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Dimanche a Bamako

4.8 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 2, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amadou and Mariam are a middle-aged blind couple from Mali who have been singing and playing together since the 1970s, when they met at a school for the blind in Bamako. For years, they have enjoyed modest success, with Amadou playing guitar alongside Salif Keita in Les Ambassadeurs, and the couple's own R&B fusion albums notching up moderate sales in France as well as Africa. But they were hardly celebrities. Suddenly, all that has changed. Manu Chao heard them and was so impressed that he offered to produce, co-write and even perform on their latest album, Dimanche … Bamako. The album is a slice of Afro-pop heaven, stippled with Chao's stylistic fingerprints (street noises, wailing sirens, reggae-lite, sonic trickery). Nonesuch. 2005.


Having issued a handful of excellent Afro-rock albums on small independent labels in the last few years, which have attracted attention within the world music community, Amadou and Miriam are poised to break out with Dimanche A Bamako, arguably the best album of a career that goes back 30 years. Produced by mischievous French/Spanish pop star Manu Chao (who even co-wrote and sings on a few tunes), the album fuses the couple's dynamic grooves with the producer's signature everything-and-the-kitchen sink backgrounds. This is truly a collaboration of like-minded individuals: Chao's own rabid multi-culti mix of styles enhances the blind couple's guitar-driven mix of blues-rock and African percussion, as well as Latin, dance and reggae grooves. Highlights include the impossibly catchy "Senegal Fast Food" and the percolating "Coulibaly," while the couple's political bent comes out on "Politic Amagni." Truly an album with a global perspective, there is something for everyone here, and rather than diluting the stew, it makes it all the more tasty. ­ --Tad Hendrickson

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. M'Bife
  2. M'Bife Balafon
  3. Coulibaly
  4. La Realite
  5. Senegal Fast Food
  6. Artistiya
  7. La Fete au Village
  8. Camions Sauvages
  9. Beaux Dimanches
  10. La Paix
  11. Djanfa
  12. Taxi Bamako
  13. Politic Amagni
  14. Gnidjougouya
  15. M'Bife Blues

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 2, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0009K7RL6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,554 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Larry White on November 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It is our understanding that Amadou & Mariam, a married couple, both blind, from Mali have been recording for several decades and are stars in West Africa. We found our way to this cd because it was produced by and with Manu Chao-polyglot, multiculturist, musical collagist, kitchen-sink artist, and creator of one of the more smile-inducing albums of the past 5 years, `Proximo Estacion: Esperanza'. As much as we like that cd and find our way back to it every so often, this one may be better. We have always enjoyed the rhythms, the power and the sheer ebullience of African music, unadulterated, usually, due to our inability to understand the words. Amadou & Mariam, with the madcap inspiration of Mr. Chao, provide those virtues in spades on `Dimanche a Bamako'. The cd is a delightful mish-mash of tempos, beats, styles, cultural influences, languages, and musical sounds. It is a constant kick to be struck by an element-crowd noise, a police siren, mariachi horns (placed there, presumably, by Chao)-and find it the perfect choice. The songs are rife with riffs, catchy, joyful, and danceable. Chao was evidently unable to contain himself enough to remain behind the boards and joins the couple in front of the microphone on several tracks, to the benefit of the record. If you enjoy world music, especially African, we highly recommend this cd. And, if somehow you have not exposed yourself to African music before, this is a sure-fire place to start.
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Format: Audio CD
Modern African pop that'll really bend your ears sideways. What's most striking about this album is its remarkable tonal and textural palatte; producer and co-performer Manu Chao brings a powerful technical proficiency to bear, capturing and isolating individual sound sources and giving each element a distinctive coloration and feel. Rather than use studio multi-tracking to create the illusion of an organic live performance, Chao opts to use technology as an instrument in itself, a tool to amplify and expand the group's stylistic depth and variety... While the results may initially feel a bit rigid or overly artificial, bit by bit the underlaying fluidity of the music will begin to assert itself, and the album will win you over. Amadou and Mariam's earlier albums have all had a peculiar magical appeal, but Chao's inventive, kaleidoscopic production nudges their brand of Malian pop into new directions... This album will doubtless get great press and blow a lot of people's minds: this time you can believe the hype and check it out... It's pretty cool.
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Format: Audio CD
"World music" has been the lazy moniker used in the US for any artist making music outside the dominion of the American-based recording industry. Unfortunately that's why a talented duo like Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia is unlikely to find themselves in the commercial mainstream here despite having a recording career that extends back three decades. They have a fascinating story behind them - both were blind students at Bamako's Institute for Young Blind People in Mali, who shared a passion for their native music. They married, started touring any venue in their part of the world and extending to European stops, all the while incorporating musical cues from the various locales into their compositions.

Their latest disc is an intoxicating blend of West African traditional sounds and a more European-style beat consciousness. The latter is due primarily to their association with Manu Chao, the eclectic French-Latin alternative music star, who helped with production duties. Both Amadou and Mariam are pleasing vocalists who perform the mostly French lyrics with aplomb. Several tracks showcase their melding beautifully - "La Fête Au Village" and "Beaux Dimanches" (with its mournful trumpet) have actual village sounds providing the background to the rhythmic music, and with its slightly dated siren samples and heavy use of organ, "La Réalité" has a reggae flavor that casts a spell. The harmonies, however, often take a backseat to Amadou's dexterous skill as a guitarist, especially as he attacks Dick Dale-style on the introduction to "Coulibaly" and strums sweetly on "Politic Amagni".
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Format: Audio CD
Do you like music that makes you happy?

I don't mean moderately happy, 7.5 on a scale of 10, isn't it a great day happy, kind of sort of happy.

I mean ecstatic, get up and dance happy, throw caution to the winds and kiss a stranger happy, pump up the volume and wake your neighbors happy, see yourself realizing all your dreams happy.

That happiness is commercially available. It's even legal. You can get a preview of it by jumping on the video of "La Realite" (below). You can just trust me that this is a CD you absolutely cannot go on living without and click and have these sounds for your very own in a matter of days. Or, if you are weary of hype, you can resist until I Make the Case.

Okay, here's the case:

Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia are from Mali. They met in the 1970s, married in 1980 and started performing together. Like their fellow musicians from Mali --- I'm thinking of Ali Farka Toure and Boubacar Traore --- they started with their country's version of the blues. Along the way, they went international and borrowed from cultures as diverse as Cuba and France. And they became very popular indeed.

Small fact: They're blind. Both of them. And possessed of the unusual joy that is the special province of some of the unsighted (see Jacques Lusseyran's jaw-dropping World War II memoir, And There Was Light).

In 2003, Amadou and Mariam hooked up with Manu Chao. This is major, for Chao is a world music god everywhere but in America. The reason for that is somewhat predictable: Chao is unabashedly political. Many of his lyrics are about poverty and oppression, his music is based on local folk music, and underneath it is usually a bouncy punk beat.
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