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Nothing's in Vain.. Import


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Biography

After countless forays into the western world, Youssou N'Dour chose Dakar as a base from which to lead his geopolitical campaign in music. His strategy is pan-African: "What all of us Africans share is much more important than what we don't share," says this elegant, fifty-year old youngster, who grew up in the Medina in Senegal's capital city, Dakar. Bringing unity to ... Read more in Amazon's Youssou N'Dour Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Nothing's in Vain.. + Rokku Mi Rokka: Give and Take/Special Edition + Egypt
Price For All Three: £29.02

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Product details

  • Audio CD (21 Oct. 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00006OAPW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,073 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

BBC Review

Senegalese singer/songwriter/superstar Youssou N'Dourhas a punishing recording schedule. Every year he releases two albums: one for the Dakar nightclubs and thriving West African street-market cassette trade, and one for Western world music fans.

Paradoxically, it's the 'local' set that's always the most westernised: his previous album, Ba Tay, was an electrified guitar/keyboard/percussion number. It had no sleevenotes, a token shot of mbalax (modernised traditional Wolof) drumming, and a single dancefloor hit.

The strange feature about Nothing In Vain is that it's equally 'non-traditional', but in a different way. For the first time in a full session N'Dour has used traditional Senegalese instruments that wouldn't normally be found in a 'standard' mbalax line-up. The harp-like kora, the xalam (lute), and the riti (a sort of violin) all have their place in other Senegalese traditions, but rarely in company with mbalax tama and sabar drumming.

The results, almost entirely acoustic throughout, are generally enchanting. The first four songs showcase the 'new' instruments. All are in slowish tempo, including radically chilled re-arrangements of "Moor Ndadje" and "Genne", the two dance-orientated songs off Ba Tay. It's only with the fifth tune, "La Femme Est L'Avenir De L'Amour", that Youssou coaxes us back into more familiar Afro-Parisian territory. He seals the link with the next composition, "Mbeggeel Noonu La", a reflective revisiting of the spirit of his biggest ever hit, 1985's "Immigres".

There are a couple of turkeys, "So Many Men" and "Africa Dream Again" (is it just personal prejudice, or does Youssou's voice sound unconvincing in English?). But the best two tracks are definitely saved till last. In "Doule" and "Yaru", both slow-burning dancefloor 'builders', the arrangements really hit their stride, the acoustic instrumentation making sense dynamically as well as aesthetically and making a neat fit with the tama drums.

A lot of extravagant claims are made for Youssou. Some, such as 'the greatest Senegalese singer of all time' are highly questionable: many Senegalese would rate Thione Seck or Baaba Maal at least as equal to (or better than) N'Dour. But his one undoubted quality of genius is his ability, like Baaba Maal, to see the bigger picture in West African music. And it's that talent that will preserve his name long after many more parochial African acts have disappeared.

A great introduction if you're new to Youssou N'Dour: a pleasant surprise if you're not. --John Armstrong

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Albert Bond on 31 Oct. 2002
Format: Audio CD
During 20 years in the music industry Youssou N'Dour has sung in English, French and Wolof, The language of his grigot(praise-singing) ancestors. Already well established on the West African music scene it was't until 1994 that N'Dour hit international acclaim with his award winning album "The Guide" featuring a blistering duet with Nina Cherry in "Seven Seconds". Since his last album Jololi in 2000 which had a heavy western influnce with songs recorded alongside artists such as Wycleff and sting, N'Dour has returned to his roots to find inspiration for Nothing's in Vain his most traditional and prehaps his best album--yet. This beautiful collection of songs are among N'Dour's finest and have a very uplifting feel to them. Accompanied by the 8 piece backing band Super Etoile, traditional players on the Kora (harp lute) balafon (xylophone) and xalam (lute), and not forgetting N'Dour's Spine-tingling 7 octave voice, the ingredients are all there. All this along with chattering guitars and talking drums make this is a must have album for all world music and in fact all music lovers. YOUSSOU N'DOUR TRULY IS A WORLD CLASS ARTIST.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Nov. 2002
Format: Audio CD
I have been a fan of Youssou N'Dour's music for about 10 years now and am disappointed to see that he feels the need to produce music for the Western public differently from what he produces for the Senegalese market.
'Nothing is in vain' is a beautiful album, like anything that has ever come from Youssou N'Dour, yet most of the rythms are addapted to the western ear and they lack the amazing force of his original mbalax stuff.
Maybe I am oldfashioned, but I want him to get back to what he did on his previous albums, even Joko is less western for my taste. But as he said in his song Birima on the Joko (the way it was translated to me by a Senegalese friend): 'Whereever you will go or what ever you will do, I will follow'. Youssou N'Dour is still the King of African music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marion Brandis on 30 Oct. 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have only heard about this album recently and have really enjoyed the range and breadth of this artist's voice and music. Looking forward to more!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Phil M. on 10 Nov. 2002
Format: Audio CD
For those thinking that N'dour had lost his roots, or that they'd heard enough World Music, Youssou's latest is an inspiration. Using, predominantly, traditional influences and instruments, Youssou has created a treasure.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Nadim Bakhshov VINE VOICE on 18 Mar. 2004
Format: Audio CD
Youssou takes a side-step in what some might see as a clear linear superstar trajectory to breathe and contemplate some strange musical flavour that will not appeal to the purist. It mixes styles and instrumentations but works at a gentler level.
Some of the pieces are the warmest he has ever written.
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