The cassette I would like to share with you in this post was a major source of inspiration for me to want to dig deeper into the music of Mali. I copied it from a Malian living in Amsterdam in the mid-1980s. I remember he complained that a lot of Malian music was "talk talk talk". I assumed he meant he was no fan of the "Regard Sur Le Passé" genre. I, however, was new to this phenomenon, and was - and still am - intrigued by the combination of epic and music. The epic part was (and still largely remains) a mystery to me, but the music.... Well, what can I say? It was love at first hearing.
A little later I discovered that some of the tracks of this cassette were also available on lp. The lp being the Bärenreiter-Musicaphon version of a Malian original, by the Orchestre Régional de Ségou. The cassette had "Super Biton" written on it, but it was clear that this was the same ensemble.
To be honest, I still prefer the cassette.
And not just because of the absence of the irritating fake applause on "Da Monzon". But mainly because of the titles on the B-side.
The cassette is undisputable proof of the Greatness of the regional orchestre of Ségou. An orchestra that can come up with a majestic, or even imperial, beginning like the one of the second or the fifth song on the B-side, should have at least a museum to preserve their legacy and to glorify their name.
Unfortunately nothing of the sort has happened to Super Biton. As I reported in an earlier post the orchestra fell apart in the late 1980s, and it is nowadays hard to find any traces of the orchestra in Mali, other than indirect references*.
I hasten to add though that attempts are being made to revive the orchestra, albeit in a leaner version. I'll keep you informed.
At one point I found someone who gave me the titles of the tracks on the B-side, but unfortunately the list got lost somewhere between Bamako and Amsterdam, along with assorted other items of my luggage. Perhaps there is someone who can help us out with these?
As a bonus I add another version of "Bakari Dian", which is from a cassette recorded at my request in 1990 at Radio Mali. It is perhaps hard to recognise, but it is - unless I am very much mistaken - the same version as the one on "Regard sur le passé à travers le présent".
"Bakari Dian" (Malian cassette earlier 1980s)
And finally as an extra bonus I am adding a FLAC version of the Bärenreiter-Musicaphon lp.
BM 30 L 2601
* and while on the subject of videos, you may want to take a look at this 1990 video by the last remnants of Biton. Certainly worthwhile.
EDIT November 13, 2011: I had to change the title of this post, as I have retrieved the names of the songs of this cassette. In meeting the members of the orchestra in Bamako, I was able to sit down with them and listen to the cassette. Toussaint Siané, with the help of the other singers (and especially doyen Mamadou 'Coulou' Coulibaly), wrote down the missing titles. The version with the titles can be found here: Bakari Dian (Malian cassette 198x)