December 02, 2008
A few days ago I stumbled upon a record on ebay for a ridiculous price of $300. It has since expired, but there are others offering this "Amazing manding LP recorded in Abidjan, very similar to rail band de Bamako" for a mere $266. Alternatively you can go over to another version of ebay, and get the same record for an astonishing bargain price of $99.
On the other hand you also download the same recording here. I won't charge you a cent. Spend the money you save on a christmas present for your loved ones, or on one (or all!) of the Oriki albums.
I am not saying the record is no good. On the contrary, it is a great lp, by one of the erstwhile national orchestras of Mali, Les Messagers du Mali. It was originally released on the Musique Mondiale label in Abidjan (MAD 011, cover -reconstructed from the ebay photo- on the right ), but I bought the cassette version in Bamako in 1988 (cover below). I remember the seller was reluctant to sell it to me. It didn't have an original cover and I probably wouldn't like it, he argued. I countered by lowering my bid, and got it for an absurdly low price. Absurdly low, given the quality of the music.
The repertoire of Les Messagers consists mainly of Malinké classics, from the Siramori Diabaté line of traditionals. Tracks like "Baninde" (on this lp "Dianyemoko"), "Kanou" and "Signaro". What I like about the orchestra (apart from the presence of a solid horns section) is the enthousiasm with which they attack the songs.