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Très très fort

Staff Benda Bilili

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Album Review

It's safe to say there's never been a group quite like Staff Benda Bilili. Most of the bandmembers are polio victims confined to customized tricycles, except for the youngest, 17-year-old Roger Landu, who plays a one-string lute he made himself. Recorded in the Kinshasa zoo, where the members spend most of their time, using electricity stolen from another building, this is a disc filled with ambient noise — and some wonderful music. Much of it, unsurprisingly, is Congolese rhumba, as on "Moto Moindo." The four singer/guitarists harmonize liltingly, but the real instrumental star is Landu, who flicks out riffs and solos on his instrument like a virtuoso. The band does mix up the sound, offering some light funk on the track named after themselves and on "Je T'Aime," and some reggae inflections on "Sala Mosala." There's a very positive attitude throughout the songs: these guys might be handicapped, but it's not going to stop them. The musicians are remarkable, the guerrilla recording just about perfect. But the real gift here is the music.

Customer Reviews

incroyable

cet album m'a transporté

Biography

Formed: Kinshasa, Congo

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Staff Benda Bilili is a group of Congolese street musicians who play a fusion of rumba, reggae, and vintage R&B. Formed by Ricky Likabu and Coco Ngambali, the band consists of four middle-aged paraplegics, all of whom were confined to wheelchairs after suffering polio as children, as well as several younger members. Roger Landu, who joined the group as a teenager, acts as a lead guitarist of sorts,...
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Très très fort, Staff Benda Bilili
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