May 19, 2011

Super Rail

As I reported a while ago I have been very busy - in my spare time - backing up my collection of CD's. Unfortunately this process is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. And the backing-up process itself is not a very pleasant or exciting one. In fact, it is just slightly more entertaining than watching paint dry.
So every now and then I like to take a break. Earlier this week I broke the monotony by listening to and digitising a few cassettes. And I was so pleasantly surprised by one of these that I decided to share it with you in this post.

This cassette is a (more than likely bootleg) version of the first of two lp's released in 1979 on the Disco Stock label in Abidjan by guitarist Djelimadi Tounkara and the Rail Band du Mali. Graeme Counsel has dedicated a page on his website to these two albums, which to be honest leaves me slightly confused. He writes: "Djelimady Tounkara was the lead guitarist of the Rail Band until 1979 when, with Mory Kanté, he left to form L'Orchestre Super Rail Band International in Abidjan. He rejoined the Rail Band in 1984. The above recordings were released on the Disco Stock label and finds the group at their creative peak, with the tracks "Dosoke cery" and "Djiguiya" stand-out numbers. Tounkara is one of West Africa's foremost guitarists, and is well supported by the keyboard solos and the excellent brass arrangements."

These recordings are from 1979, but does this mean that they are in fact by "L'Orchestre Super Rail Band International"?
Although neither the cassette sleeve (right) nor the lp sleeve of the Disco Stock lp (left) mentions the "Orchestre Super Rail Band International" I am inclined to believe the answer to this question is "yes".

The two tracks Graeme cites are both from the second volume*. I am surprised he has left out what I consider to be the highlight of this first volume: the brilliant, passionate version of "Soundiata" by Mory Kanté.

To be honest, I started off on the wrong foot with Mory Kanté. The first songs I heard, in the mid-1980s, were from his European albums, 'culminating' in the hit "Yeke Yeke", - which even gave rise to a sentiment bordering on resentment. It took me more than ten years to get over this negative feeling. Since then I have come to appreciate especially his older work, like for example the wonderful album he made as part of the ensemble of kora legend Batourou Sekou Kouyaté. This version of that Malinké classic "Soundiata" is another of my favourite Mory Kanté songs.

On the three other tracks of this album the emphasis is on the instrumental. The guitar playing by Djelimadi is in the typical Malinké style. Nowadays he regularly accompanies griots from his native Kita (like diva Kandia Kouyaté). On this record too he stays close to his roots.
Notable too are the penetrating organ chords, particularly on "Nama" (another** version of the song about a historic sinking of the ship of the same name on the Niger river?) and "Famadenke" (see my earlier post and the link to the history and lyrics of this song). But I certainly don't want to leave out the horn section, which in my opinion is classical in its own right.

Kosmo KS 230 [Disco Stock DS 7918, 1979)


* which, if you like, I will gladly post later.
** well before the one by National Badema.


ajnabi1957 said...

reI like your site a lot but wanted to comment on Mory Kante's 'Akwaba Beach' album which you didn't like in preference to his earlier non-Euro influenced music. I was just listening to Yeke Yeke and that album this week and love it. It is highly danceable and melodic and fun. I first heard it while working as an Aid worker in Iraq 1991 and we used to dance to it for hours, blasting out of the open doors of our 4X4s! I have to admit the snyths were a bit obnoxious but not overly so and my approach to this is to accept the music on its own, not because of who performs it. As good Euro dance music it is fantastic. As Rail fails!

matt said...

Thanks for this. A-drive usually works without a problem. This time is keeps on reporting that the public file is busy and to try later.

reservatory said...

I was thinking maybe it was a regional problem, but same thing here for the last eight or nine hours. Just the thing you need, right? Sorry.

Anonymous said...

tja, ook hier geeft a-drive het bericht dat je het later moet proberen omdat alles en iedereen bezig zou zijn met dit album downloaden. Uw presentaties hier zijn prachtig, en de vele tussenpauzes neem ik voor lief, kwaliteit van leven, kwaliteit aan muziek, en veel later pas kwantiteit. Dank U vele malen,


WrldServ said...

I've added an extra link to another server.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan

the mf-link works; thanks as alwith.

"Nama" (another** version of the song about a historic sinking of the ship of the same name on the Niger river?

"Histoire vécu 22 September 1971.
La pirogue à moteur que dirigeait Nama Coula lors de la traversée du fleuve Djoliba..." (From the back of the Badèma-cover)


History, lived the 22nd of septembre 1971.
The motorised pirogue, conducted by Nama sunk, when passing the river Djoliba.

14 victims died, 13 of them were girls, engaged to be married, and Nama, the only son of his mother.

The victims went to Kangala, for celebrating the 11. birthday of Mali's independency...

WrldServ said...

@Anonymous (the last one): So Nama was in fact the name of the boy conducting the boat.


I had heard in Mali that Nama was the name of the boat. Some even claimed that almost a hundred persons had died (but this was contradicted by others).
A good example of how history can get distorted by word of mouth...

Anonymous said...

well, that's what the cover says.

As the album is from "Ministére de la jeunesse, des arts et de la culture. Republique due Mali", my guess would be, that that information might be correct.

Maybe someone like ngoni could translate the text of the song???

That album is labeled Mali/Kunkan, but strange enough: with a Ivoire Polydisc -Number (IP 8300)


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this one! I've been after the two original Disco Stock volumes ever since I heard "Djiguiya", "Nama" and "Yobaleya" on the Allo Bamako Oriki cd comp. BTW, I'm surprised you didn't metion you much prefer the sound quality of Nama & Yobaleya on this cassette than on the cd reissue ;). Thanks, man.


Chris Jackson said...

Thanks for this, I love these earlier Malian recordings. I wonder if you or anyone has come across "Dans L'Authenticite" by Salif Keita and Kante Manfila.

WrldServ said...

@Chris: The two "Dans L'Authenticité" lp's are very high up in the cue waiting to be posted on this blog.
There is a huge cue of Malian/Guinean recordings, as I am trying to keep some variation in the posts... Perhaps I will get a few more Malian posts in.

WrldServ said...

@Calumbinho: I must confess I didn't think of the Allo Bamako cd.
It is not a cd that has stuck in my mind.

But you are right: the sound quality on this cassette is better (I am sorry to say)...

Frank "dr.crackle" said...


thank you very much for your work!

i only want to add that the song "Soundiata" were not included in the vinyl issue of the first volume 'Famadenke'(the one with the lilac cover you posted). i had this one in my collection. according to the information given at "Soundiata" wasn't included in the second volume, too.


WrldServ said...

@Frank: That explains why Graeme did not mention it.

But this appears to leave an album with very unequal sides. Or is one of the tracks ("Nama") a lot longer on the lp?

You forgot the ".au" in the URL of Graeme's site, by the way.

Koronya Mwambia said...

Thank You

Frank "dr.crackle" said...

Yes, that could be an explanation for not mentioning 'Soundiata'.
All tracks on the record have the (approx.) same duration as the ones on your tape. Tracklisting on the record is A1 Famadenké; A2 Yobalema; B Nama. I will gladly send you some scans. Let me know!


Frank "dr.crackle" said...

BTW: yes, it would be very great to listen to volume 2 of this little series!! :)

Anonymous said...

I definitely join Frank's request for Volume 2, if anyone out there has it...?


Sanaag said...

Thanks a lot! Hartelijk bedankt!

Jim said...

This version of Soundiata seems to be an abridged version of the track "Soundiata L'Exil" available on the first Rail Band compilation (also called Soundiata) issued by Sterns a few years ago. The full version goes on for a whopping 28 minutes and is absolutely wonderful.