Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mind-Blowing Sounds from Mali

Since its foundation in 1970 as the official orchestra of Mali's National Railway Company, the Rail Band has occupied a prominent place in the firmament of West African music, and through its ranks have passed some of the most respected musicians in the region. The band's Affair Social (Sacodis LS-25, 1979) is such a spectacular, mind-blowing achievement that I figured one of the other African music blogs must have posted it long ago. But apparently not, so here it is!

Affair Social was recorded during a tumultuous period for the Rail Band, relocated to Abidjan, Ivory Coast from Bamako and rechristened the Super Rail Band International. Salif Keita, the group's lead singer, had decamped in 1972 to found Les Ambassadeurs du Motel and later gained world fame as part of the World Music™ craze. He was replaced by Mory Kante, an equally gifted vocalist, who by the time Affair Social was recorded had also departed for a solo career. Other members of the "classic" Rail Band lineup, among them founder Tidiani Koné, had similarly moved on.

Perservering, though, was Djelimady Tounkara, one of Africa's greatest guitarists, who reestablished the band with new personnel, none of whom, unfortunately, is credited in the liner notes of Affair Social. The Super Rail Band International have continued performing and recording to this day, still under the able leadership of Tounkara. Enjoy!

Download Affair Social as a zipped file here.


ngoni said...

Thank you very much John I love the title of the post, really true, after several listens during the last days I have not managed to know the content of the album, after a few minutes of attention my mind blows in any direction until the end of the album, maybe It is not one of the masterpieces of the Super or the Rail Band but it is magical.
I think the staff should be very similar to the other Super Rail album with Ouedraogo Mamadou published in Sacodis in 1979 (LS-24).
At least there is Djeli Moussa Kouyaté in the 2nd guitar (recognizable in the photo the second from the left), the keyboard sounds like Cheick Tidiane Seck, surely we could identify other musicians spending more time, but it is not possible now.
Also interesting is the gentleman standing in the center of the photo, I think it's the manager, Mady Sanfo.

Anonymous said...

What a treat but as i was listening to it,I was thinking, 'I know this'. It was all bundled together with other stuff for the CD Allo Bamako. So much better to have the music here in it's rightful place, especially as the cover to the CD was really not very evocative of any thing where as this is.

Sanaag said...

Great post, many thanks!

Glazunov said...

World Music TM, indeed. There's something artificial (to me, at least) in throwing together a number of artists from different cultures, letting them noodle around in general, and claiming the result shows that All Music is One.