Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Manu Dibango

  • Soul Makossa [Atlantic, 1972] A-
  • Makossa Man [Atlantic, 1974] B+
  • Afrovision [Island, 1978] B+
  • Wakafrika [Giant, 1994] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Soul Makossa [Atlantic, 1972]
Melodically, Dibango's no improvisor, but the sharp cry of soprano sax against Afro-rhythms grabs ears and ass a lot quicker than the choral moves of Cymande or Osibisa. May help that these Afro-rhythmists still reside in Africa--bassist Long Manfred sounds as if he learned his stuff off literal airwaves, from the master drummer in the next village. A-

Makossa Man [Atlantic, 1974]
Hate to say this, but what makes Dibango's African dances so much catchier than those of the competition is that he's from a French part of the continent, which means he relates to the Caribbean--all of it--rather than to rock. Let's face it, rock's catchiest beats have always come from the Caribbean. Not that catchiest is the only superlative I care about. B+

Afrovision [Island, 1978]
Despite the title--or maybe it's what the title means--this is the most internationalist of Dibango's three U.S.-release albums, and its light funk does sound suspiciously fusionoid at first. But the cross-rhythms take over every time, so that even the jungle atmospherics of the title track breathe with a natural life far removed from the commercial exoticism toward which it may well aspire. B+

Wakafrika [Giant, 1994]
all your Afropop faves, with extra added attractions ("Soul Makossa," "Diarabi") **