Super Mama Djombo

Super Mama Djombo

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Here's a wonderful little slice of history from the tiny country of Guinea-Bissau. From its beginnings in a boy scout camp, Super Mama Djombo emerged to become one of the country's leading bands during the late '70s and into the earliest part of the '80s. The 14 tracks here are the product of their only recording session, in 1980, six glorious hours that produced some amazing music, including the West African hit "Pamparida," based on a children's song, a track that made them into regional stars. But it's only one of the great things here. There's some searing music, some beautiful singing, and a very electric atmosphere throughout. There are also some unusual details, like the strange whistling on "Pansau Na Isna," for example; it's jarring and completely unexpected, but it works. Across the whole album there's plenty of driving percussion, always understated, and the guitars offer a mesh of sound that happily owes little to Congolese rhumba -- the fretwork is harder. Inevitably, there are Cuban elements in the music, as in the opener, "Faibe Guiné," but the African element is always highly evident -- "Ordem Do Dia" couldn't be from anywhere else, with its gorgeous guitar arpeggios and ineffable harmonies. Six of these tracks have never been released before, making this a vital document of one of the most important African bands of the late '70s.

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