penned and cut/recut by members of the band he continued to lead 25 years after he invented it. Quality does emerge: Misiani's writing is catchier, and he's good for an extra measure of vocal and instrumental authority despite the U.K. production's superior audio. But what defines both is the still-delicate benga sound, uncommonly folkish for modern Afropop even though the soukous competition has prodded it toward what passes in Kenya for revisionist HI-NRG. Sweet and beaty. A-