Lobi Traore/Sorry Bamba
Mali Gets Loud
Lobi Traore: Bwati Kono "In the Club" (Kanaga System Krush)
Although I've never heard this Malian guitarist's Bamako or Bambara Blues, I admired his quick, clean, tightly hypnotic 1996 Segou‑-which hardly prepared me for either of the two albums to appear since he died last year at 49. Rainy Season Blues is one of those solo acoustic sitdowns that authenticity fetishists pine for and I'm too crass to get through twice when the songs are in English. This is the opposite‑-loud, electric band jams from a late-night club in an early-to-bed city and "a well-known Nigerian `Hotel,'" whatever that means. I do ask myself why I'm more likely to enjoy the form from the number five Malian guitarist than from, say, Jeff Beck. Intensity of self-creation, partly, plus I remain a big Hound Dog Taylor fan. Traore cuts Taylor. But the 10-minute "Ya Time" ("Someone who has lost their mother and father") could actually pass for blues in the land of Ali Farka Toure, which claims blues a lot more often than it gets within 3000 miles of them. A MINUS
Sorry Bamba: Volume One 1970-1979 (Thrill Jockey)
Before there was a Rail Band, this nobly born singer-trumpeter-flutist led a dance troupe and a musical ensemble in the provincial Malian city of Mopti. The Rail Band was more elegant and complex‑-Bamba was no Salif Keita or Mory Kante vocally, and when Rail Band stalwart Kanté Manfila steps up for a track here, the delicacy of his guitar technique makes for a nice change. Bamba doesn't put forth a consistent sound. He was in show business, and though his core audience was more provincial than the travelers who came through Bamako station, they liked having clave and Ethiopian horns and baby-got-back mixed in with their griot-approved staples. But that's a positive--fun, really. Combined with amenities only Bamba could provide‑-his trumpet, his flute, his specialty in Dogon culture, and most spectacularly a thousand-year-old showpiece featuring an impossible hectoring chant for a long-departed emir‑-the groove that asserts itself has crude satisfactions all its own. A MINUS
It's likely most relevant to Blue Jays fans like me, but it's worth a listen.
I thought I remembered reading in one of Kerouac's biography's that Snyder had sent Kerouac an angry letter after Dharma Bums was published--something about a special circle of hell for mendacious or dishonest poets. But maybe I've confused him with Kenneth Rexroth, whose dislike of Kerouac and his work (apparently, the feeling was mutual) was a matter of some public record.
Jason, thanks for the correction. I thought I remembered reading in one of Kerouac's biography's that Snyder had sent Kerouac an angry letter after Dharma Bums was published--something about a special circle of hell for mendacious or dishonest poets. But maybe I've confused him with Kenneth Rexroth, whose dislike of Kerouac and his work (apparently, the feeling was mutual) was a matter of some public record.
Gary Snyder was so ticked at Kerouac's portrayal of him that it basically ended their friendship, to the point where I don't think he's ever commented on Kerouac (someone please correct me if that's untrue. I went through my Kerouac phase almost 30 years ago and haven't read much of or about him since).
This has been a great conversation, so let me just add that whoever said that Dharma Bums is superior to On The Road has my full agreement (both books stop off in my wife's hometown of Rocky Mount, NC, where Kerouac's sister lived for years--in On The Road it's disguised as "Testament, Virginia"), even though Gary Snyder was so ticked at Kerouac's portrayal of him that it basically ended their friendship, to the point where I don't think he's ever commented on Kerouac (someone please correct me if that's untrue. I went through my Kerouac phase almost 30 years ago and haven't read much of or about him since).
And, hello Milo, we will have an upright piano in our house sometime soon--my wife just inherited one from her late grandmother. Doubt we'll have any singalongs, though...
LATER: Turns out songs are wrongly named and thus reversed in MP3 download.
[I use print-outs of Xgau's reviews as liner notes in the other side of the CD sleeve. Makes even the C-minuses worth having? If I'm curious for more info, I can find plenty of it online.]
|I can help (Billy Swan)|
We were both wrong (B.Murray)
Cry one more time (Wolf, Justman)
They called it rock (N.Lowe + D.Edmunds)
Clean cut kid (Bob Dylan)
|A.I. on the jukebox (D.Edmunds, W.Birch)|
Suddenly single (Butch Hornsby)
Tongue and cheek (D.Gillepsie)
I feel so bad (Temple, Johnson)
Las Vegas (live) (Gram Parsons, Rick Grech)
recorded and mixed at Easley Recordings, Memphis, TN / produced by Maury O'Rourk
I just downloaded International Affair last week. i was happy to get it after all this time. The website is not exactly high touch, but I had no problems paying by paypal and being issued a download link to my email account.
I have Together on vinyl only, so i may have to follow the link Cyclops graciously provided when I am at home.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.