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Soro

Soro

1 Jan 1987
4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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4:45
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1987
  • Release Date: 24 Mar. 1997
  • Label: Universal-Island Records Ltd.
  • Copyright: (C) 1987 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 38:03
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001KV6OGC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,425 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Jan. 2006
Format: Audio CD
Soro turned into a great hit for Salif Keita in the late 1980s and was the album that established him on the international scene. Keita¹s music is a successful blend of the traditional griot style with influences from Latin America and other West African pop styles. The female backup singers play a prominent role in the arrangements, at least equal to Keita's own searing vocals.
The music is a happy mix of percussion, bass, guitar, congas, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and keyboards. Soro (Afriki) is a long piece in three parts with different percussive tempos and instrumental breaks. Souareba is a particularly moving song with a spiritual undertone, orchestral arrangement and soaring vocals.
Sina (Soumbouya) is a more traditional piece with a bubbling rhythm, flashes of trumpet and the intricate vocal interplay. With its slower pace and gently lilting rhythm, Cono is a soulful ballad with a lovely melody, whilst the mournful Sanni Kegniba is more traditional with intense soaring vocals.
Soro from 1987 is considered his masterpiece but I like Keita¹s albums Amen and The Mansah Of Mali even more for their greater variety. This however remains a classic of African crossover music.
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Format: Audio CD
Salif Keita has been accused of abandoning his African style to adopt the electronic backing so prominent on this (and other albums of the same time). At first, I agreed, but after listening to this many times, and seeing Salif perform these tracks live, I have to say the reason this works so well is that, unlike many other world music offerings, this backing is all African. You will not find programmed accompaniement like this anywhere else I know of. In addition, there is a real horn section, fantastic guitars, Salif's amazing voice, and the best female backing group since Bob Marley's Wailers. You might not 'get it' the first time, but keep coming back, it's great stuff. It will have you dancing, dreaming and realising (when you read the words) that Salif is 100% African genius.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, that is not entirely true - there is lots of excellent African music. But this record is a real standout: at 37 minutes it might seem a little short but every minute counts. Soro (Afriki) is one of the most magnificent pieces of music you are ever likely to hear: a three-part wonder construction that virtually creates a style to itself with its perceptive use of modern instruments and driving horns. Cono is sublime and Sina grabs you right from the outset. Keita's voice is true heaven, going from intense shout to Islamic wailing; and always tastefully. For heaven's sake, buy this album: it is worth every scant little penny, he has never matched it since.
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Format: Audio CD
This landmark album, recorded in Paris and released worldwide in 1987, took Salif Keita from local popularity in Mali, Senegal and the "ethnic West African Music scene" in France, to world recognition. It's therefore fair to say that "Soro" was the first time that music from West Africa gained a true international audience.

"Soro" is rooted in "griot" blended with playing from American-influenced, Paris-based jazz musicians. Influences from Latin America may also be detected. This was the first time Keita used a small chorus of female backing singers to anchor the melody and act as a counterpoint to his own soaring vocals, later to become one of the trademarks of his sound as it developed into maturity. Complex percussion lines and beautiful, crisp bass playing overlaid with superlative brass create a melodic, soulful sound.

Keita's voice is in its prime, with the exuberant confidence of youth married to the disciplined and controlled delivery of an experienced professional artist. Production values are first class, and even after 20 years the sound is beautiful, rich and deep, as fresh as the day it was recorded.

The accompanying booklet (CD only, not the MP3 download) offers all the song lyrics translated into English - useful, as Salif does not sing in English but mainly in West African languages and occasionally in French.
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Format: Audio CD
It's several years since the last reviews of this essential album and it is time, in the light of what seems to be a revival in popularity of West African music, to re-assess it. And it still stands up!! Although I had listened to quite a lot of world music when this came out in 1987, this was the album that really opened the music up to western audiences with its great mix of western production values (recorded in France), its toe-tapping beat throughout, the backing vocals (unmatched for many years after) and the awesome voice of Salif Keita. I don't altogether disagree that it might seem a bit dated now, nearly a quarter of a century later, because Keita has gone on to make a number of masterpieces since (look for M'bemba and Mouffou) and there have been some extraordinary albums from the likes of Nahawa Doumbia, Rokia Traore, Fatoumata Diawara, Vieux Farka Toure and so on.

But this electrifying album started all that, and the concert tour that accompanied it was mesmerising, one of the best gigs I have seen in nearly 50 years of concert-going, where all the stops were pulled out with his voice, the choir and the band (virtually unchanged from the studio musicians that made the album).

If you need to be reminded of its greatness, listen to the first two tracks while trying to transport yourself back to the late 80s and ask yourself, honestly, if anything you had heard before in world music had prepared you for the fantastic guitars, the horns, the extraordinary female chorus, the thumping rhythm section, and that searing, soaring voice, still a wonder to hear in modern music of any genre.

This is the album that should kickstart your world music collection!
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