Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Kampala Sound [Original Music, 1989]
Though some may find it too mild, here is the most plainly irresistible John Storm Roberts compilation since Africa Dances. Roberts credits mission-school melodies and natural Bagandan rhythms for the simple, striking, singsong charm of this Nairobi-recorded, Kinshasa-dominated "1960s Ugandan dance music"; note also the r&b-derived basslines of Charles Sonko underpinning whoever has his or her name on the label, and his sister Frida's modest vocals. Created for commercial gain in a Ugandan market that pre-Amin enjoyed the ultimate gift, existence, the music floats in on an innocence of intent that escapes today's self-consciously folkloric African culture preservers. Imminent brutalization lends its lyricism a poignancy I hope no one involved had any inkling of at the time--unless, of course, foresight helped save their lives. A