Mississippi Records


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One of the greatest, heaviest, and most sought-after guitar records from 1970s West Africa, available on vinyl for the first time in over a decade!!! Bamako, Mali, 1973: Rail Band, the official orchestra of the Malian state railway, drops their self-titled LP. It's a relentlessly soulful and hypnotic blend of American funk, jazz horns, and Afro-Cuban music, reflected through centuries-old Mandé tradition and blasted at top volume by some of the continent's greatest artists. Led by legendary trumpet and saxman Tidiani Koné and held aloft by the intricate web of Djelimady Tounkara's rumbling, reverb-soaked guitar, Rail Band's sprawling compositions embody West African storytelling traditions while exulting in the technology and modernity of a newly independent Mali. Vocalists Salif Keita and Mory Kanté, two heroes of African music who would achieve global fame as soloists, are endlessly emotive, oscillating between silky ballads and funk screams. The band's sound is filled out by layers of percussion, rolling guitars, and melodic horns filtered through the Caribbean. Starting in 1970, Rail Band played five nights a week, from 2 pm til the early hours, at the Buffet Hotel de la Gare. Their audience was an international array of businessmen, young partiers, and people of the Bamako night. The band was incredibly versatile, switching genres, rhythms, and styles to meet their crowd. It was a volatile mix, one that would fall apart soon after these recordings were made, with Salif Keita's departure to start the rival Les Ambassadeurs. Though Rail Band continued in many distinguished forms, the eight songs on this album reveal one of the greatest bands to ever exist, at the height of their creative powers.