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Various Artists - African Disco 
In spite of Africa's acknowledged place as the origin of so many of humanity's achievements, its contemporary musical tradition is often overlooked. With public perceptions frequently boiled down to the marketing umbrella that is "world beat" or traditional/field recordings, it is easy to forget that Africans are quite adept at keeping abreast of modern trends.

Riding the wave of interest in all things African, as evidenced by the barrage of African funk compilations, African Disco provides a snapshot of what the Motherland was grooving to during the days of platform shoes and boogie fever. Many of the ten cuts are virtually unknown, making this an ear-opening experience full of delightful discoveries.

Not surprisingly, African Disco shows a great deal of Western influence, especially on the fiery Brass Construction-styled mania of Kabbala's "Ashewa Ara" and "The Way It Used To Be" by Pacific Express, a heavyweight funk monster that could pass for prime Headhunters material. On "Kaloule Woman," there is even a hint of Third World's clubbier side, with vocalist D'Allan Shelly being a ringer for William Clarke. If Buari's "Advice From Father" sounds oddly familiar, don't be surprised - Kenny Dope sampled the hypnotic chant-and-groove piece for his Bucketheads project.

As you may expect, the shadow of Fela Kuti looms large on the set. Ephriam Uzomechina Nzeka checks in with fast-footed versions of "Lady" and "Zombie," and Don Boadi's closing "Money Is The Root Of All Evil" is Fela-esque in subject matter and arrangement, if not tempo. groove construction. Finally, Afrika 70 drummer Tony Allen contributes his classic "Afro-Disco Beat," perhaps the definitive Afro-disco record.

Simply stated, this is a great introduction into what will probably be further examinations of African club music. Hats off to Nascente for a job well done.

Copyright 2007  All rights reserved.



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