Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-03-12


Karantamba: Ndigal (Teranga Beat, 2012) Gambian guitarist Bai Janha is best known as the leader of Guelewar, whose murky 2011-reissued Halleli N'Dakarou is slotted "psych" because some striver scored himself an organ. Much better this previously unreleased testament of Janha's last band, recorded in 1984 by the Malian-Danish bassist Moussa Diallo during Karantamba's residence at his club in Thiès, 35 miles east of Dakar. The personnel are unidentified young proteges of Janha who I surmise are mostly Senegalese, because no matter what Janha does or doesn't call it, these kids are playing some kind of mbalax--Islamic singing over sabar drums rattling away, horns adding sour decoration and commentary, Janha wailing. There was only one Étoile de Dakar. But this is a find, well-rehearsed yet bold and untamed. A-

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls: Deluxe Edition (Universal Republic, 2011) A major album, you knew that. But my grade is for the bonus disc, which--as I'd never have guessed after those drab Exile extras--has dibs on major as well. It outstrips not just It's Only Rock 'n Roll and Goats Head Soup but Tattoo You and probably Emotional Rescue (which several advisors insist I revisit). Where the regular album is musically quirky and lyrically either risky ("Some Girls," "Far Away Eyes") or generalized ("Respectable," "Beast of Burden," damn right "When the Whip Comes Down"), the bonus disc is musically classic-Stones and lyrically small-scale, including NYC specifics that warm my heart. Beginning with the Stu-does-Jerry-Lee bootleg fave "Claudine" and ending with the atypically near-political "Petrol Blues," its star player is a horny guy who just got divorced--a familiar character the classic Stones were made for. Mick's Hank Williams cover trumps Keith's Waylon Jennings cover. His Freddy Cannon cover trumps them both. A-

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