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CD REVIEW: Sorry Bamba's Volume One 1970-1979

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THE DEAL: Jazzy funk and soul from a vastly underrated Malian superstar.

THE GOOD: Other West African musicians, notably Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, have incorporated funk and horn-driven jazz in their compositions. But Malian Sorry Bamba's music possesses an otherworldly quality, an alieness unlike anything Western ears are accustomed to. It's more of an immersion than a listening experience, a fast flowing current of sound that sweeps you downstream, baptizing you in murky equatorial waters. "Poory" sounds like Miles Davis loose in the jungle, his frenzied cries soaring over the equatorial heartbeat of tribal drums. "Aisse" is the most melodic composition, '60s organ-driven pop with a guitar solo like Les Paul on peyote. "Sayouwe" thunders along like P Funk with a synth override straight out of the Mothership.

THE BAD: Its not easy listening music. You have to stretch your ears somewhat to get your head around the sound.

THE VERDICT: Absorbing this stuff is worth the effort. Once it gets inside your head, it's hard to get out. You'll be going back repeatedly for refills.

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