Royal Band de Thiés/Thiossane Ablaye Ndiaye
Old-School Senegal Lives
Royal Band de Thiés: Kadior Demb (Teranga Beat)
The angel is an Athenian photographer and mad Afropop crate digger named Adamantios Kafetzis, who seems to run Teranga Beat pretty much by himself. In the case of this early mbalax unit from the now disused railway hub where Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of Wood is set, there turned out to be multiple reels, with this circa-1979 title the first of several unreleased albums. The Royal Band aren't Baobab or Super Étoile, not Kafetzis's Gambian discovery Karantamba either. But their projected debut is intense, gorgeous, and hyperactive without rushing the climax once. With gruff mbalax shouter Secka, still in the vocal ambit of Baobab's dearly departed Laye M'Boup, balanced by high, sweet natural salsero James Gadiaga, who on this record sticks to mbalax's tamas-and-horn-stabs program, they suggest that Baobab and Super Étoile weren't just two very different great bands. They led and inspired a scene. A MINUS
Thiossane Ablaye Ndiaye: Thiossane Ablaye Ndiaye (Syllart/Sterns)
In which a strong-voiced, historically-minded, salsa-loving Senegalese guitarist and painter records a suitably impressive elder's debut at 74, with his steadfast gravity the linchpin and the band the reason non-Wolof speakers will listen. With Xalam, OK Jazz, and Africando recruits on board, it's basically an Orchestra Baobab one-off with the focus on saxophonist Thierno Koyaté rather than crazier saxophonist Issa Cissoko and the Xalam and OK Jazz guys pitching in where Togo-based Barthelemy Attisso normally moves heaven and earth. The hypnotic clave of "Bouki Ndiour" and the warm lyricism of "Arawane Ndiaye" might heighten your expectations unduly. But hell‑-take a chance. B PLUS
I don't see it as "mistakes", so much as "Xgau and I not having the exact same tastes". Also, in what way do personal discoveries demand a larger upfront investment than Xgau-approved albums?
On the poll ballot, I'm torn between listing personal favorites or trying to make a list of what I genuinely think are the best albums Xgau hasn't reviewed or gave B or lower to. (I decided to exclude anything HM of B+ from consideration, although that cuts out plenty of beauts.) Keep going back and forth, Good news is I still have a month to decide.
P.S. Since Bradley says OK to campaign, gotta say I've loved listening to Minor Threat/early Fugazi for the first time in years.
I accept all requests, but ask that language be kept clean, etc.
While our standard, agreed upon practice is to not reveal our poll choices (Edit: meaning entire 1 through 10 list) before balloting closes, I am intensely curious as to the artists y'all are considering for the Anti-poll. In that regard, I'm gonna list some of the artists I'm working on without also mentioning the specific album title. These are not my Top Ten, since 3 or 4 not listed here are locks that I have already included in other polls. Some of these will make it, some won't. All are under consideration. Alphabetically:
J. Geils Band
Iron City Houserockers
k. d. lang
Somewhat Classic Rock Whitebread now that I look at it, but there you go. I'm quite proud of most and deeply in love with about a third.
And also, the culturally perfect moment of the day today was hearing Iris DeMent's "The Shores of Jordan" at lunch at Cracker Barrel. I only hope the whole chain bought the rights and paid her well.
On the eternal beauty/art for the ages/genius thread, just wanted to say that it is entirely possible that those living in the future will conclude that the Beatles were s--t and real genius lay with Badfinger, or-um, the Dave Clark Five. We will be all be dead and, despite much rolling in our graves, churning in our urns, etc., we will be completely unable to do anything about this. The then-living will make whatever use of the past best suits them, and, if they are at all like us, they will not let our notions unduly trouble their needs/wants/desires. That's the compensatory power that comes with all of the hassles of actually being alive. Not sure which, present or future, is the privledged take on things. Not sure if it matters. Maybe all that matters is the miracle of finding something present to you that quickens your spirit and makes you tingle and flash and jump around. If it is something from 1823 or something from last week, well then, so be it. As the CG keeps proving, there is great stuff out there, much of it--but by no means all of it--unjustly obscure, that we, the now-living, can vibrate to, and maybe that's as much as you can know or hope for.
It's appaling to remember that America at one time had this great treasure--blues music--to me as powerful an art as anything I can think of, and it was, for most white people and for many non-white people, trash, worthless, and it took the far-removed Brits to show us the world-shaking grandure of what we had just down the street. That makes absolutely no sense to me, but it is, damn it, human all-too-human nature. Seeing is all, but seeing is often enabled by distances of space and time. Not sure what uses, for pleasure, edification, release, etc, if any, the yet-to-be-alive will make of Wussey or Pink or the Fab Four. All we can know, I think, is what they do for us. Claims to know what will matter to the ages are, well, let's jsut say not very helpful I think.
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.