Produced in France, the three albums summarized by this compilation (Sou Ni Tilé in 98, Tje Ni Mousso in 99 and Wati in 2002) could well provide the term “world music” with its definition: as one of their songs says, “The world is no eternal dwelling place, it’s a parlour for chatting.” In other words, it’s a space open to all, and to any and all subjects.
Many songs included here refer to the tradition of never-ending discussions that is so essential to Africa. Les Temps Ont Changé, for example, expresses regret for bygone days when men would meet under a tree to discuss the problems of their townships: everyday problems faced by men and women (echoed by Pauvre Type, Fantani or Djagnéba), tales of debts and solitude, and other difficulties that were 24/7. The songs of Amadou & Mariam, coming at a time when traditional society in Mali was undergoing a profound rethink, outlined their desire to substitute themselves for these village gatherings. Not through any sudden moralizing outburst but, on the contrary, through the effect of a survival reflex, as if they were steered by a deep desire to avoid indifference contaminating these rapports (as was commonplace in industrialized nations). It would explain how their simple, insanely naïve way of singing about love
(in Je Pense à Toi) owes as much to the deeply-rooted sentiments they feel for each other as it does to that extremely keen awareness of interdependency which, in Africa more than anywhere else, ties each to one’s neighbour. If their music has the freshness of a spring, their words, on the other hand, never tire of distilling counsel and recommendations; this manner of keeping an eye open for trouble, of preaching respect, patience and tolerance, finally unfurls all little local virtues to become universal wisdom. With their preserved candor, Amadou and Mariam speak to us of harmony’s superiority over discord.
Guided by the eyes of their hearts, they succeed in returning sight to those who thought they could already see.
Reviews"Amadou and Mariam have came upon a winning formula for blending the Bambara music of their ancestors with raw, rootsy rock Y roll.Amadou said, 'We are more or less the first artists in Mali music to create a style that is both blues and rock, and Malian at the same time.'