Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Authenticité: The Syliphone Years [Sterns Africa, 2007]
A 1965 to 1980 trove from Guinea, which in its anti-accommodationist militance socialized music, subsidizing dozens of big-time, "federal" (i.e., "national" and local) orchestras and recording them on a government label. The consistent musicianship and enjoyable high points of the first of two mix-and-match discs don't necessarily signify from afar. But on the second, all the horn bands about to erupt up the coast in mercantile Dakar are presaged by longer tracks with crazier, more expansive arrangements. And though these aren't as spectacular as on Stern's Dakar-based Music in My Head, they're often as surprising. Midway in, roots-conscious new ensembles slow things down while keeping them weird. And for a finale, there's a tribute to the sharp, comic falsetto of Disc 1 standout Demba Camara, dead in 1973 along with his nation's first, best chance at pan-African stardom. A-