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Oumou

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 24, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

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This six-foot-tall goddess is indisputably one of modern Africa's greatest singers. Her magnificent, throaty alto and exotic yet accessible style have already won her an impressive international following. Oumou's lyrics are nearly as compelling as her voice and person; her open affirmation of female sensuality and diatribes against polygamy have irritated conservative elders but delighted her contemporaries. She is an exponent of the blues-like Wassoulou tradition, which takes its name from a province in Southern Mali. The region's music is based upon Asian-sounding five-tone scales and is usually accompanied by the resonant kamelengoni (a six-stringed hunters' harp) and searing, earthy fiddles, while jaunty polyrhythms are marked by wood drums, metal scrapers, and/or shakers. This double album constitutes an ideal introduction. It contains a twelve-track "greatest hits" package (picked from her first three albums, Moussoulou, Ko Sira, and Worotan) plus eight new tunes that have never before been available on CD. --Christina Roden
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0001ADAUG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,823 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Oumou Sangare has been a household name in Mali for over a decade now, and is almost unquestionably the most popular singer in that West African country these days. This double CD provides a pretty thorough sample of her career, from her first recordings to her latest (and previously unreleased) efforts.
If you own "Ko Sira," "Moussoulou" and "Worotan" there are still half a dozen or so tracks here that you probably don't already have on CD. Most of them are from her 2001 release "Laban," which while never released in the West is the best-selling recording in Malian history. There's also a DJ remix of her haunting "Djorolen." The original is one of my favorite Oumou songs, and the new version is haunting but in a surprising way--a significant departure from the source material.
If you DON'T own any of the three albums listed above, you owe it to yourself to pick up this collection and check out what Oumou has to offer. There's a reason she's such a superstar at home. Talent is a big part of it, as is good business sense and keen ambition. But listening to "OUMOU" will tell pretty much the whole story.
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Format: Audio CD
Whether or not you need this 2-disc set all depends on the status of your Oumou Sangare collection. It must have been quite a shock and disappointment for people who wanted, but did not yet have all 3 of her previous albums, to see them all go out-of-print. If you do not own any or all of Woroton, Moussoulou, or Ko Sira, you need to buy this. Period. If you already own all 3, this is not an essential purchase for you. That could be considered the end of my review, for all intents and purposes.

I have all 3 and when I saw the release of this disc, I have to admit I was disappointed. In a perfect world, the 3 previous albums would have stayed in print, and this would have been a 2 or 3-disc set made up of live material as well as the new (to those of us not in Africa) studio tracks included here that are from the Africa-only cassette release, Laban. This would have been my first choice because that way we all would have gotten much more new material. Let's face it, anyone who has heard Oumou in concert knows that she is phenomenal. I can't imagine anyone who has been to her concerts not thinking it was one of the best concerts they have ever been to. She is truly a gift to us all. Chicago '99 is the performance that proves this to me.

Even though I was disappointed to see that the vast majority of this set is previously-released material I already owned, I still had to buy it. I had heard OF the Laban cassette in the past couple years but never heard it, and it kinda drove me nuts knowing there was new Oumou out there that I couldn't get my hands on. Now that I have heard the new stuff, it turns out that (at least in my opinion) none of the new tracks are at the level of the older stuff. It's not that I don't like the songs, though.
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By J.S. on November 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
To understand where Africa has been and where it's headed, it would be necessary to read volumes of history, to travel extensively, to watch the off-brand news services religiously, and to truly grasp a Van der Grinten projection map. A shorter way would be to listen to Oumou Sangare - songs detailing the old ways, not always kindly, and songs declaring the rights of the new times. She's been criticized by the establishment and lauded by her fellow countrymen. However, all of this is secondary to the fact that she can sing like nobody's business. Incredible arrangements, excellent band, startling vocal control and arresting melodies. This is what the American "divas" only dream they could pull off.
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Format: Audio CD
One of my favorite things about this album are the liner notes, which were written by Oumou Sangare herself. They really help me to appreciate the music better than I was able to before. There is a lovely humor and warm intelligence to her notes, and they are also quite informative about the various musical traditions in Mali and how they figure in the various songs. Also, she talks about the political commentary provided in the songs (in many of the traditional songs she added verses, for example), and how she sometimes sings traditional songs in an ironic way: all of that sort of thing is lost on a non-Malian listener unless it is explained.

This album compiles songs from her three previous albums, and adds eight new tracks. Some of my favorite things were new ('new' in the sense of 'not previously available on CD'). Although there is a five-song overlap between this and "Worotan" (the other Oumou Sangare album that I have), I don't mind too much. I do agree with the other reviewer who noted that this album is probably not essential for someone who already has all three of the previous albums; but if you've got only one, and you like it, I would get this by all means.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
At her best, this Malian vocalist is terrific, and many of the tracks on this double CD set catch her at her best, especially the acoustic tracks. Unfortunately, while some of the more amped-up Afro-beat tracks are also quite good, others are excruciatingly languid and feel like filler. Of course what's filler to me may be other listeners' favorites, as is often the case with "greatest hits" compilations of this kind.
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