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Manu Dibango's Africadelic

If you like Fela Kuti, then stop what you're doing and get the album Africadelic, by Manu Dibango. And then...strap yourself in for some mind-blowing 70s Afrobeat/Afrofunk.

Just when I thought no artist could ever rival Fela, I stumble up on this classic album from 1973. If you're used to Fela, you'll find Dibango's stuff has a bit more of a studio quality about it and definitely sounds more Funk than Jazz.

Fela's songs routinely extend into the 10, 20, 30 minute range, taking those typical, Jazz-like diversions and sometimes feeling much more like recorded jam sessions than songs. Dibango's Africadelic, however, is composed of 3 and 4 minute tracks. The songs rely heavily on the horn section, the Disco-like "waka-waka" guitar riffs, and heavy drum-rythms to create a sound that comes straight out of a campy, 1970s action movie or Blacksploitation film. You can almost see two guys in bell-bottoms, elevator shoes, leather jackets, and afros, chasing some shaggy-haired crooks through the alley in a Dodge Charger.

I have to believe this guy was way ahead of his time. Maybe labeling it as Afrobeat is improperly pigeon-holing it? This seems to expand way beyond Afrobeat; action-packed and speedy, whereas Fela's stuff is mellow and slimy.

Either way, they're both great. And if you have any affinity for Fela, Funk, or Afrobeat, you simply have to check out Manu Dibango.


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