Various Artists

Lagos Disco Inferno

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The term "disco" has been appropriated by so many dance music subgenres -- sometimes with irony, sometimes without -- that it's sometimes easy to forget that it once referred to a truly distinctive and recognizable style of dance music. The Nigerian musicians whose work is documented on this fun (if ultimately rather wearying) compilation knew exactly what disco was and how to put it together: the emphasis is not on chord progressions (many of these tunes consist of little more than extended two-chord vamps) or lyrics (sample couplet: "Come on let's do the disco/Come on let's do the funky") but on layered, insistently burbling grooves with smoothly glistening sonic surfaces. Some of them, like Geraldo Pino's "African Hustle," are on the jazzy side with extended Fender Rhodes solos; others incorporate subtle Latin elements (Pogo Ltd.'s "Don't Put Me Down"), or pleasantly cheesy choral vocals (Tirogo's "Dancing Machine"), or cooing sexiness (Christy Essien's "Take Life Easy"). All of them make expert use of the essential elements of classic disco, and if you can listen to the whole thing from start to finish, then more power to you.

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