Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blimpy Is Confused - Please Help Him

I'm getting confused by Africa, music, and U2.
If U2 did an album of traditional African songs, they would be a laughing stock, no?
But if African musicians do an album of traditional U2 songs, then that would be as absurd?
Or would it? 
I know there's lots of fans of both things amongst the RR community, so after you play the song below, I would like some answers please!

Mysterious Ways by Angelique Kidjo mp3

The album review that set my head scratching in the first place is here
More songs from the album can be heard/bought here


steenbeck said...

I don't know anything about anything, but the track you posted is better than the U2 track it rode in on, in my opinion. And I took a look at the article, it's sort of hard to decipher--it seems to be trying to make everything into a joke--I'm confused too. But (sorry, maybe I have tourettes about certain subjects, too) Talib Kweli has a track with Les Nubians on it (Love Language). They're from Cameroon, according to the article. You have a connection, no, Ejaydee?

ejaydee said...

Yes, I'm half Cameroonian by way of my mother. I saw Manu Dibango in the train the other week, another famous Cameroonian.

ejaydee said...

I'm not a fan of either version, but I think there's an interesting paradox here which I think is sometimes unfair. The "West" is allowed one credible album with African music influences every 20 years (Graceland-Vampire Weekend), as long as it's all done with in the appropriate measures and avoids "cultural tourism". Yet nobody wonders if Congolese music should have so much Cuban and Rhumba influences, or if Ali Farka Touré is naff because he's listened to a lot of John Lee Hooker.
Now I agree that if all of sudden U2 decide to do an album of traditional songs it would be pretty objectionable, but I don't think adding a bit of soukouss guitar here and there just because it sounds nice is a terrible offence. Just don't be all earnest about it and think you're "really connecting with AfriKaaah".

Blimpy said...

Donds for what ejd said.

CaroleBristol said...

Isn't this a bit of a "Can blue men sing the whites?" kind of argument?

I really don't get wound up by all this cross cultural influence sort of thing.

Authenticity and rootsiness is all well and good, but sharing and influencing and being influenced is even better.

treefrogdemon said...

Ejay, the story I heard about Ali Farka Toure was that when he first came to western notice (he was already a huge star in Mali of course) it was assumed that he was a big John Lee Hooker fan, but when asked he said he'd never heard of him - the influence was the other way round ie JLH had been influenced by African music.

ejaydee said...

TFD, I read the opposite in the liner notes to the reissue of Red and Green a couple of years ago. The (if I remember correctly) future founder of World Circuit was looking in the bargain bin of a record shop in Paris, where he picked up an Ali Farka Toure record. WHen he first heard it, he thought he'd found "the missing link", as in the connection between the blues and West African griot tradition. But once he met the man (Touré), he found out that he'd been listening to some American blues, especially JLH. I'll research it once I've found a way to make my computer act less crazy. My trackpad and clicker are imagining I'm touching them. They wish!

ejaydee said...
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ejaydee said...
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treefrogdemon said...

Hah, ejay, maybe AFT's been messin' with us...my computer went all kaplooey earlier too btw