Bopol Mansiamina has played a key role in Congolese music history. Beginning in the '70s he passed through bands such as Rock-A-Mambo, African Fiesta Sukisa and Orchestra Continental, and he founded Les Ya Tupas before joining Sam Mangwana in the short-lived band, African All Stars.
Bopol established his prolific solo career in the early 80s, always assembling around himself a stellar group of musicians. This interesting album has Wuta Mayi, Nyboma and Syran Mbenza in the line-up, previewing what would become the soukous supergroup, Les Quatre Etoiles.
The record opens with the title track, "Manuela," a lovely track with sweet guitars from Bopol and Syran, and wonderful singing, including scat in the sebene, from Wuta Mayi and Ballou Canta. "Manuela" is a great song that he recorded again, fourteen years later when he played with Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca. It is the best song on this album. In many of the other songs, Bopol experiments with various rhythms that demonstrate his virtuosity on bass and rhythm. A keyboard is present, but generally takes a backseat to the guitars and horns, while providing a funky angle to a few songs. Throughout, the singing is excellent. The final song is pretty unusual, and I'm not really sure how to classify it. Can you?