Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Youssou N'Dour: Best of 80's [Celluloid, 1998]
Not a reissue, or anyway not an '80s reissue, this comprises 1995's Senegal-only Dikkaat and 1997's Senegal-only St. Louis, which in turn comprise a dozen songs supposedly composed (and recorded?) in the '80s, although none of my sources has unearthed them all. I own two: the strictly indigenous title song of Etoile de Dakar's Thiapotholy, and a David Sancious stinker buried at the tail end of The Lion. The former reemerges cleaner, faster, and more professional, none of which are necessarily positives; I'll take the rock sonics of renegade guitarist Badou N'Diaye over Jimmy Mbaye's lithe new jack lines any day. But the latter is improved so much it's almost unrecognizable, rougher and shapelier simultaneously. Everywhere guitars, horns, and tama drums interact with sharper punch and tighter pizzazz than in his wild dance music or his crossover set pieces. And sometimes--I'd single out "Xarit," "Diambar," and the unabashedly beautiful "Njaajaan Njaay"--the songwriting is even more inspired than the playing. A-