Various Artists

Africa Boogaloo: The Latinization of West Africa

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This is a killer compilation of '60s and '70s African grooves that, as the title implies, owe a lot to contemporary Latin music. This connection is probably already known to listeners who've heard Manu Dibango joining forces with the Fania All-Stars on their Latin-Soul-Rock album, for example, but this disc is still invaluable for the mosaic-style portrait it offers of cultures not in collision, but melding. Some of these performers are well known in world music circles, like Senegal's Orchestre Baobab or Benin's Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, while others are less familiar, but nearly all offer the complex rhythms and lilting guitars that are the West African trademark. Some tracks are much more overtly Latin-ish than others; Rio Band's "Vamos a Bailar" could be a Cuban recording from the 1950s, while Orchestre Yaya Mas' "Rampa Rampa" is an organ-driven track with a cha-cha rhythm and the title track, which actually features Dibango, could have come out on Fania in the mid-'60s -- it's a churning, hip-swiveling anthem Joe Bataan or Bobby Valentín could have recorded, except for the wah-wah guitar, which is straight from the Shaft soundtrack, and Dibango's raucous saxophone. This is one more in a seemingly endless series of terrific compilations of African music, organized around a theme but with near-universal appeal for anyone who likes upbeat, rhythmically energized music.

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