Youssou N’Dour et Le Super Etoile de Dakar ‘Fatteliku’ (Real World) 4/5

youssou-ndourSenegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour was at the forefront of the African contingent of world roots stars who emerged during the 1980s and this live recording from Athens in 1987 captures him near his peak with terrific accompaniment in the form of Le Super Etoile de Dakar, with whom he first made his name in his native land. The band exude mbalax, the indigenous rhythms of modern-day Senegal with brassy horns, clinking rhythm guitars and the famous talking drum amid an array of percussion. The proceedings open with a rendition of an early classic by the leader, ‘Immigrés’, which has added significance with the most recent migration movement to Europe and this features a stunning percussive breakdown part-way through with funky guitar riffs. An uptempo working of ‘Ndobine’ includes full-on percussion with mbalax rhythms admirably illustrated. One lovely surprise is a jazzy mid-tempo number in ‘Sama Dom (My daughter)’ which features excellent bass line and saxophone, with a lilting reggae beat underneath it all. Peter Gabriel emerges for a ten and a half-minute rendition of ‘In your eyes’ and there is evidently a mutual respect for each singer’s culture. In fact Gabriel regularly visited Dakar in the early 1980s and N’Dour in turn was invited to England to record his ‘So’ album at the Real World studio in Bath. This journey back in time serves as an excellent souvenir of a period in music history when collaborations between musicians from contrasting continents were not just possible, but openly encouraged. Fine quality of sound throughout.

Tim Stenhouse