Forget the Buena Vista Social Club. If you want a heart warming tale of musical success in the face of extreme adversity then buy this CD and listen to the sound of these paraplegic street musicians from Kinshasa, Congo and their rhythm and blues, funk inflected rumba.
Recorded out in the open, mainly in the zoological garden in Kinshasa using 12 microphones, a laptop and a 100m mains cable stealing electricity from a deserted bar this album captures the sound of Staff Benda Bilili on their home turf.
Comprising of 4 senior singer/guitarists perched on their customised tricycles, a younger rhythm section and 17 year old Roger who uses a unique one stringed electric lute he made himself using a length of electrical wire attached to a small wooden bow and then inserted in a metal dried milk can which he calls a Satonge, this album is raw yet oozes soul, positivity and vibrancy.
`Je T'Aime', my personal favourite, takes it's cue from James Brown with it's infectious groove, `sex machine' refrain, Roger's Hendrix like riffing and a soul vocal that makes me want to cry and dance simultaneously.
`Polio' is a slow heartfelt, yet amazingly unbitter, appeal to the listening public recommending vaccination against poliomyelitis and coming from a band, half of whom have lost the use of their legs because of the disease, it's a message that carries some serious weight.
As with much Rumba music you are never far away from the sound of Cuba which the Congolese musicians of the 50's and 60's reappropriated and this is most evident on the laid back `Sala Keba' as is a love of reggae on the skanking `Sala Mosala'.
Mostly the album consists of up-tempo dance numbers designed to make you shake it and that's what I suggest you do whilst giving thanks that you are able to.