Review : Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali
YahooAlthough this album's cover features a sticker proclaiming the involvement of famed Mali-phile Damon Albarn, we really have Manu Chao to thank for the current prominence of Amadou & Mariam. Not only did Chao produce and sing on their 2004 album, "Dimanche à Bamako", he also cemented the notion that the duo, like Manu himself, were producing global, rather than world, music. These weren't songs from or defined by a place - they were far-reaching, multi-lingual, influenced by and encapsulating everything and back again.
Which would be astonishing enough were it not for the now fiftysomething duo's backstory. They met at the Malian Institute For The Blind in 1976. Mariam had lost her sight at the age of five, Amadou at 15. They went on to record countless cassette albums of Malian blues, becoming stars in their home country and France, before hooking up with Manu. And, of course, the obvious irony is that along the way, they've developed music with real vision, that makes connections between African blues and European electro-pop, between '70s funk and gamelan. Truly modern global pop that doesn't recognize barriers or limitations....full text
UncutIt’s fair to say that Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia fit rather uncomfortably into world music. The pair, who met at a school for the blind in the Malian capital 36 years ago, gleefully admit to being as influenced by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, European techno and American hip hop as they are by the jeli griots of Mali.
When they first visited Paris in the early 1990s, instead of being placed in the musical ghetto marked “musiques du monde”, their publishing company immediately got them to co-write with French rock stars like M. Ever since they’ve been marketed internationally as a pop group. They headline at stand-up rock venues to amazingly diverse audiences. They’ve played Lollapalooza and Latitude. They recorded the official FIFA theme for the 2006 World Cup. They’ve been produced by rebel French rock rocker Manu Chao. They even toured last year with the Scissor Sisters – a feat that, say, Salif Keita might have problems pulling off with dignity....full text
GuardianIf you hadn't ever heard a record by this Malian husband and wife duo, but had only read of their initial meeting at Bamako's Institut des Jeunes Aveugles in the punk rock year of 1976, and the heart-warming showbiz odyssey that led them to their current exalted status as improbable figureheads of African music's commercial upsurge, it would be all too easy to think of Amadou & Mariam as a kind of Afropop Peters and Lee. But while the ability to dispense feelgood vibrations from within a doubly reinforced stockade of blindness and domestic felicity has been a feature of their ever-widening allure, it is the spindly irresistibility of their music that is the most important thing about them....full text
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