The first Amadou Balaké album I heard was "A Paris - Djala Songo". I can't say I went wild. On the contrary, it took me quite a while to get over it.
In those days there were still loads of traces of the golden era of African orchestras. There was an unbridled optimism of the treasures still waiting to be unveiled. And Paris (i.e. the Parisian producers and recording studios) was seen by some as the neo-colonialiser, the corruptor of authentic African culture.
I suppose there was an element of truth in this.
Paris did set a standard when it came to the use of modern electronics in African music, and in doing so initiated a process which led to the end of the large horn sections, and therefore to the end of the great African orchestras.
But over time my negative view of this album has mellowed. I have learnt to listen less to the irritating arrangements & instrumentation, and more to Balaké.
He is as always brilliant, consistently himself. If you are able to look through the electronics and canned choruses it is still the same Balaké as when he recorded for Club Voltaïque de Disques, or when he sang about the evil money can cause in "Wariko" on "Afro-Charanga" and on "Baya".
Pacho Rada – Sipote Luto Discos Fuentes 1973
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