Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rough Guide to the Music of West Africa [World Music Network, 2017]
Musicologically, this is a potpourri dressed up as a hodgepodge--hook-deprived modern Saharans, specialty artists with their own Riverboat albums, Afropop sure shots from the barely West African Nigeria and Cameroun of decades ago, a 2006 novelty hit by schoolgirl sisters from Sally Nyolo's village, palm wine preservationist Koo Nimo showing off his unobtrusive guitar on a little something called "You Will Be Overtaken by Events." At first it seems nice but marginal--Victor Uwaifo's "Ekassa 28" sticks out like the instant classic it was in 1973. But as sequenced by Rough Guide major domo Phil Stanton, it keeps evolving, seldom high-energy but always in infectious motion as one likable tune segues into another. The other instant hit is the novelty, the Bidjoï Sisters' impossibly light and amateurish "Chantal." But as you keep listening, you notice how the aged Koo Nimo's homemade aura sets it up. Everywhere flavors blend. A