Soundiata, Rail Band 1 (Sterns Africa, 2007)
The Rail Band is one of those indispensable groups that served as a musical school for musicians that later became well known across the globe. This collection includes two vocalists that later became stars in the African music scene: Salif Keita and Mory Kanté. The story of the Rail Band is fascinating. The Malian government created a subsidy in the 1950s for local groups to integrate indigenous folk traditions into their music, including Manding jeli songs and hunting songs, which the band mixed in with its Afro-Cuban dance rhythms, electric guitars and trap drums. For years, the band anchored a lively international scene at the dance bar operated by the Mali Rail Company at the railway station in Bamako, Mali’s capital.
The double CD Soundiata captures the magic of the first 13 years of the band, from 1970 to 1983. Elaborate electric guitar work which emulated the kora, outstanding vocals, West African percussion and influences from the African diaspora were all combined to create some of the most exciting music in Western Africa.
The booklet comes in English and French, with details about the band’s history, as well as vintage photos.
Soundiata demonstrates why The Rail Band is one of the essential artists in Malian music.