World music: Franco

The Rough Guide to Franco, RGNET 1071
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The Independent Culture

Possibly the most influential African musician of the last century ("Like Shakespeare or Mozart combined with Pele or Muhammed Ali", says the singer Sam Mangwana), the Zairean guitarist and bandleader's career spanned 40 years until his death, aged only 51,in 1989. Although this album is all good, it's the earlier Congolese rumbas (a re-appropriation of Afro-Cuban dance rhythms), that exert the most appeal. Characterised by trance-like repetitions, vocals sung in the melodic Lingala language, and Franco's own sinuous guitar playing, this must be one of the most satisfying forms of music there is.