Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sterns Africa

Gun-toting West Africans make their first album in 25 years one to remember

Les Amazones de Guinée are a girl band with a difference--many differences. They're very much women, not girls--founded 46 years ago, they still include original members. Two of them play saxophone. They're literal warriors, like their Greek namesakes--officers and soldiers of the militia of Guinea, in a part of Africa that turns out penetrating voices like nowhere else. The interlock of two African drums, two electric guitars, bass-and-traps and those saxophones is captivating and propulsive. But it's the singers' foghorn pipes and knifelike timbres that seal the deal. At Juilliard, they'd call the sharp one a soprano, the growly one a mezzo and the mannish one an alto. But all three have too much earth and gravel to be contained by such polite categories. This is rough, beautiful stuff, and it satisfies.

Blender, Apr. 2008