DJ Hamid Zagzoule's Afrique Dynamique!
selection has no governing theme beyond a bias towards uptempo dancefloor certainty. His favourite period seems to be the 1980s, an ascendant time for the continent's music. Countries covered stretch from Mali down to South Africa, though the emphasis is definitely on West Africa. The disc bolts off with a pair of classic Congolese soukous duets by Franco/Sam Mangwana and Pepe Kalle/Nyboma, both flooded with golden vocal harmonies and serpentine guitar chases. Numbers by Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens and King Sunny Ade offer the widest stylistic diversions, the Queens supplying compulsive chorus hooklines, the neglected King Sunny still sounding out on his own with Nigerian ju-ju wobble-drums pulsing under bizarrely Hawaiian steel guitar phrases. Ghanaian Highlife guitarist Eric Agyeman provides a 1970s classic, while Baaba Maal contributes an early, reggae-infused tune with one of his trademark vocal flights. One thing that's noticeable on tracks by Tshala Muana and Charlotte Mbango is the harshness of their programmed beats, increasingly prevalent once into the 1990s. --Martin Longley