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2007 - week 52, from 29 December – Records of the Year

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:06 am
by Alan
posted on behalf of CG

Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Mayra Andrade - Poc Li Dente É Tcheu - Navega - Cape Verde/France - Sterns - STCD1105

2 - Andy Palacio - Weyu Larigu Weyu (Day by Day) - Watina - Belize - Stonetree - CMB-CD 3

3 - Youssou N'Dour - Dabbax - Rokku Mi Rokka - Senegal - Nonesuch - PRO 400015

4 - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Segu Tonjon - Segu Blue - Mali - Out There - OH 007

5 - 17 Hippies - Son Mystere - Heimlich - Germany - Hipster - HIP 012 LTD

6 - Manu Chao - Me Llaman Calle - La Radiolina - France/Spain - Because - promo


There was no conscious plan when drawing up this shortlist of the best six albums of the year, but it turns out that there are two debut albums (by Mayra Andrade and Bassekou Kouyate), two by artists who’ve been recording for about ten years (Andy Palacio and 17 Hippies) and two by veterans who made their first records twenty or even thirty years ago (Manu Chao and Youssou N’Dour, respectively).

Strictly speaking, Mayra Andrade’s album belongs to 2006, when Navega was released in France by Sony BMG. I played the title track only once back then, and set the album aside. Returning to it during 2007, I overcame the first impression that it was a bit ‘samey’ and began to appreciate the quality of the songs, musicianship and above all, the confident young singer, only 21 when she recorded it. The trigger for my renewed attention was the inclusion of Mayra among the artists featured in the London African Music Festival in May. Having played one song ahead of the Festival, I came back to it more often after being smitten by her London debut at the Purcell Room. Perhaps the most beguiling performer since Mariza, Mayra has a comparable stage presence while being much less theatrical. Subtle charm is her weapon of choice. Certain that Sony BMG would never release such an album in the UK, I still proposed it as an album-of-the-month to the editor of the Observer Music Monthly, Caspar Llewellin Smith, who is admirably and very unusually unconcerned about whether all the records reviewed in his publication are officially released in the UK. Sometimes, such a review can actually inspire a UK release. In this case, by happy coincidence, the Sterns label had independently already decided to put it out in the UK. The secret began to be shared, and Mayra was nominated among Best Newcomers in the Radio 3 Awards for World Music.

Mayra Andrade

Bassekou Kouyate, the ngoni player from Mali, is also among the Best Newcomers, as leader of his band Ngoni Ba. Theoretically, he could wind up with three awards, having already won the fRoots album of the year with Segu Blue, and being among the nominations for Best African Artist. But the jury has generally shied away from multiple winners, preferring to share the spoils as widely as possible, so he may have to settle for just two or even only one. In any case, Bassekou has been the dominant figure for me this year, a giant who has until now been standing in the shadows, featuring as a session musician on albums by Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure, but unknown and unnoticed by all but the most discerning. Fortunately, Lucy Duran ranks high among the connoisseurs of Malian music, and she undertook to produce this album by Bassekou’s unique combo of four ngonis, mostly staffed by his relatives. Brother Andra plays the bass ngoni, and Bassekou’s wife Ami Sacko is lead singer on several tracks. The group is formidable live, and after a summer of playing Festivals, TV shows, little clubs and big theatres all across Europe, including the Siam Tent at WOMAD and Later with Jools on BBC2 in the UK, Segu Blue has sold over 10,000 copies for the tiny German label, Out Here. In these tough times, that’s an impressive start.

Bassekou Kouyate

What are the odds on two of the best albums of the year being produced by people with the same unusual surname of Duran? Until about five years ago, Lucy and Ivan Duran were unaware of each other’s existence, but when they met at the WOMEX trade fair, Lucy immediately claimed a new relative, saying that Ivan looked exactly like her Spanish cousins. On investigation, they confirmed that they were branches of the same family tree. Ivan (pronounced the Spanish way, to rhyme with divan) lives in Belize, where his mother runs the country’s leading postcard company. When the young guitarist, who had studied music at University in Havana, produced his first album, he was able to use his mother’s distribution company to place it in tourist shops throughout the country. Ivan wasn’t the first to discover how hard it is to sell records without airplay or a live presence, but instead of giving up, he switched roles to become a producer of other artists, choosing to work with musicians from the Garifuna people who live in coastal towns and settlements in Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. Among the first albums was Keymoun by Andy Palacio, released in 1995, so there’s a neat symmetry in the success of Ivan’s latest production, Watina, which is with Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective. [This isn’t the place to go into the story of the Garifuna, which is vividly described in an interview with Andy Palacio on the Afropop website: ] Since Watina arrived in March, it has been the soundtrack of 2007; the title track has become so familiar, it feels like it must have been a hit, but I’ve chosen a song I haven’t played before, Weyu Larigu Weyu (Day by Day).

Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective Photo: Richard Termine

Heimlich by the 17 Hippies is about to be released in the UK in January 2008, having been available for six months in Germany, where the group is based, and in France, where they are a major attraction, headlining festivals and receiving mainstream radio play. Sung by Kiki Sauer, ‘Son Mystère’ is surely a standard in the making.

17 Hippies Photo: Iko Freese

Both of the best known Senegalese artists released new albums in 2007, but while Made in Dakar by Orchestra Baobab was widely acclaimed, Rokku Mi Rokka by Youssou N’Dour received mixed reviews. Where Baobab revisited their past, Youssou bravely stepped into styles he had never tried before, and made the more interesting record. Among several very good tracks, I still find myself returning the same song I’ve played several times before, ‘Dabbax’.

Youssou N’Dour

Manu Chao’s new album La Radiolina feels like two different records intertwined: some songs extend the punky energy of his former band Mano Negra, while others are more reflective, in the style of his debut album Clandestino. I keep meaning to print my own customized version, whittling it down to include only the latter songs. Track one would be ‘Me Llamen Calle.’

Manu Chao



Full details will also be posted on the home page under the 'World of Music' lists with weblinks and sleeve images in a few days

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 12:50 am
by Dayna
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

The more I hear of this, the more I like it.

And I have said before I like 17 Hippies. I do like them.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:30 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Peter Belcher

Charlie Gillett presents a truly excellent program of world music although the absence of UK artists in the shows give the impression from a UK perspective that it is a 'rest of the world' music show.


CG reply

Thanks Peter

On the one hand, UK artists do get a lot of exposure on many radio shows, and so there is a tilt to the rest of the world, yes.

But on the other hand, I just did a search on 'country' in the search engine on the home page where all the playlists are logged, and thirteen UK artists have been played in 2007, which doesn’t seem too bad - one every month on average



2. Bab Kamath, Auckland, New Zealand


You should be knighted with the World Order of Music for your efforts to bringing brilliant music to people like us, thank you ever so much all the songs in your selection have made my day (year that is) Thank you CG, Thank you