December 08, 2008


After the lingering demise of Super Biton from Ségou (Mali), which set in after the European tour in 1986 and the subsequent retirement of longtime chef d'orchestre Amadou Bah, most of the bandmembers tried to save their musical hides. Some left for other orchestras, others embarked on solo 'projects'. One of the more succesful of these projects was one by a singer who hadn't joined the orchestra on the European tour.

I have never found out why Papa Gaoussou Diarra, a.k.a. Papus was left out of the line-up. Maybe he had fallen out of favour with the regional authorities. Or maybe he was left behind for musical reasons; because Papa Diarra had a secondary role with Biton, and was not one of the front men. During concerts he usually sang the 'lesser' tracks, which with Biton -as an orchestra from a Bambara region*- meant the Malinké classics.

The title track of this cassette was quite a hit in the late 1990. And I can imagine why. The whole cassette has an unpretentiousness, and (I am told) deals with everyday subjects of everyday people. The tunes are at least related to the repertoire of Super Biton, without being direct copies; the second track is the exception to this rule, as it is a version of the track Biton played at the last (old style) Biennale in 1988.
But all in all it's a very enjoyable cassette.

EDIT December 10, 2010: I see our friend Ngoni has posted a video if the song "Bila Siraba (52)". The copy of this video I have is nowhere near this quality...

*and I know there are other ethncial groups in the Ségou region...


Anonymous said...

Nice! Is he still singing?

NGONI said...

I like it very much, is in top of hearing by second week.
It is fantastic the rhythm of Segou and the Tendoro, but the truth I believe that in the rhythms Malinké,he needs a little more voice, however in the quick bambara songs, is fantastic.

The group is a compact band and with much life ,I would like to know his formation.

The album is very well recorded, seems to me that the recording studios WANDA belong to Salif Keitá.
In aim, a unknown jewel, thank you very much.

NGONI said...

Maybe in the video,is the secret of why,Papus was left out of the Biton line-up.

WrldServ said...

Hahaha... Certainly not. The video is of a far later date. I have a slightly different version, by the way.
Thanks for your - as always - useful addition!