Itâ€™s been quite a while since The Rolling Stones received a kind word in print, as journalists snipe at their age, their ticket prices and their lack of creativity. But their fans donâ€™t care, and the guys go on making millions. One thing to be said in their favour, they always make enterprising choices for their support acts. Back in the 1960s and early 70s, they introduced their audience to B.B.King, Stevie Wonder and Ike and Tina Turner. Now itâ€™s the turn of Tinariwen, whose bluesy groves are tailor-made for people who still like the Stones. Even Andy Gill, music reviewer for The Independent, and David Hepworth, publisher of Word, champion the cause of Tinariwen. The breakthrough starts here.
In a series of five reissues of Algerian Rai music from the late 1980s, all subtitled Maghreb Soul: 1986-1990, the surprise standout is the album by Cheb Mami. Perhaps misled by his duet with Sting, Iâ€™ve had Mami down as a sort of Paul Young to Cheb Khaledâ€™s Otis Redding, but how wrong could I be? He sings with fire and emotion, and this album is among the best reissues of the year, released on Because, the label behind Amadou & Mariamâ€™s best-selling Dimanche a Bamako.
Esma Redzepova is one of several legendary singers of the Balkans who are belatedly being recorded and marketed for the rest of the world. Gypsy Carpet is unlikely to make her a household name, but â€˜Devel Upral Dikhelaâ€™ sounds fine.
photo of LaXula copyright Stephen Dray
LaXula is a Spanish singer based in London whose band recently played at Sadlers Wells, part of the annual La Linea festival of Spanish-speaking music. I missed it, but heard reports of fire eaters and snake charmers in a riveting set that put the headliners to shame. To my ears, LaXula is among the outstanding artists based in the UK right now, and I look forward to welcoming her to the foyer stage at the Barbican on the afternoon of Sunday May 27th, when I will also be talking with Camille, Kâ€™Naan and Gilles Peterson. Itâ€™s all free, folks, so come along and say
The Sunday before that, May 20th, Mayra Andrade will make her UK debut at the Purcell Rooms as part of the London African Music festival on the South Bank. Born in Havana, Cuba, to parents from Cape Verde, Mayra moved around quite a bit as they were posted to various other cities, before settling in Paris where she recorded her first album Navega. The album has become one of my favourites of the moment, and Iâ€™ve just learned it will be released in the UK on Sterns in September.
CG, Andy Palacio and Katharina Lobeck, at WOMEX 2002 [photo by Sean Barlow of Afropop]
Itâ€™s been great to see what a positive reception Andy Palacioâ€™s album Watina has had from reviewers across the board in the UK. Hopefully the impact will be sustained when he tours in June. As they say on the t-shirts back home, You Better Belize It.
An excellent show this week, I thought. Quite an uptempo, perky set of songs. And, despite my reservations about hearing the whole album in one go, I even liked the Tinariwen track.
The best of the bunch, for me, was the Laxula track, 'La Luna'. Catchy song and terrific driving guitar, marred only slightly by the flute thing (I'm not a flute person). There was a suggestion that, although the album isn't yet available, tracks can be downloaded. I found four Laxula travcks on beatpick.com, but they don't include 'La Luna'.
it really provides me the information about the world music.
I really like it very much.
2. Louis Massano, Jersey City, New Jersey USA
Great show on May 6, 2007 Sunday ending at 8 pm here in New Jersey via XM Radio!
Not a single track that wasn't perfectly performed and interesting!
3. A Jonty Butler, Brighton, UK
Listening to Mayra Andrade half asleep last night was mesmerising - confirmed today by "listen again". I've looked on the net but where oh where can I buy a copy of Navega?? If the track you played was anything to go by I will be in Nirvana!! Hope to hear from you. JONTY