The sound of Burkina Faso explored in new compilation
by Andrew Mason
To those outside of the region, Burkina Faso may be one of the lesser-known parts of West Africa, but the landlocked country adjacent to Ghana and the Ivory Coast has a musical pedigree that can stand proudly alongside its better-known neighbors. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, not long before then-President Thomas Sankara changed the country’s name from the French-colonial-era Upper Volta to its current one, new forms of popular music emerged as a soundtrack to the cultural revolution. In a new compilation, dedicated and respectful reissuers Mr Bongo have presented a widely varied overview of the songs that accompanied that crucial period of the country’s history.
No compilation of music from Burkina Faso would be complete without the songs of Amadou Balaké, probably the biggest musical star to emerge from the small country, and this collection includes a healthy serving, ranging from modern takes on the traditional Mandé style to intentional interpretations of contemporary Latin American music. A major proponent and proselytizer for Latin sounds who consistently incorporated them in his own music, his Afro-charanga “Whiskey Et Coca-Cola,” included here, became popular on the northern coast of Colombia, lately reclassified as a champeta classic by Barranquilla and Cartagena sound systems.
The compilation crosses decades into the ’80s with the synth-laced Afro-disco sound of Pierre Sandwidi’s “Boy Cuisiner,” an effervescent bubbler certain to find its way into the DJ sets of those into the so-called tropical sound.
It is axiomatic that any current African collection must include some straight-up funk (I’m not complaining!), and Mr. Bongo checks that box with a tasty instrumental from Mangue Kondé et Les 5 Consuls that could easily be mistaken for a JB’s outtake, complete with monster drum break. We can only hope that “Pop Kondé” finds its way to a properly reissued 7-inch single, as this is one that begs to be cut up for the b-boys and girls out there.
The Original Sound of Burkina Faso is available as deluxe 2-LP gatefold vinyl, CD and digital, including a booklet with vintage photographs and extensive liner notes from compilers David “Mr Bongo” Buttle and Florent Mazzoleni.
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