Sunday, August 14, 2011


Sabu - Palo Congo (1957)

This music speaks to me. Unfortunately, it's speaking Spanish, so I don't understand a word.

I kid of course, but I also make a point. Those of you who've met me would most likely attest to the fact that I'm not what you'd call the dancing type. For myriad reasons, I simply do not dance. Consequently, I have never had much use for music that has as its primary function the instilling of a desire to dance in the listener. Sabu's Palo Congo falls into this category, a trait that I imagine will not be that uncommon as I go through The Book's 1001 picks.

It's not that I am oblivious to what it's trying to do to me. I do feel it. But as Sabu's ancient, tribal rhythms work their powerful mojo on the most primitive parts of my brain, I can't help but think of Peter Gabriel earnestly croaking out "The Rhythm of the Heat" (working title - I kid you not - "Jung in Africa") from his solo album Security: It goes a little something like this:
Looking out the window
I see the red dust clear
High up on the red rock
Stands a shadow with a spear...
Huff, huff, huff, huff...
The land here is strong
Strong beneath my feet
It feeds on the blood
It feeds on the meat
The rhythm is below me
The rhythm of the heat
The rhythm is around me
The rhythm has control
The rhythm is inside me...

Can you friggin' believe this guy?! And he says he quit Genesis because they were getting "too pretentious"? Don't "smash the watch", dude. Smash the fucking video camera so you can't embarrass yourself and your "real Africans from Africa" band by writhing around on the ground like Frankenstein's Monster on the verge of his first Tantric orgasm. Oops... Too late. Sorry!

Had I heard it before? I honestly couldn't tell you. After a while it all kind of blends into one, giant chicken-shredding voodoo jam.
Do I like it? Something inside me resists it.
Repeat Listenability? Very low. This stuff is like saffron. A little goes a long way.
Am I keeping it? No. However, I'm thinking this would pretty much be essential listening for anybody who writes, plays or records music for a living - or anybody who wants to do so. It's like a university level course in poly-rhythms.
Standout Tracks? "El Cumbanchero" is the only one that separates itself from the "boogada-boogada" blob in my mind, so I'll say that one.

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