I am taking a risk here, in assuming the title of the last track of this lp is misspelt (or misspelled) and the actual title should be "waso" with one "s", meaning "showing off" or "boasting". You will find many songs in Malian music telling you that showing off is not acceptable ("waso magni").
The Rail Band is not one of those bands that can be accused of showing off. On the contrary, they have been very modest in the long time of their existence. Forever linked to their 'alumni' Mory Kanté and Salif Keita (and the latter only was a member for two years!), the band has struggled through the decades, playing at the Buffet de la Gare in the centre of Bamako. And I can assure you that this was not always the 'hottest club in town'....
Lately, with the release of the Belle Epoque series (of which the second is my favourite, by the way) they have been rightly brought into the limelight. But there is still a lot of ground to be covered for a band that has been in existence for 40 years this year.
Consider this album my 'drop in the ocean'. Recorded for the Sacodis label in Abidjan in 1979, it is remarkable how close the orchestra has managed to remain to their live sound. Listening to these tracks I have no problem imagining myself sitting at a table at the Buffet de la Gare, a rapidly warming beer within reach plus the inevitable 'loose women'.... The cool but decisive guitar of Djelimady Tounkara, (the late) Tidiani Koné, who founded the band, dodging around him on sax and leading the horns, the mainly doubled vocals...
It is no wonder they lasted so long!
Half and Half: Tostan and Bintou Sidibe
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