The Voice of Lightness Vol. 2

If Fela Kuti was Africa's James Brown, Tabu Ley Rochereau was its Sam Cooke, a singer whose sweet vocals — delivered mainly in French and Lingala — were a gold standard for more than 30 years. The Congolese bandleader was a talent magnet, and this two-CD anthology from his career's second half, 1977-1993, shows his artisanal guitar armies and horn sections stretching out — most songs clock in around 10 minutes. "Ohambe" features Afropop guitar hero Dr. Nico; "Loyenghe" shows off the birdsong voice of Mbilia Bel, Rochereau's superstar protégée. But on the reggae-inflected "Ekeseni" and elsewhere, his sublime, purring high tenor needs no co-star.

Listen to "Mère Ando" and "Lisanga Ya Banganga":

Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

From The Archives Issue 1126: March 17, 2011
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