Some retro labels release old albums that only came out in small quantities. Some of them release old albums that only came out in small places. Teranga Beat puts hands on hips and chuckles indulgently and releases an old album that never came out at all, winning the obscurity game so decisively that I don’t know how anyone else is even going to hold their heads up in future.
The Royal Band de Thiès was a Senegalese two-man operation, founded in 1972 by Mapathé Gadiaga and Adama Seck, who named it after their hometown, Thiès, and had some local success in clubs and on cassettes before going on to other collaborations. Musically, there’s no reason why this first album should not have been released: the Afro-Euro-Latin melange of the mbalax sound is fast and complex—brass and percussion waterfalling urgently in “Mariama”, instruments in “Cherie Coco” kicking like fierce rabbits in a box—and even in the mellower numbers it retains a restless, untamed sort of itching speed, a challenge thrown in front of the dancing nightclub audience of Thiès—don’t you dare look bored.
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