Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Super Mama Djombo

  • Super Mama Djombo [Cobiana, 2003] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Super Mama Djombo [Cobiana, 2003]
From tiny Guinea-Bissau--formerly Portuguese Guinea, wedged between Senegal and Guinea proper, independent since 1974, population well under a million then and well over a million now--came a band that lasted a decade, even played one of Fidel's Havana youth conferences, but recorded only once, leaving six hours of master tape in Lisbon in 1980. Where the music of nearby Cabo Verde is dominated by mestizo variants on Portuguese fado, Guinea-Bissau had few white settlers, and if Super Mama Djombo recall anyone as they mix and match across West Africa, it's early Orchestra Baobab, hold the salsa. Soukous and highlife echo in the guitars, and the notes suggest that these songs in many languages--six tribal tongues in addition to the urban Kriol they favored--needed to be sung. Take for instance the title of the post-independence "Dissan Na M'bera," which means, the notes say, "'Let me walk on the side of the road'--don't run me over with a state car." A-