Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Assalam Aleikoum Africa Volume One (Progressive and Popular Music of West Africa) [Antilles, 1977]
Unlike John Storm Roberts's Africa Dances anthology, this LP and its companion come from one location--Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Thus, they're a little limited. On this one, the same musicians tend to reappear in different permutations, and their interests are more specifically "progressive" than "popular" (which can mean almost anything in a place where folk culture still thrives). That is, they like horns--great sax break on the catchy "Dogbo Zo N'Wene"--and are fascinated by electric guitars. Something called "Ode to Hendrix" is pretty remarkable, as is the title cut and much of Charles Atagana's bass playing, but the same cannot be said of "Live in Peace," which clocks in at a progressive 11:39 and supports neither its length nor its English lyric. B