Lobi Traoré ‘Bamako Nights: live at bar Bozo 1995’ CD/LP/Digital (Glitterbeat) 4/5

Lobi TraoréThis live recording from 1995 serves as a fitting tribute to a singer who did not receive the same amount of attention as others from his native Mali. Lobi Traoré tragically died aged only forty-nine, yet already had five studio albums under his belt. It is this unfortunate pretext which affords the listener the opportunity to hear an African live in a local club performance and more recordings of this quality are required. In fact Traoré was experimenting with a more electric sound which contrasted with his largely acoustic studio recordings and in this respect at least he finds himself in similar company to Rokia Traoré (no immediate relative as far as this writer is aware of). A hypnotic groove is created on ‘Banani’ which has a slight reggae lilt in the use of percussion while the drumbeat on ‘Dununya’ hints at a rockier edge and indeed one of Traoré’s idol was AC/DC which would have roots music purists foaming at the mouth. In a gentler vein, the atmospheric ‘Ne kele kanuba’ features a melodic electric guitar solo in the intro and the percussion is slightly behind the beat. Audience participation on the Malian blues ‘Ni tugula mogo ni ko’ ensures a party ambience. With inner sleeve notes penned by US African musicologist Banning Eyre, sumptuous digipak packaging and terrific black and white photos of the live session by Olivier Gresset, this is a fitting testimony to a singer who will be missed by those who love their West African blues. Ideally the inclusion of song titles in English would have aided the listener. Tim Stenhouse