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Lobi Traoré

Bamako Nights: Live at Bar Bozo 1995

(Glitterbeat; US: 15 Nov 2013; UK: 18 Nov 2013)

If this is not the greatest live Malian pub rock album of all time then I want to hear the other one. Even the drunk guy who sings along in “Ni Tugula Mogo Mi Ko” is a contributor. The French producer Yves Wernet recorded Bamako late at night in “an unglamorous, downtown nightspot, dark and often crowded. It didn’t cater to elites, but working people.” The atmosphere is wedged and yet the sound rings like churchbells even while Traoré is piling on the butting flange in his rock crescendoes. He liked AC/DC, explains the blurb. Yes, all right. And he can float these cresting noises on a bubbling pad of Bambaran guitar-mutter. His longform timing is exceptional—he came into his career in a wedding band. Highlights? All of it. “Dunuya”. The lazy lava that starts the album. That spastic back-and-forth right at the end, before he signs off. So different to the sound he was going to cultivate on his first Western release six years later. Hello to the man in his element.

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