wed 17/07/2019

CD: Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Etoile de Dakar - Fatteliku | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Etoile de Dakar - Fatteliku

CD: Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Etoile de Dakar - Fatteliku

Powerful and exuberant early live album from the Senegalese legend

Reaching another level with a superb live performance recorded in 1987

Athens, 1987: Youssou N'Dour opens for Peter Gabriel on a world tour. It's a wonder – and to his credit – that the British rock star should dare follow such a powerful performance. Few bands at the time could produce such a seductively joyful sound.

Dakar's super-talent hadn't yet succombed to the lure of international audiences. Although he'd begun to move away from the explosive party music of the lengthy grand bals with which he would entertain Senegalese audiences for three to four hours, he was still wholeheartedly true to his roots: the unique combination of African and Afro-Cuban rhythms known as mbalax, a hard-drving yet lilting concoction driven along by clattering explosions of the sabar, the high-pitched Senegalese drum, that fuels the wild ventilateur dance of his fans.

Many West African singers model their vocal style on the melismatic call of the muezzin, and Youssou N'Dour is no exception but he added a sweetness that transformed the spiritual tone of his singing into something that few other Senegales singers, except Thione Seck could achieve. Rather than classic call-and-response, the urgency of the drums drives the vocals and vice versa, moving the music on in an insistent and irresistible manner.

Studio recordings can produce a polished sound and feature exquisite production, but they miss out on spontaneity and the cliff-hanging risk-taking that characterises a live performance. There was always something about the Super Etoile de Dakar and the band's superb vocalist that came into its own and reached another level in front of an audience. We can be grateful to Real World Records for having dug this one out of the vaults. Although this is a recording made several decades ago, it sounds fresh and edgy, and superior in many ways to the exercises in fusion and more elaborate experiments that have become fashionable today.

Few bands at the time could produce such a seductively joyful sound

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

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