This Rough Guide illuminates the fullest-fattest cream of West African music that has passed through the doors of Riverboat Records HQ over the last twenty-five years. Stretching some eighteen countries from Mauritania in the North to Congo in the South, West Africa is a place of many music's. This selection focuses on the powerhouses of Senegal and Mali in the main. Enjoy our handpicked cuts and get ready to get knee-deep in the archive.
Our journey begins with the ever illustrious Nuru Kane of Senegal via Paris. "Afrika" is a bubbling track with tincture of mbalax and gnawa swagger mixed through with influences from Nuru's allegiance to the Baye Fall brotherhood of Sufism. Samba Touré welcomes us to Mali next. "Alabina" reflects the legacy of Ali Farka Touré with bending blues notes and loopy cyclical grooves. Sticking in Mali "Farinya Manji" was recorded by the orchestra of The Bamako School for the Blind – the very same educational institution where superstars Amadou & Mariam first met. There must be something in the water at that school; this track is irresistibly juicy. "Kaye Waxama" explores the Fula traditions from the South of Senegal by songsmith Daby Balde.
Etran Finatawa's "Kel Tamasheck" reflects the roots of two Saharan nomadic peoples joined together in music-making, the Woddaabe and Tuareg. Bamako's blues bad-boy Anansy Cissé delivers gentle track "Fati Ka" next bolstering Mali's offering on this album. The Bidjoi Sisters offer up the relaxed track "Chantal," produced by Sally Nyolo. Mory Kanté from Guinea shot to fame with his danceable, fast-paced popped-up music, the vibe on "Mama" is no exception to his trademark style.