Review Revue: Ali Farka Toure – African Blues


I have had a couple KCMU vets mention to me that albums by international artists would make for interesting reading, as the DJs would often start spouting off on the album covers without having much in the way of knowledge or understanding about what they were actually talking about. That in mind, last time I stopped by the station I dug through the international section a bit more than usual (as you might have noticed already by some of the other selections of the past several weeks.)

At the risk of falling victim to that very scenario (I know just enough about many things to get myself in trouble), I will say that by the time of his death in 2006, Ali Farka Toure was renowned across the globe as the godfather of so-called “Desert Blues,” and his son Vieux had just begun carrying on in his own right (you can hear his KEXP performance from last year here). When this album came into the station in 1990, though, it’s entirely possible – indeed quite probable – that very few of the people there had any idea who this African guy with the (Formica?) guitar was, or where this music came from.

“Pron: AH-LEE, FARKAH TOO-RAY. Ali is from Mali and he plays The Blues on what looks like the world’s first Formica guitar.”


“I love the fusion of African & Blues. This guy does it best. 1-1, 1-4 nice; 2-2 almost a beat-poet sound. Wow! 2-4 closer to blues…”

“This guy plays music from the Birthplace of the Blues, Mali in West Africa, it’s not a fusion of ‘African’ + ‘Blues’ — it’s genuine Bluesy African music. This album is an older release than his Mango/World Circuit release of last year and subsequently is less produced. Lots of raw, piercing Blues energy. H.”

“Oops — sorry! I’ll check with you guys first next time and be more careful of my terminology.”

“Endorsed 9 May ’90. — Michael”

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