Album: Ali Farka Toure

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The Independent Culture

Red & Green brings together, for the first time in more than a decade, Ali Farka Toure's long-deleted Red and Green albums, the last of the seven LPs he recorded for the Parisian label Sonodisc between 1975 and 1988. They were the albums that introduced Toure to an Anglo-American audience, and that inspired World Circuit to sign him up. Dating from 1984 and 1988, respectively, they capture the Malian guitarist in simple settings that allow his guitar style to weave its magic, aided only by the calabash percussion of Hammer Sankare and, on a few tracks of Green, the traditional n'goni guitar of Ousmane Gadjaka. While it's readily apparent from Toure's blues-inflected playing why he's called "the Malian John Lee Hooker", it's also possible to hear, in tracks such as "Ali Aoudy", similarities with British folk-blues pickers such as Davy Graham and Bert Jansch. And while his material is firmly rooted in native traditions, it's not closed to outside influences: "La Drogue", for instance, is built on the familiar guitar intro from "My Girl", here turned into a cyclical groove for Toure's sermon on the value of friendship: "If you put a teapot upon your stove/ Your friends gather round you/ That should suffice as luxury and pleasure." What, no PlayStation?