It's always a bit of a risk when you book a band to play live in the studio based solely on a couple of songs from its MySpace page. But that's what I did with Bibi Tanga and The Selenites. Sure, I'd been told they were great live performers — by their publicist. (Just once, I'd like to hear a publicist say, "Yeah, they're fair-to-middling live performers.") Who knew if their slick, groovy blend of Afro-pop and funk would hold up in a live setting? Then, the morning of the band's appearance on WNYC's Soundcheck, I found a Twitter feed from the group's concert the night before at the new Lincoln Center Atrium:
- - "We almost couldn't believe our eyes — Bibi Tanga tap dancing while playing rhythm guitar."
- - "Picking up on hints of Prince and George Clinton."
- - "Don't think you've heard a version of 'Wade in the Water' like the way Tanga & the Selenites play."
- - "If you didn't see Bibi Tanga & the Selenites tonight... you missed out."
Well, I'm happy to say at least one of those tweets was wrong: You haven't missed out. Bibi Tanga, the Paris-based son of a diplomat from the Central African Republic and a guy who's grown up around the world, brought his irresistible global funk to our New York studio, and turned out to be as powerful as advertised. Smart and charming and, yes, he dances while he plays. You can almost tell from the sound.