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By Steve Weinstein
By Araceli Cruz
YOUSSOU N'DOUR & ÉTOILÉ DE DAKAR
The Rough Guide to Youssou N'Dour & Étoilé de Dakar
(World Music Network import)
With Étoilé's Stern's Africa CDs gone the way of all licensing deals, how can I say no? Maybe somewhere there was more exciting music circa 1980punk L.A.? soukous Montreuil? hip-hop South Bronx? But don't bet on it. Exploding out of this one band and the mad rivalries it engendered, early mbalax is the grail, the very essence of musical conflict resolution not least because the groove can't quite resolve the conflict. Great singers jostle for space among spiky tamas. Horns and guitars augment and one-up each other. You never know what'll happen next. But everything they do gonna be funky. A PLUS
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Given how essential both bands' regular albums are, Nirvana and the Clash's The Singlesaren't, but both are superb high-focus introductions. Ditto for The Best of Louis Armstrong: The Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, which crosses purposes with two worthy boxes, and The Best of James BrownVolume 2The '70s, a budget boil-down of the funk Star Time canonizes. Tricky: A Ruff Guide is his second-best UniMoth album, not least because it re-makes/re-models half of Maxinquayewithout mentioning ass-fucking once. What a nice present.