With a short tour the month, time to get to grips with La Diff?©rence of the mighty Salif Keita who never disappoints his legion of fans.
Like Mulatu Astatke’s Mulatu Steps Ahead, Keita recorded La Diff?©rence in three different locations, Bamako, Los Angeles and Beirut in this case; (Boston, Addis and London in Astatke’s case) and I think this is a clear recognition how both artists, getting late on in life, are really internationally recognized for their leading positions in world music.
The album comes straight into Songlines’ World Music Album Chart at No. 6 as he “revisits some classic songs”. This is said to be third of a trilogy of acoustic albums, following on from 2002′s Moffou and M’Bemba released in October 2005. He certainly was excellent when he form the meat in the sandwich between Tony Allen and Awadi on the African Soul Rebel tour a couple of years ago (see review of Poole Lighthouse).
Kalif is, of course, the singer and song writer from Mali who is not only the ‘Golden Voice of Africa’ but he’s also a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita; and happens to be albino.
All the proceeds of this release are going to his charity to fight discrimination against albinos which is what the title track is all about, ‘La Diff?©rence’ on which, to emphasis the point, he has recorded in different languages. Whilst that gets the message over, it’s good that that’s the limit of the English language on the album as the ‘golden voice’ is not so golden en Anglais.
With that minor gripe out of the way, the other problem is that many fans will not be able to listen to this album without thinking of Radio DJ Charlie Gillett, (see Charlie Gillett – 1942 – 2010). Whether it was on his Radio London or World Service shows, you can instinctively here is voice eulogising about these tracks; particularly the beautiful ‘Folon’ and ‘Ekolo D’Amour’.
Because of the acoustic angle, Nigel Williamson (he of Songlines) compared the arrangements on La Diff?©rence with those MTV Unplugged sessions in the 1990s (that did so much to widen the audiences of Nirvana, The Cure and the like) but they never came up with arrangements like on ‘Samigna’ and ‘Papa’.
With a short European Tour starting today (see dates below), Salif Keita is “La Diff?©rence” and whilst Songlines are also recommending Next Stop… Soweto and Nigeria Special Vol. 2 (so do we), don’t miss out on this one or Astatke’s (this week’s Metro album of the week – we’re so mainstream now?)
Salif Keita – La Difference
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01 Apr 2010 – Lyon (Auditorium) France
07 Apr 2010 – Barbican London, London Salif Keita + support at 7:30pm Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS Tel: 020 7638 8891 www.barbican.org.uk
09 Apr 2010 – Sciez (CAS) France
10 Apr 2010 – Vincennes (Centre Culturel Georges Pompidou) France
12 Apr 2010 – Paris (Olympia) France
14 Apr 2010 – Luxembourg (Philarmonie) Luxembourg
16 Apr 2010 – Villiers le Bel (Centre Culturel) France
18 Apr 2010 – Moscow (Moscow Performing Art Center) Russia
Reviewed: Salif Keita – La Diff?©rence (Decca)
1. La Diff?©rence (4:22)
2. San Ka Na (5:29)
3. Seydou (6:05)
4. Gaffou (7:43)
5. Folon (3:54)
6. Ekolo D’Amour (3:56)
7. Dj?©l?© (4:16)
8. Samigna (7:10)
9. Papa (7:02)
www.songlines.co.uk Issue 67 April/May 2010 The Official World Music Album Chart, p. 13