Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cotonou Club

by Orchestre Poly-Rythmo

The Orchestre Poly-Rythmo were the giants of the Beninese musical scene in the late 60s and early 70s, but like many bands on the African continent, had fallen into a state of neglect and collective amnesia before the recent resurgence of interest in afro-funk and rock.  Unlike many other bands though, this large and ever-shifting group has continued to play since that era, although prior to the mid-00s, they had never performed outside of Africa.

Enter an intrepid French A&R person, Elodie Maillot, who, if we are to take the rather self-absorbed and self-serving liner notes at face value, has single-handedly revived the careers of the band, having organized and filmed a number of their performances back home and abroad.  Her actions, despite the tone in the notes, did result in this album of new material being written and recorded, and that is a very good thing.

On the eleven tracks presented on Cotonou Club, we can hear a great deal of energy and vibrancy coming from the aging musicians.  They are continuing the traditions of African music, as they were interpreted in the era of Fela Kuti, but have also updated their sound to reflect the times.  It's a very nice album.

I'm not sure why so much is made of the fact that two musicians from the group Franz Ferdinand are sitting in on one track here.  Would that bring in more sales?  I don't perceive them as having added or deleted anything from the track.

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