Dimanche A Bamako - Amadou & Mariam
The blues suffered through a couple of miserable decades during the 70’s and 80’s which was about the time I was introduced to them, at least the west coast variety. Incessant guitar wanking over sped up twelve bar, glossed over with horns and keys … it had it’s moments but it could also sound like Huey Lewis and The News or worse. Then a friend turned me on to the real deal from legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson and I finally started to appreciate where this music was coming from. Later still, a copy of ‘Talking Timbuktu’ with Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure came into my hands and I got a small taste of the true root of the blues. Mali’s blind couple, Amadou & Mariam are pioneers of a contemporary blues expression that’s firmly grounded in the traditions of its African heritage. Amadou says, “We are always very open to sharing with the others, ready for meeting people. It is always necessary to create fusions.” Making those connections as producer of Dimanche a Bamako, their new album, is none other than global music pilgrim, Manu Chao. His minimalist, urban acoustic approach to music breathes air and expands the spaces in between Amadou & Mariam’s full-bodied blues, helping to create the most enjoyable global release of the year. Such high praise comes with a certain amount of corroboration. That BBC bastion of world music, Charlie Gillet suggests his listeners buy several copies of this disc as gifts because the music is too good not share. It’s inspiring that a sightless husband and wife team can so clearly see the path to a brighter future, not just for the blues but globally conscious music in general.