V is for velocity

Azda by Franco

(My grandmother has driven a Volkswagen for the longest, which I mention in case you need an excuse for why I’m talking about the stone classic “AZDA” today, one of the classics of African music and the theme song for a Kinshasa VW, pronounced fay-vay in Lingala, dealership.)

This is where soukous comes from: start with a fairly conventional rhumba, the kind of thing that you could hear all over Africa in the fifties and sixties, courtesy of a stream of Cuban rhumba vinyls that helped create and indulge the rage for “international” sounds. All of a sudden, at six minutes in, Franco’s guitar pops out of the mix and he throws down an absolutely incandescent solo, the kind of thing that I imagine lighting up the entire Kinshasa nightclub district. But wait! At seven minutes, he pulls into this insane hammer-on theme, and it makes me break down and cry for joy and excitement, as if all of a sudden the bay horse on which I’ve staked my wages is making his move!  He’s edging through the pack, galloping around the back turn, tail  waving, going for absolute broke, foaming at the bit, his tiny jockey  up in the stirrups coaxing the beast to embody the pen-and-ink drawing  on the children’s primer page for “V is for velocity.”