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Various Artists
The Rough Guide To Gold
World Music Network

By Tom Orr

Published June 13, 2008

While it’s no good trying to capture a complete overview of a music as rich as Congolese rumba on a single CD, this shining collection comes as close as possible to delivering the gold it promises. Things get off to an ideal start with the original 1949 recording of Wendo Kolosoy’s “Marie Louise,” and highlights from the decades that followed keep the snug sweetness of the signature Afro-Latin sound bubbling. Many of the greats (Tabu Ley, Sam Mangwana, Franco, Mbilia Bel, Madilu System, Dr. Nico, Papa Noel and more) are included, and the music is traced from its stripped-down acoustic beginnings through to the modern strains of soukous. Unfailingly beautiful guitars, voices and swaying rhythms are the constants that keep all 73 minutes of this collection a treat. Compiler Martin Sinnock, who also did a fine job on The Rough Guide to West African Gold, has done another great service here.

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