Theres no Soul Makossa here, but this reissue of Dibangos 1985 LP exudes an air of mellow tropical celebration.
There's no "Soul Makossa" here, but this reissue of Dibango's 1985 LP exudes an air of mellow tropical celebration.

Manu Dibango, "Electric Africa" (Tidal Waves Music reissue; dist. by Light in the Attic). Arriving long after Manu Dibango's 1972 breakout hit, the oft-sampled, David Mancuso-caned "Soul Makossa," 1985's Electric Africa found the Cameroonian saxophonist/composer joining forces with producer Bill Laswell, legendary jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock, synth magi Bernie Worrell (Parliament-Funkadelic, Talking Heads) and Wally Badarou, and other brilliant session players for a slight reinvention of his exuberant afro-jazz-funk. Its four easygoing tracks undulate with a casual gracefulness, their funk understated, their euphoria semi-muted; everything's dispersed over the long haul for an overall air of mellow tropical celebration.

Electric Africa's highlight is the title track, 10-and-a-half minutes of Manu's deep declarations contrasting with a dulcet chorus of women vocalists. Over that interplay, Mory Kanté and Nicky Skopelitis's spidery kora harp and guitar riffs, respectively (much in the vein of James Brown's guitarists Jimmy Nolen and Catfish Collins), Hancock's mercurial piano motifs, and Dibango's joyous sax stabs work up a humid head of steam, nudging you onto the dance floor with the subtlest of gestures. Oddly, the track recalls the inexhaustible buoyancy of Tom Tom Club's classic 1981 debut album, which bore obvious and reverent influences from Africa. Circle of life... of the party right here.

Tidal Waves Music has reissued Electric Africa in a limited edition of 500 on blue vinyl.