A year back, late at night and stoned out of my wits, I came upon a MySpace page in homage to the great Afropop guitar wizard and bandleader Franco and his band TP OK Jazz. I immediately made Franco my new friend. That, I kind of figured, might be the last of it, but over the weekend the MySpace personages behind it threw out a bulletin, and I’d like to share it with you.
What’s probably most remarkable about this clip is that you don’t have to be a Franco-phile to enjoy it. At a different point over the weekend I was talking with a friend and we realized together how absolutely little actual African pop Americans know. That makes me sad because the stuff I love (mostly reissues that bestride my early findings from Christgau’s A-lists and the past decade’s worth of stuff I’ve been sent or bought up) sounds so amazingly good. This is a horse I’ve gotten on before, but here it is again: Do you like sparkling guitars in indie rock? Or dance music? Anywhere at all? There’s no reason not to avail yourself of, for starters, Franco. There’s a Rough Guide with his name on it in the racks. Really, really good. (Even better is The Rough Guide to Congo Gold, a recent album; the two killers are by Grand Kalle & African Jazz and Tabu Ley Rochereau & Mbilia Bel.)
What I love even more is how much of a tribute the clip is to a handful of Web memes: the tribute-dance video (a la “The Numa-Numa Dance”), the mimed performance (a la Air Neal Peart), and best of all the immortal Sleeveface. YouTube is the universal language. And–and!–those album covers in their full size are absolutely mouthwatering.