Salif Keita – Soro
Festival sur le Niger
Another interruption to the Lucky Thirteen series to mark the Festival sur le Niger which is being held this weekend.
Wouldn’t you just love to be lazing alongside the Niger river listening the musicians listed above? Wouldn’t you love to be able to watch & hear Salif Keita, Rokia Traoré and several bands / singers who you don’t know, will probably will never make it outside Mali, but are fantastic musicians? If you would, you will be jealous of Frances, Felicity, Jemma, Hibz, Rachel and the other IS volunteers who are chilling out in Segou this weekend.
To take the edge off your jealousy just a bit, I’ve the opening track of Salif Keita‘s breakthrough album Soro for you. While you listen to Salif’s magnificent vocals, trawl the Internet for trips to the festival at Segou and resolve to book for next year.
Salif Keita – Wamba
Root Doctors – Dr Roots Gumbo Kings
Che coincidenza! – I’ve just watched Wales beat Scotland in the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament and Lucky Thirteen selects a CD from Wales for me to post from. Wales via New Orleans that is as today’s track is from Mike Harries Root Doctors.
Their website tells us that : “Mike has been making music in Cardiff since the late 1940’s for the most time in the New Orleans traditional style. He formed the ROOT DOCTORS in 1987, bringing together a group of both experienced and young musicians, proficient in a variety of musical styles. The ambition was to blend together a programme of jazz, blues, R’n’B, funk and all stations south, creating a fresh and exciting sound. There have been many personnel changes over the years, but the music is always eminently danceable and above all else FUN.”
I’m not sure how come I bought this CD or where or when. I don’t even put the CD on my player much but when a track from the CD comes up when I am “shuffling” the mp3s on my computer, my ears prick up and my toes start to tap. (This constitutes the very highest praise this ageing, non-dancer can give to a tune!)
I’m not sure if Winin’ Boy Blues is the best track on the CD – perhaps my vote would go to a live version of Don’t You Lie To Me – but I chose it because a typo on the sleeve notes calls the track Winnin’ Boy Blues and there were 15 Welsh Winnin’ boys on the pitch when the final whistle went in Cardiff this afternoon.
Root Doctors – Winin’ Boy Blues
Patrick Street – All in Good Time
No post last week due to a weekend away at the capital of the Sussex Riviera – Bognor Regis.
And a short post this week – at the time of my life when I should be slowing down, I seem to be increasingly busy at home and at work. Still it could be worse, I could be out of work with nothing to get me out of bed of a morning at home.
So, enough cod philosophising, on with the music. This week we’ve got Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road, from the album All In Good Time which has featured here before.
Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road
Bajourou – Big String Theory
As usual I’m rushing to get this posted. I’ve been busy at work in the week and busy at home over the weekend. Mustn’t grumble though – that’s how I like it.
So, a very quick post – a second Malian track to send Frances and colleagues on their way in Mali. And the best way to fire up a quick post is to quote from the record label’s website:
“BAJOUROU (which means ‘big string’ or ‘big tune’) unites two of Mali’s prime guitar shapers – Bouba Sacko and Djelimadis Tounkara (now winner for Africa of BBC Radio 3’s Music of the World Awards) and singer Lafia Diabate in a superstar acoustic trio, recorded deep and direct in the Malian night.
During November of last year, intrepid GlobeStyle person Ben Mandelson and Lucy Duran journeyed to Bamako in Mali. There they recorded direct-to-DAT Bajourou, a superb trio of Malian acoustic stars. The band’s leader and electric guitarist Jalimadi Tounkara and singer Lafia Diabate were part of the legendary Super Rail Band (in fact, Lafia was the singer who replaced Mory Kante and Salif Keita when they left for solo careers). Rounding off the trio, Bouba Sacko is the most in-demand accompanist and arranger for all of the cantatrices or singing women of Mali. Big String Theory is a showcase for Bajourou (in Manding “Big String”), the Malian music of celebration and relaxation. The ambient recording captures a music of many subtle delights, framed against a natural acoustic background and the distant Malian night. The tour Mali Unplugged is a more acoustic showcase for music that has often become synonymous with the loud, electric performance. Mali Unplugged brings it all back home to the glorious acoustic roots of its traditions.”
The song I’ve chosen is Mansa “.. a beautiful song … on the theme of ‘life is short, make the best of it'”. Well, credit to all those going to Mali as part of the International Service scheme – they are making the most of their lives.
Bajourou – Mansa
Super Rail Band – Super Rail Band
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.
Super Rail Band – Konowale
Thomas Mapfumo – The Singles Collection 1977-1986
After a diversion to celebrate the life of Cesaria Evora I’m back to my Lucky Thirteen series. (When I say my I mean, of course shamelessly stolen from Joe Boyd. And talking of Joe Boyd, is everyone else out there astonished by the fact that Joe Boyd has not been awarded a gong of any description for his services to British music? I know that he is an American but if George Bush and Ronald Reagan are worthy of an award …
Enough lobbying, on to Thomas Mapfumo. As trailed last week, thirteen steps from my Machanic Manyeruke CD is Thomas Mapfumo – The Singles Collection 1977-1986. It is hard to find now but is still available online new and used.
The track I have chosen to post is Pachinyakare which is probably the best one to post on Christmas Eve as the news is filled with stories of bombs are being set off round the world killing hundreds of people and maiming many more. Pachinyakare is “A folk song that vividly describes life in the “golden years” of the past when people lived in peace, without numerous problems being encountered in today’s life like disease, shortage of food, pollution etc.”
Have a peaceful Christmas and lets all hope for golden years.
Thomas Mapfumo – Pachinyakare
Machanic Manyeruke and the Puritans
Fingers fumbling forward firteen (sic) brings us to Machanic Manyeruke and the Puritans with their eponymous album release in Zimbabwe in 1986 and in the UK on the Cooking Vinyl label in 1989. This CD got quite a bit of airplay at the time of release in the usual places because of its bright, vibrant sound. What is usual about the music is that it is Christian gospel music, sung in the shona language – though Wikipedia informs us that Gospel music is a major genre in Zimbabwe.
The track that I am posting is Zvandaiva Mutadzi Zvangu (I used to be a sinner). The album liner notes tell us that: “This song explains how Peter the disciple heard the voice of Jesus calling him for his service and he followed. A song which touches Machanic’s heart so much.” Other songs on the album are When the saints go marching in, I am happy, Jonah and the Whale, God is good etc.
I am not a Christian, indeed I am not religious at all, but I find that this album, like so much good spiritually inspired art, is joyous and genuinely uplifting.
Postscript: On finishing this post, I learnt that this is the first Zimbabwean track that I have posted. I almost cannot believe it. If the Lucky Thirteens don’t throw up a Thomas Mapfumo or Oliver Mtukudzi track soon I’ll have to temporarily terminate the Thirteen theme.
Machanic Manyeruke and the Puritans – Zvandaiva Mutadzi Zvangu
Kanda Bongo Man – Non Stop Non Stop
The world divides into two groups – those who dance and those who don’t. I don’t – though occasionally I do tap my feet. However, if I did dance, I might well play this track by Kanda Bongo Man. It was made for dancing, as are all the tracks on the album Non Stop Non Stop.
The album was put out in the UK in 1990 when the work of several African musicians was being re-packaged and marketed in Europe and North America. The cover shows a young and athletic Kanda Bongo Man throwing some moves to, successfully I imagine, encourage his audience to dance. Recent photos show him looking less athletic but equally enthusiastic in his routines.
This album is still available to purchase – though it is not all that cheap. It would make a brilliant Christmas present for the joyful music and Diblo’s sublime guitar playing.
Kanda Bongo Man – Ida
Dikanda – Usztijo
1, 2, 3, …, 13 – it’s Dikanda – Ederlezi.
Dikanda are a Polish group who play gypsy music; they are from Szczecin in the north of Poland. I was introduced to Dikanda by my friend Robert who I did some work with a few years ago – Robert hails from a small town very close to Szczecin. Dikanda are very popular on the folk scene in Poland, Germany and around Europe and have recently toured the USA.
It is quite serendipitous that my Lucky Thirteen CD of the week was of gypsy music, as last weekend I went to the London Gypsy Orchestra’s concert at the Union Chapel. As you may well know, my daughter plays in the Orchestra and this was her last concert prior to taking a year’s sabbatical to do some volunteering in Mali and then travel to far flung places. She is under strict instructions to fulfil her daughterly obligations and send back Malian / Farflungian CDs, so watch out for those being posted here!
So, before posting this week’s track, I would encourage you to support the London Gypsy Orchestra – go to the gigs – they are great fun, buy the CD, become a “Friend” etc. And look out for Dinkanda. I don’t think they have played live in the UK – but they really should. The CDs are available and of course you can download the tracks from many sources.
Dikanda – Ederlezi
Ry Cooder – Chicken Skin Music
This is where the Lucky Thirteen falls down, when the thirteenth album is one I have posted about before – twice in this instance. But, hey-ho, go with the flow.
The album that I have reached for before and do so again today is Chicken Skin Music by Ry Cooder. Can it really have been release in 1976? Apparently so.
The Bourgeois Blues, as you will know is a Leadbelly song, credited on this album as being written by Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) and Alan Lomax. The playing is by Milt Holland, percussion, and Ry Cooder, bajo sexto, mandola, bottleneck guitar, French accordion and vocals. (I’d be content just to own those instruments, never mind be able to play them. And that goes for the vocal instrument too!).
If you enjoy this track and want to delve deeper into Leadbelly’s music you should visit Document Records website. They have just about everything Leadbelly ever recorded.
And if you want more Ry Cooder, check out his latest album Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down which has been well received – Robin Denselow in the Guardian called it “Magnificent”.
Ry Cooder – The Bourgeois Blues