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Various: Zaire 74: The African Artists review – Congolese music from Kinshasa festival is thrilling stuff

In the weeks before 1974’s legendary Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and Foreman, a three-day music festival in Kinshasa united major American R&B artists with their Congolese counterparts. Footage of James Brown and others has shown up on the documentaries When We Were Kings and Soul Power, but this lavish two-CD set is the first time we’ve heard the African performances. You’re never far from the poisonous influence of Zaire’s military dictator Mobutu, whose “authenticité” campaign made him a fashionable figure in some Afrocentric circles (there are numerous “Mobutu praise songs”, even one from Miriam Makeba, the only non-Congolese artist here), but even this doesn’t dim the sheer joy of these performances. A loose-limbed set from local rumba hero Franco and Le TPOK Jazz is the centrepiece; his rival Tabu Ley Rochereau provides a frenetic, guitar-heavy rumba-funk stew; Abumba Masikini flirts with acid rock; while Abumba’s sister Abeti mixes soukous with heavy metal. Thrilling stuff.