Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

African Pearls: Congo: Pont Sur le Congo [Syllart, 2010]
From the early '70s, before the plunderers went bonkers, the music on this extraordinarily sweet and gentle double-CD flows and glows where later soukous accelerates and coruscates. There are features for Franco, Rochereau, Zaiko Langa Langa. But it achieves its steady-state bliss by showcasing second-level artists rarely heard in the States: Franco's brother Bavon Marie Marie, dead in an automobile accident at 26; outspoken Congo-Brazzaville progressive Franklin Boukaka, executed after a leftwing coup at 31; Franco's adaptable guitarist mentor Dewayon; sax man as big man Verckys; silken guitarist Docteur Nico; and many others who won't let you down. Amid plenty of rhythm workout and enough rough stuff, the purpose is beauty rather than passion or ecstasy. And the effect is to make you feel how deep this musical culture ran. A