Wednesday, February 8, 2012

1988: Lisanga Ya Ba Nganga

Franco and Rochereau : Lisanga Ya Ba Nganga


Public Enemy won The Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics album poll for 1988 with It Takes A Nation of Milions to Hold Us Back. Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, Tracy Chapman's debut, Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust and Michelle Shocked's Short Sharp Shocked rounded out the top 5.

 Robert Christgau, "the Dean of Rock Critics", started the Pazz and Jop Poll in 1974 and oversaw the survey for more than 30 years. One of the highlights of the annual Village Voice polls was always the dean's own list. A bit of a "homer", he'd vote for a lot of New York bands, sprinkle in some obscure punk, rap and jazz efforts and add anything by Al Green. Then in the 1986, the year Paul Simon won the poll with Graceland, Christgau really got turned on by authentic African pop. By 1988, five of his top ten albums were African. One, called Omona Wapi,  got the ultra rare A+ grade from the Dean.

Omona Wapi is a summit meeting between two Zairean music greats. Franco, the Rumba Giant of Zaire, plays electric guitar and sings, as Christgau describes, "with a sweet, high voice". The deeper voice belongs to tenor Tabu Ley Rocherau who sings with the confidence of a future cabinet minister ( which he would be under President Laurent Kabila). The opening album track, presented here, name checks both performers and celebrates " a meeting of the wizards." It certainly sounds magical.

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