Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sheshwe: The Sound of the Mines [Rounder, 1988]
Those who get a kick from accordion-heavy gumboots mbaqanga might be lured to this Sotho compilation--with one producer overseeing and one bassist underpinning, unity wouldn't seem a big problem. Unfortunately, what unifies it is how tuneless and static all four groups are--despite Sebata Sebata's rudimentary hooks and the whistles and rude percussion deployed by the others, these songs about snakes and kings and magic bones are more folkloric than most non-South African fans need. Also than some South African fans need. Cf. Tau Ea Lesotho's Nyatsi Tloha Pela'ka (Kaya 1984), which drives stronger shouting with a livelier rhythm section (is that a syndrum?), or the vocal esprit of Puseletso Seema & Tau Ea Linare's He O Oe Oe! (GlobeStyle 1985) (is that a woman?). Harder to find, but believe me, both will satisfy your minimum daily grit requirement. B-