Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Henri Bowane

  • Double Take -- Tala Kaka [RetroAfric, 1994] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Double Take -- Tala Kaka [RetroAfric, 1994]
By the time it reaches our tight little backwater, Afropop has generally been winnowed down to some kind of essence--famous tracks by famous artists. The rare albums that originally signified as such tend to be acknowledged masterpieces, rarely dating much earlier than 1980 and often not even recorded in Africa. By comparison, this one could be be some lost Brit obscurity--by the Move, the Soft Boys, you know. Back when Kinshasa was still Leopoldville, Bowane is said to have named Franco and invented a crucial rumba guitar move, but his hit years were over by independence, and when he cut his only album--in 1976, in Ghana, heretofore unreleased due to vinyl crisis--he was just a bizzer. If you didn't wonder briefly what a Francophone big man was doing in an Anglophone studio, perhaps you won't hear the brash yet modest cross-cultural claims of this simple yet polyrhythmic dance music--soukous guitar over highlife beats until the improvs come in. A-