Fatoumata Diawara/The Lijadu Sisters
Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou (World Circuit)
A Wassoulou speaker who was born in Côte d'Ivoire and raised in Mali before pursuing an acting career in France, the subtlest desert diva to date is softer and warmer than the not dissimilar Rokia Traoré. Coming down as it does on the sleepy side of the line between entrancing and lulling that's walked by so many world-music hopefuls, her subtlety isn't necessarily a plus, and those who'd prefer a safer, cheaper taste can opt for Nonesuch's download-only Kanou EP, which highlights three of her more distinguished songs. But as it happens, my two favorites‑-the livelier "Bakanoba" and the twistier "Boloko"‑-are on this Nick Gold-produced import. And I promise I only found out "Boloko" opposed female circumcision after I'd connected to the music. B PLUS
The Lijadu Sisters: Mother Africa (Knitting Factory)
There was apparently a Shanachie best-of I never heard back in '84, but in this heyday of obscurantist crate-digging, now the entire four-album catalogue of these beauteous second cousins of Fela and Wole Soyinka will be released over a one-year span. The debut was Danger and it's lame, English-language moralism further weakening wan attempts at the pop equanimity the Shirelles and lesser females achieved so sweetly so long before. On this follow-up, though, the sustaining grooves the title half-promises buoy gentle soprano harmonies attached to messages I know enough not to be curious about. Instead there are the thrumming pressure drums, the clarinet obbligato that could be a soprano sax obbligato, the guitar solo that could be a synth solo, the spoken praise of the moon delivered by multi-instrumental mastermind Biddy Wright. All of which, I suspect, could be readily accommodated by a new best-of that also isolated a keeper on Danger itself. B PLUS
(1 There's certain occupations, like writing about the arts, that a peculiar number of people who don't do it nevertheless have a firm conviction that they understand how much work it is. Because these occupations often involve "entertainment" or "thrills," they are considered lightweight. You tell me what you do for a living and I can run it through the same Oversimplicity Machine and you should be at least a tad annoyed and insulted by the results.
heart disease is ... preventable(2 I know, way off music, but isn't that a little extreme, Cam? Of course we could do an enormous amount to reduce the incidence -- when old-age pneumonia becomes the No. 1 killer of Americans we will have reason to celebrate -- but human-type critters who did everything right have been keeling over suddenly since they fell out of trees.
(3 Facebook. You'll never see my mug there. I just read a delightful piece in The Economist about how The North Face sued a wise-ace company that had decided to call itself The South Butt. Should start a website called "Buttpamphlet -- the site with millions of members that tells you nothing at all about them because they want it that way."
Speaking of Facebook (like I do in tail-ends of dead threads), I'd just like to say here now, because I don't want to get into any discussion about it, that if any of my 113 Friends, a couple dozen of whom happen to be EWers, notice their Friend count down by a digit, it's because I have deactivated my account. I have not unfriended anybody. I have been unfriended by everybody, by my own volition. One of my probably twice-yearly tweets, from yesterday:
Deactivated my Facebook: too much busyness there, too distracting, too alluring, too much to try to keep track of, too much of not enough...Now that by force I have kicked the habit of checking out what's up at facebook every fallow moment on-line, I'm feeling curiously liberated. Sure, I can think of things I am missing (Jessica Amanda Salmonson mostly), but how much of it can't I live without?
What's the zip, Cam? Go NC- though I'm
a Big East guy at the end of the day.
Just as we feared, Whitney was lit up like a xmas tree just before the drowning.
I thank Drake for opening the door for me to John Martyn.
I thank Drake for closing the door for me to the Weeknd.
Dear Mr. Christgau-please, please, please-if I send you a CD -would you review it for me. And you can keep it.
Yay! My Bloody Valentine is getting reissued. Hope they sound great.
My ears are still ringing from seeing them live 20 years ago!
P.S. Not 100% true, but here's the true part of the story: Back in the early 90s, I posted Want Lists in Goldmine magazine and Perfect Sound Forever founder Jason Gross wrote me a letter saying he noticed a lot of the LPs (that's right - vinyl!) that I was looking for were Xgau-recommended. Soon after, a friendship was born and we decided to meet up in NYC and see a concert together. We met at the Ritz in 1992 for an MBV show and it was obscenely loud - even louder than the Plasmatics show I survived 10 years earlier. I remember thanking the Lord that Jason had an extra pair of earplugs (which barely helped) and towards the end of the show, which seemed like one long LOUD feedback extravaganza, the guy standing next to us started screaming at the top of lungs, "More Pain! More Pain!". Unforgettable. For at least a week after the show, the only CD that I could listen to (or that I could hear) was Loveless.
PPS Can't wait for the reissue.
Does "Beware Of The Boys" still hold up for anyone? I remember a family sing along in the car one time back then, but now I'm not so sure.
What do you make of the "I just want you/To know that you are really/Special" chorus in Snoop Dogg's "Beautiful"? Since the song is about casual sex, that repeated line rings manipulative and dishonest. I really like the intro, the simple but effective beat, the other vocals, the false ending. And I could give it up to Snoop just as recognition of his "cultural currency". But what I hear unspoken after "Special" is "Whatever your name was" and that's just too sleazy for me. Anyone else? And does anybody else care?
Also, can we all agree that the flip side to "Me and Guiliani" is a D-?
Somebody more pedantic than I, should they exist, can clarify if R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" - promo 2002, full release 2003 - is poll-eligible
Has this been clarified yet? It's kind of important. And so is this follow-up question -- Does "Ignition/Ignition (Remix)" exist as a single track anywhere? I like it best when it runs from one right to the other, but maybe not enough to use two votes on it.
And bradluen: Did you mean Lumidee's "Never Leave You"?
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.