T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo

The Kings of Benin: Urban Groove 1972-80


Consider the position of privilege that comes with being able to express disappointment at yet another compilation of West African funk and groove, perhaps even drippily wishing they'd quit putting them out. Oh, but they won't. And we shut up and dance, especially when they're as good as this one. Hailing from a tiny sliver of land just west of Nigeria, Benin's T.P. (Tout Puissant) Orchestre was clearly one of the hottest acts to ever cut a piece of plastic in all of sub-Saharan Africa, yet it's managed on over 100 releases to remain almost completely unknown outside of its stomping grounds. A single listen reveals this to be one of the tightest, slinkiest dance bands you'll ever hear. Staccato guitar, occasional nips at James Brown, references to the pervasive Congolese and Cuban sounds popular throughout most of Africa, and bass lines so solid you can stand on them put this well-edited comp on par with Fela's essential '70s output. Tout puissant for sure!


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