I always get a little depressed when I have to report that another one of my musical heroes has passed away. Maybe this has to do with the realisation of my own mortality, - who knows?
On the other hand it is very good to hear that others are still alive and well. As is the case with our musical hero from Burkina Faso: Amadou Ballaké. I received a mail from the very active french writer and 'voyageur' Florent Mazzoleni, who has recently visited Ballaké at his home and sent me these two photos of a very relaxed looking grand maître.
It seems a good idea to grab this opportunity to post two singles which have been posted earlier on the unrelentingly brilliant Orogod blog. In my humble opinion it appears to me that the copies I have of these singles are slightly better than Oro's.
Plus I would like to draw your attention to an anomaly with regard to the titles. On Sacodis SCD 68 the sleeve carries the title "Simbaraba", while the label on the record itself has a title "Apopllo".
A closer study of the song reveals that Ballaké's version bares a strong resemblance to the song "Apollo" by the Horoya Band (Syliphone SYL 535). About the origin of this song I have heard several explanations. Guinean Sekouba Bambino Diabaté claimed that this was a song by his mother, singer Mariama Samoura, when he creatively recycled it into his 'hit single' "Kassouma Ma". Others claim that this song was composed by the Horoya Band to commemorate the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Personally I suspect Horoya Band were the first to record the song, while it seems possible that Sekouba Bambino's mother was the first to sing it. So both may be true...
Likewise, the B-side of SCD 68, "Kelebila", is a song of which many - mostly traditional - versions exist, and perhaps even more than of "Apollo". I would like to especially mention the version by the legendary Sory Kandia Kouyaté, but I am sure I have heard it on several occasions in Mali (although I can't recall who was singing it...).
One of the great things about Ballaké is his diversity and his capacity to shine in any musical style. While SCD 68 contains Mandé (malinke, mandingo etc.) style songs, SCD 69 has two tracks in a very different, probably Mossi* style. The song "Warba" always conjures up images of people walking backwards, while "Liguiry" evokes the contrary: a feeling of running (too) fast down a hill....
I sincerely hope more Ballaké will surface in the future. I for one will be looking out for (and forward to) it!
Sacodis SCD 68
Sacodis SCD 69
* and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong!
EDIT August 9, 2015: The links have been renewed!