Thursday, August 21, 2008


With pieces by A.V. Club contributor Michaelangelo Matos as my guide, I've been using a portion of my eMusic downloads for the last couple of months to pick up some knowledge of African music. It's such a huge field, fitting for a huge continent, and there's a lot to here. Basically I've just been cherry-picking a few acknowledged classics here and there and I've yet to find something I didn't like. (Which tends to happen when you just cherry-pick classics.)

But, anyway, Le Rail Band: Where has this music been all my life? They're a Mali act formed in 1970, sponsored by the National Railway Company, and given a home at the Buffet Bar at Bamako's Sation Hotel. (I'm using this as my source.) Their formation was apparently part of a government initiative to preserve traditional Manding music.

I know how to find Mali on the map but know little of Manding culture. I know this singer's name—it's founding singer Salif Keita, who would later pass the baton to Mory Kante—but I have no idea what he's singing about. All I know: These guitars kill me and I've been listening to Le Rail Band (a.k.a. Super Rail Band, a.k.a. Bamako Rail Band, a.k.a. Super Rail Band of the Buffet Hotel de la Gare, Bamako) almost every day lately.

Here's why:

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