Ali Farka Touré

Ali Farka Touré

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Ali Farka Touré Review

by Brian Whitener

Internationally feted at the age of 50, Ali Farka Touré's life was not always so easy. Up till the release of this, his third album, he was virtually unknown in West Africa and a non-entity in the world music community. Before this album bought him fame, if not fortune, Touré's life resembled Amos Tutuola's in Palm Wine Drunkard, a mixture of hard times and legend. What made Touré stand out from the crowd was his mixture of these two elements, a blues-based singing style close to John Lee Hooker and a particularly African choice of subject matter, often rooted in West African myth and folktale. On this release, Touré performs most often unaccompanied relying entirely on the magnetism of his beautiful voice and the counterpoint of his rhythmic guitar. Occasionally, Touré is accompanied by traditional instruments such as calabash or bongos, which he also plays, but the real strength of this album lies in his magnificent voice. While he sings in several different languages, including English, the power and genius of Touré's compositions easily carry through the language barrier. This album inaugurated a new marriage of American blues and African musical traditions of which Touré is the best practitioner.

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