The first time I consciously heard the music of Mamoutou Mangala Camara the owner of the cassette was very reluctant to tell me the name of the singer. "He is an alcoholic", she said. "He has left the music now, and lives as a drug-addict in Paris", others told me. Some even claimed that he had died from an overdose.
Fifteen years later, Mangala Camara seems to have come out on top. He is an acclaimed star of Malian music, winner of the Tamani D'Or in 2007 and "almost a mix of Mick Jagger, James Brown and Bob Marley" (according to this article). He was one of the stars of the Festival on the Niger in 2007 and 2008, and again in the recently held 2009 Festival. But going by this interview, he still seems to be surrounded by controversy.
His 2006 CD "Minye Minye" has been a huge success in Mali. But, call me awkward, I still prefer the first cassette I heard, and which I am posting here. The cassette was, as far as I can ascertain, first released in 1993 as "Complaint Mandingue Blues" (Badaban BAD 5560), but this version - with exactly the same tracks - is called "Yougou Sague" and is dated 1997.
Mangala seems to have had quite a career before this cassette. And with his extraordinary voice, I am sure we will hear more about him in the near future.