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Love's a Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa

Label: Luaka Bop --- Released: April 2005

David Byrne's third release under the World Psychedelic Classics series has little to offer the fan of flower power bands of the late 60's. West Africa is a melting pot of musical styles and the early 70's saw a true blossoming of a new musical style dubbed AfroPop. AfroPop is a blend of the popular music of the time; traditional West African music ( highlife, palm wine), Caribbean dance music and American funk and soul. The <i>Funky Fuzzy Sounds</i> collects the best of these moments in time, music that might otherwise be lost forever in an African studio basement.

<i>Love's a Real Thing</i>, sung in English by the "Super Eagles", is the sole song which could be termed psychedelic but it is more a copy of the psychedelic sound than original. The better tracks are rooted in the West African experience. Manu Dibango's <i>Ceddo End Title</i>, an instrumental delight, combines a balophone (wooden xylophone) and bongo drums to surreal effect. Senegal's "No.1 de No.1" sing <i>Guajira Van</i>, an infectious blend of African talking drums and Cuban melody -- you can feel the delicious pull of two worlds far apart.

Most other tracks are rare AfroPop nuggets and highly recommended for fans of Fela Kuti. I was surprised by the diversity on this 12 song, 65-minute disk. Each song has a unique musical phrasing, a different and unique mixture of instruments and a different instrumental solo. Every track will keep you swinging over and over again.

It's worth noting, some of these tracks are fairly rough by modern standards. But thanks to Luaka Bop and their tireless effort to preserve and promote "at risk" music, it's here to stay and not lost to time.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars