Lobi Traore: Bamako Nights: Live At Bar Bozo 1995 – album review

Lobi Traore – Bamako Nights: Live At Bar Bozo 1995 (Glitterbeat Records)


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Glitterbeat release a new live album from the Malian soul/blues guitarist, the late Lobi Traore. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott- Bates reviews.

Once described as having ‘a voice somewhere between rap and blues’, Lobi Traore was born in 1961 in Bakaridianna, close to the Roger Niger in Mali. He died in 2010 with nine albums under his belt, but with a huge talent still waiting to be discovered by the rest of the World.

His second album, Bamako, produced by the internationally acclaimed Ali Farka Toure, was described as one of the best albums of 1994 by French newspaper Liberation. There can be little argument with the accolade for Traore possesses not only a memorable voice but also the ability to play the guitar like no-one else.

Bar Bozo was for the working classes. Downtown, dark and dank it enticed a non elitist audience to dance, drink and enjoy live music into the early hours. In 1995 Lobi was still beginning his career and became a regular act with his songs of social life, philosophy and his people. He filled the bar week in and week out.

Album opener Ni Tugula Mogo Mi Ko is quite literally one man and his guitar. A slow almost calming tune  in which Traore’s extraordinary guitar playing is on full show, prompting  the audience to clap, shout and whistle in approval. With a voice that really does reach for your soul and a tune that you cannot help but feel, therein lies the appeal of this album. In a language completely unfamiliar, the music on show here is gripping and thoroughly entertaining.

Banani has touches of blues infused with reggae and even a live dub effect, and Sigui Nyongon Son Fo kicks the cobwebs away with the rest of the band equally as skilled.

It was rumoured that Traore was a huge fan of Angus Young but to attempt to compare his very unique style to anyone is unfair.

Shortly after this album was recorded Bar Bozo was closed down. At only seven tracks, this is quite a record. A talent that deserted us all too soon and a reminder that he probably still had his finest hour to come.

More on Lobi Traore on the Glitterbeat website here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.

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