Like Salif Keita, Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia are from Mali: the origin of the very best, most exquisite, innovative, effortlessly complex and original music from the African continent - if not the whole world - over the past 20 years. It's a mystery why, but all the very best music seems to be from Mali.
Amadou and Mariam are blind. They're also married to each other, and have been composing and performing together since around 1980. This though is their most electrifying, original, joyful, danceable-in-the-street, clever, richly textured and simply best album by far, and the reason is almost certainly the involvement of Manu Chao who not only produced the whole glorious celebration but composed and performed on several of the tracks as well.
Sung mainly in French with that delightful West African dialect - but also with a couple of English language numbers - "Dimanche a Bamako" (Sunday in Bamako - the title track of the album) is a joy from start to finish, full of surprises, different rhythms, interesting arrangements and eclectic choice of instrumentation. It romps along at a fair old pace and, even if you have no idea what they're singing about, you'll instantly love it. Every track is different and yet the whole is even more than the sum of its beautiful and exquisite parts: musical excellence, a delight to be savoured again and again.
If you like African music, especially music from Mali, and you never heard this album then you should buy it right now. If "world music" has never appealed and you're put off by lyrics sung in languages other than English, this could be a breakthrough and a revelation. Give it a listen, and open up a new world of joyous West African delight.