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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published May 31, 2006

Super Mama Djombo

When the African nation of Guinea-Bissau won independence from Portugal in the mid-’70s, Super Mama Djombo was already one of the country’s leading bands. They thumbed their noses at colonial authorities that frowned on homegrown rhythms and languages, sonically incorporating both. They remained a sensation after independence, igniting political passions by singing of government misdoings and creating springy, sensuous songs that kept fans grooving throughout Lusophone Africa and beyond. They’d broken up by 1986, but this excellent compilation cements their place in African music history. There’s abundant rippling electric guitars and drumming, with graceful group and solo vocals keeping pace. Songs of corruption, lost love, and struggle for freedom ring out, mostly in arrangements that percolate joyously regardless of subject matter. Many of the group’s members began playing as children, clearly following the right path. It sounds long-lost yet absolutely fresh, testifying to the beauty and power that was no doubt evident when first created.