Another excursion away from “la diritta via” of Lucky Thirteen. This is to mark the start of my daughter’s three month stint of volunteering in Bamako, Mali. She is a Team Leader for International Service initially leading a group of young British volunteers living with disabilities who will be aiming to share experiences with their Malian counterparts and to contribute to the promotion of the rights of people living with disabilities in Mali. After that she will be working with another group of British volunteers carrying out research and development activities for the Malian organisation which is “hosting” the placement: FEMAPH (Malian Federation of Disabled People’s Associations).
So with Frances off to Bamako, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post a track from the Super Rail Band of Bamako, or the Super Rail Band Of The Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali to give them their full name. The album is eponymously titled but don’t expect me to type all of that over again – or even copy and paste it!
From the Ace / Globestyle records website we learn that “Formed in July 1970, the Super Rail Band was the first major pop band to be sponsored by the Ministry of Information in its native Mali. The country’s severe shortages of musical instruments and the electricity to power them (often no more than 3 hours at best was available per day) meant that government sponsorship was essential. The band became synonymous with the regular venue they played – the capital city’s railway station hotel and refreshment room – thus acquiring the name the Super Rail Band of the Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali.
In October 1982, when the recordings were made that appear here, Djelimadi Tounkara was the compositional and guitar driving force behind the Super Rail Band and the singers were Sekou Kane and Lafia Diabate. All of the Super Rail Band’s trademark style is fully in evidence (on this album) – the soaring, almost Arabic sound of the vocals, the cascading electric guitars (emulating both the traditional kora and ngoni instruments of the region), the tight horn riffs and loose backbeat of the drumming. The electric guitars owe a debt to the dominant soukous stylings of the period but they relocate the musical terrain to a whole different plane. A classic African music sound.”
I couldn’t put it better myself. Enjoy Konowale from the CD.