Manu Dibango
Kozmigroov Albums
Soul Makossa [Atlantic, 1972]
Makossa Man [Atlantic, 1974]
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The first side to Soul Makossa is a monster, starting with the wah-driven "New Bell", a massive chunk of sexual rhythm that breaks down into a middle passage of echoed voices, then kicks back up again into a percussive humping beat.  Seriously, this cut will move your hips more persistently than yr finest lover.  The side continues with "Nights in Zeralda", which is subtler, more restrained, and Manu plays a nice snakey mid-Eastern mode over the groove.  "Hibiscus" is funereal psych blues, with more wah guitar and a crazy echoplexed saxophone. The flipside isn't nearly as peaked, as the band gets into a more Afrobeat style on the first few tracks.  Still, the title cut is wickedly contagious (you know it, it's the one with the vocal riff, "Mama-ko-mama-ssa-mama-makossa" over a JBs vamp), and the album closer, "Oboso", returns you to the spacier funk of the first side, with probably the freakiest guitar and sax solos on the album.  Yeah. The second Dibango album is Makossa Man. This one was disappointing, as it's more of straight-up fusion of JBs funk with African pop, but without any traces of spaciness.  Sure, the jams are tighter, but y'know how it is-- it'll occasionally shake your ass, but it'll never shake your sensibilities. The only other Manu album I own is a later one, Sun Explosion. Despite promising album/track titles ("Matumba", "Motapo") and an awesome cover pic by Pete Turner, this is an exceptionally bland album. The songs are weak, the arrangements derivative of the era (cheezy strings and bgr vocals, straight 4-on-the-floor rhythms), and the jams just go on and on.  I've yet to make it through any of the four tracks.  Avoid. [DW]