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Sam Mangwana

  • Aladji [Syllart, 1987] B+
  • Megamix [Mélodie, 1990] Neither
  • Rumba Music [Sterns Africa, 1994] A-
  • Maria Tebbo [Sterns Africa, 1995] A-
  • Galo Negro [Putumayo World Music, 1998] **
  • Sam Mangwana Sings Dino Vangu [Sterns Africa, 2000] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Aladji [Syllart, 1987]
A notoriously footloose and political Angola-born Zairean, Mangwana shocked loyal followers of both Rochereau and Franco by working first with one titan and then the other before his African All-Stars brought kick-drum kick and Brownian nonstop to soukous. Long since single again, he here joins up with the hot Guinean-Parisian producer Ibrahima Sylla for an album said to stand with such landmarks as Maria Tebbo, Canta Moçambique, and the legendary Franco collaboration Cooperation. But much as I enjoy the sustained midtempo lyricism of "Aladji" and the chunky mbaqanga subtext of "Soweto," only the jet-launched "Trans-Beros," which leads French Celluloid's Zaire Choc compilation as well, leaps my language barrier. B+

Megamix [Mélodie, 1990] Neither

Rumba Music [Sterns Africa, 1994]
As he nears 50, the citizen of world soukous has never filled his large legend on any album to come my way, and although his official U.S. debut reprises several great hits, I'm peeved that I still haven't heard "Georgette Eckins" or "Maria Tebbo." On the other hand, the classic "Suzana" and the gorgeous "Fati Mata" were worth the wait. As was the Fania All-Star approach to Kinshasa rumba, especially on the infinitely reprisable "Afrika-Mokili-Mobimba," which somebody with more right than me must already have nominated for continental anthem. A-

Maria Tebbo [Sterns Africa, 1995]
On two renowned late-'70s albums, seven cuts totaling about an hour, the polyrhythms are far less elaborate than in present-day soukous, the tunes far more direct. The booklet attributes their winning confidence to the vibrant culture of early independence, and though artistic and commercial logic would have led to overdevelopment anyway, the metaphor is evocative. It's that the-world-is-in-front-of-me thing. Think early hip hop--or early Beatles. A-

Galo Negro [Putumayo World Music, 1998]
obliging ethnic Angolan adds Lusophone accordion to Zaire-rooted pan-Afro-Latinism ("Galo Negro," "Maloba") **

Sam Mangwana Sings Dino Vangu [Sterns Africa, 2000]
old rumba master's new songs, meaning neoclassicism that misses on one cylinder ("Escrobondo," "Ibrahim") **