Verckys & Orchestra Vévé, Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedeleic Rumba 1969-1978

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 12.08.14 in Reviews

For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it’s not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo’s ’70s. The group is led by Georges Mateta Kiamuangana, aka Verckys, a guitarist who’d joined Franco Luambo’s OK Jazz at age 18 and broke out on his own a few short years later, in the late ’60s.

A nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo’s ’70s

Verckys was soon playing multiple instruments in his own crack unit, Orchestra Vévé, and on this compilation their rumba is creamy and lilting: “Ya Nini” bubbles like his old boss Franco for nearly 10 suave minutes. But Orchestra Vévé were indelible in just about any style they touched, especially on the instrumentals. “Oui Verckys” is what the liner notes call an “organ jerk” — a shake-and-fingerpop Farfisa-and-horns instrumental with a beat reminiscent of straightened-out ska. At the opposite end of the scale are the J.B.’s-channeling “Talali Talala” and “Sex Veve,” a slow, inviting blues jam led by sax and underlined by wah-wah guitar. Sometimes the transitions are offhanded, but none of the selections are. This is one of the sharpest recent single-artist testimonials of the recent African reissue surge — an hour you want to keep experiencing.