Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Lijadu Sisters

  • Afro-Beat Soul Sisters [Soul Jazz, 2011] B+
  • Mother Africa [Knitting Factory, 2012] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Afro-Beat Soul Sisters [Soul Jazz, 2011]
These would-be ingenues rarely go all the way. They don't always sing flat, but they always make you nervous about it, and both their consciousness and their English are pretty rudimentary for kin of Fela and Soyinka. Not nonexistent, however--unlikely as their guileless vocal affect makes it seem, how can a song that goes "We're cashing in prostitution yeah/Cashing in revolution yah" be anything but bitterly ironic? (Right??) This best-of isn't everything it might be--Mother Africa's "Iya Mi Jowi" would spruce it up substantially, for instance. But with producer Biddy Wright hooking them up, it's a minor girlpop treasure with a considerable difference. B+

Mother Africa [Knitting Factory, 2012]
There was apparently a Shanachie best-of I never heard back in '84, but in this heyday of obscurantist crate-digging, now the entire four-album catalogue of these beauteous second cousins of Fela and Wole Soyinka will be released over a one-year span. The debut was Danger and it's lame, English-language moralism further weakening wan attempts at the pop equanimity the Shirelles and lesser females achieved so sweetly so long before. On this follow-up, though, the sustaining grooves the title half-promises buoy gentle soprano harmonies attached to messages I know enough not to be curious about. Instead there are the thrumming pressure drums, the clarinet obbligato that could be a soprano sax obbligato, the guitar solo that could be a synth solo, the spoken praise of the moon delivered by multi-instrumental mastermind Biddy Wright. All of which, I suspect, could be readily accommodated by a new best-of that also isolated a keeper on Danger itself. B+