Orchestra Makassy Agwaya

Arc Music perpetuates one of the worst crimes in world music marketing: boldly labelling the music’s region of origin before crediting the artist that produces it. One must check out the liner notes on the back of the disc to learn its name: Agwaya, not "Legends of East Africa” which is splashed all over the front cover. Agwaya is a neat little recording from 1982 that was made for Virgin Records. It’s a typical example of soukous from that period: evolving from the part 1/part 2 slower/faster song structure of the ’70s towards the non-stop energy in the music perfected by Kanda Bongo Man of Zaire later in the decade. There are only two guitarists present here, but they carry the swing admirably. "Mambo Bado,” the lead-off track, digs into a nice dub section halfway through, reminding us that this was the crossover sound of yesteryear’s African production. Nothing else gets quite this studio wise, but the energy never lets up. The closing track, "Mume Wangu” slows down the pace and features this collection’s most memorable guitar and bass riffs to the proceedings. One shouldn’t start their soukous collection here, but it’s a polished example of East Central African dance music in transition. (Arc)