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2009 - week 4 from 31 January - World hits, Part 7

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:43 pm
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Orchestra Baobab - Utru Horas - Pirates Choice - The Legendary 1982 Session - Senegal - World Circuit - WCD 014

2 - Baaba Maal - Salminanam - Djam Leelii - Senegal - Palm Pictures - YOFFCD0001

3 - Jali Musa Jawara - Haidara - Routes: 20 Years of Essential Folk Roots & World Music - Guinea Conakry - Nascente - NSCDd2000

4 Franco - Liberté - FrancoPhonic - DR Congo - Sterns - STCD3041-2


If you were to go looking for the seeds of what became the world music movement, here’s the garden where you need to dig. These were the artists and songs that helped to turn long-time devotees of western music into newly-converted adherents of music from elsewhere and in particular, West and Central Africa. There had been plenty of people already on the fringes, some clear that there was a whole lot more music out there than most people realised, but even they came on board with more conviction when they heard these songs.

Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab’s album arrived in Europe via a dubious route, released by somebody who did not own the rights to do so. I first ran across the album in Amsterdam but a few months later it appeared on the shelves at Sterns in London. When Andy Kershaw was given a slot on Radio One and announced that he would be playing this (still unnamed) world music, I offered to escort him to Sterns where I pointed to Orchestra Baobab’s album as an absolute must. I had been playing the lilting ‘Coumbia’ on Capital Radio, but Andy took to the more languorous ‘Utru Horas’. Once I heard it on his radio show, I realised he was right, and moved across to reinforce his preference. Somewhere along the line, World Circuit’s A&R man Nick Gold joined the throng of entranced listeners and managed to establish contact with the rightful owner to put it out properly. In the sleeve note, I innocently observed that all the songs had been recorded in one take, but Nick mocked such ignorance by including two versions of both ‘Coumbia’ and ‘Utru Horas’, relegating the ‘originals’ (ie, the versions we already knew) to the end of the CD. When he subsequently reissued the album, Nick dropped those originals altogether, but I still prefer them.

Mansour Seck (left) and Baaba Maal [photo:]

Lucy Duran and Ian Anderson were among those already in the know when all this was going on, Lucy having lived in West Africa for a couple of years before returning to the UK where she joined the staff at the National Sound Archive as African music curator, and Ian as editor of a folk music magazine who was already stretching definitions of folk music beyond the expectations and preferences of many of his readers. Together they arranged for the first European release of material recorded for cassettes by the Senegalese duo, Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck, which entailed remixing some tracks. Subsequently signed by Island Records (and later Palm Pictures), as a solo artist (without Mansour Seck), Baaba Maal made many records with modern western instruments but never improved on that first album. He has became much better known outside his own country than back home, where he was a regarded as a marginal, minority figure.

Djeli Moussa Diawara

Under the French spelling of his name, the Guinean kora player Djeli Moussa Diawara recorded his debut album in 1982 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he had been playing in restaurants. Released on Tangent, a label run by an American in Paris, the album inspired me to dip my toe into this new music by releasing it in the UK on my Oval label, with Anglicised spelling of his name as suggested by Lucy Duran – Jali Musa Jawara. Billy Bragg’s enthusiasm led to his Go Discs label boss Andy McDonald licensing the album for release under the title Direct from West Africa, while World Circuit’s boss Anne Hunt brought Jali Musa to play on two double bills in London with the Malian guitarist (and Andy Kershaw favourite), Ali Farka Toure. Amusingly (to all except those who had to deal with the problem), neither Jali Musa nor Ali had heard of each other, and each assumed he should be top of the bill. Fortunately, as there were two concerts, the bills could be reversed. Both artists recorded new albums for World Circuit while they were in the UK, but only Ali sold enough records to justify making more albums. Meanwhile the original Jali Musa album was issued yet again, this time on Joe Boyd’s Hannibal label, but that license lapsed long ago, and at the moment the album is scandalously unavailable. ‘Haidara’ was included in Ian Anderson’s excellent compilation for Nascente, Routes: 20 years of Essential Folk, Root and World Music.


Finally, Franco, the Congolese singer, song writer and band-leader who had been recording for many years before this sudden explosion in West Africa. Unlike most of the West African singers, Franco carried is music far beyond the borders of his own country, and is still revered in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Ivory Coast.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:04 pm
by Alan

listen again via


PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:23 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Abdoulaye Saine,
Town: Oxford, Ohio, USA

Many thanks for your show of January 31. (I am a longtime listener). It was a fitting culmination to a night/morning I spent listening to music from the Senegambia region- Laba Sosseh, Africando, Bembeya Jazz Nationale, Youssou N'Dour and later the Buena Vista Social Club album(Cuba) . Grew up in Gambia in early '50s and loved the beats of the day. The late Franco's piece was very touching. It was the first by Orchestra Baobab of Senegal that, to me, stole the show. Thanks for a great show


2. magnus wolfe murray, Monção, Portugal

Absolutely brillant to hear this stuff. Great choices. Moving, melancholic, inspiring. Keep going!


3. Abdoul, Southampton

Hi Charlie. As a Senegalese I am really elated to hear you play music from my country. I cannot express in words what i feel.
keep up the good work you are making all the african community happy. cheers!

4. Paul Lauff, Frankfurt am Main

Wish I had discovered your programme earlier, some of my treasured possessions are my "New African Worldbeat" CDs


5. John Binns

This was an excellent - West African music - it was new to me and really good. thank you.


6. Katie Gardner, Lauzun, France

Extraordinary! What a brilliant way to discover new music! I only wish this programme was on for longer and more often. Am completely addicted now to, particularly, the first track and intend to buy the album to add to my collection. Terrific programme, thank you.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:54 pm
by will vine
These are very fondly remembered tracks from the time of the great discovery, when every african lp that turned up at Sterns and every cassette that turned up at Camden market seemed to give up some form of treasure. We loved it all and it has stayed with us.

I don't really remember ever questioning, "Is this good?" I never had to ask. Everything Charlie found from various sources seemed to be music with heart. It just hit me like a brick. It was just fantastic to find it. I never knew how much more of it would come to light. Was it a precious finite source? What ever were the chances that one day such music would be available on cd....(let alone in high street stores and on downloads) ? I grabbed as much as I could at the time. It led me on to some great stuff but the early eighties acquisitions remain very special.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:54 am
by Charlie
6. BJ Fitzgibbon, Wellington, New Zealand

Kia Ora / Howdy!

Thanks for playing Jali Musa Jawara last week on your wonderful show. Back in 2001 I found his “Soubindoorâ€

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:27 am
by RussellC
Only four tracks but all exquisite. Listened to everyday so far.
Haidara is mesmeric - magical. The mixture of the chorus and the kora - just sublime.
I seem to have mislaid my Oval LP so was pleased when Folk Roots issued Haidara on their compilation.
I shall have it played at my funeral (not imminent).