20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Firin' in Fouta (Audio CD)
This album is what really made Baaba Maal's name in the UK. It was not his first, but the one that got him noticed by those of us who enjoy african music but don't know too much about it.
Island records obviously invested a lot in this success, judging by the huge numbers of additional musicians involved and the very high production values. It was produced by Simon Emmerson (of Afro Celt fame) and it could be argued that Baaba Maal has compromised his music to make it more acceptable to western tastes. I prefer to see it as making full use of all the technology and instruments available. There are some celtic influences, a smigeon of hip hip (the French variety), and some jazzy touches.
In my opinion, there are no duff tracks on this album, and three which can stand up against anyone else's best - Sidiki, Sama Duniya and Gorel. While I accept that the griot-influenced vocals might grate on some people initially, I reckon the music would grow on anyone.
The band contains one of the most ubiquitous of African musicians - Massamba Diop on talking drums, who seems to crop up as a guest on every other african CD, especially if Simon Emmerson is producing.
You may have heard Baaba Maal described as a genius, and may be aware that the Melvyn Bragg dedicated an entire Southbank Show to him several years ago, and may be wondering if all the hype is justified. If so, of all his albums this is the one to listen to see what all the fuss is about. (and if you ever get the chance, go and see him play live. It really is spectacular.)