Stop reading. Buy this.
But if you want more of a review... I asked for, and received this for Christmas 2005 and it jumped into being my favorite AFT album.
If you're a fan of acoustic guitars in the right hands, if you're a fan of rhythm that crawls into your soul until you realize you've been hypnotized, rocking back and forth on the floor or couch or front porch for the past hour, you should buy this. Ali was an undeniable master of touch and tone. Basically he's playing a guitar that you might be able to sell on eBay for $20 yet his tone is pure magic. It's a singular voice in the world of guitar. All the top-of-the-line vintage guitars or new necks or more frequent changing of the strings or bigger effects racks in the world aren't going to give you this if it's not inside you. What Ali had in his fingers and soul, you either have or you don't.
Here I think are many of the best examples of Ali's brilliance and emotional power. The melodic beauty of a great njarka fiddle player mixed with the hypnotic, rhythmic drive of the glorious drone-lute (the amazing ancestors of the American banjo) players... here it's all happening on one guitar at the same time. This set, much of Red specifically, is where AFT's perfect synthesis of those things occured and came out in one of my favorite music/song/guitar styles of all time.
During the Red & Green years he truly had the high voice that's often favored in various cultures throughout Africa. There are tunes during his middle-aged (and later) years that have a similar sort of mood as some of Hooker's greats from the Chess years like Groundhog Blues, Worried Life or Down at the Landing but Red & Green has none of that. Not that being compared to John Lee is in any way an insult but "the African John Lee Hooker" always struck me as a journalistic shortcut which made Ali seem derivative. That's false. Ali was all his own. He was one of the greats of the 20th Century. Red & Green may be his pinnacle. He was great when I caught him in concert but he wasn't like this. This is something very special to me.
This is a well-rounded art, not a wanking guitar-slinger. Some of his best songs happen right here. Ali Aoudy, for instance. What a magical singer. If these were separate products I'd have given Green 4 stars but since this is one set it's 5 stars all the way.
The world lost a great gift earlier in 2006. Thank You for everything, Ali Farka Toure. Words will never do you justice.