July 26, 2013

Alpha Blondy | Mystic Power

ARTIST: Alpha Blondy
TITLE: Mystic Power
Reggae has been popular in Africa since the mid 70’s, when the roots rhythms and conscious lyrics of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff resonated across the continent. Africa has since developed its own crop of reggae stars; none shines brighter than Cote D’Ivoire’s Alpha Blondy, whose new album is a fine African reggae primer for the uninitiated. African reggae has its own sound – basically it’s late 70’s Bob Marley/Island Records with even more tuneful, impossibly catchy melodies; tracks 5 and 9 are classic examples. Alpha doesn’t mess much with dancehall and ragga; his latest development is to add more rock to his roots-rock-reggae and the crunchy guitars are most effective on 3 (a Marley cover in French). The album’s centerpiece is 13, a collaboration with his sworn rival Tiken Jah Fakoly (another African reggae superstar), Meiway and three other Ivoirean stars, each singing in a different language and providing a model for the cross-cultural reconciliation Cote D’Ivoire sorely needs in the wake of two civil wars in the last ten years. It’s a beautiful song, one of Alpha’s finest, and the full album is of a piece with his best work.
TOP TRACKS:    3    5    6    9    13
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    4    8    14

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