on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 14 Jun

Remain In Light 2

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off


„Inspired by nascent hip-hop, Fela Kuti and the trance-like rhythmic rituals of Haitian voodoo, Talking Heads’ 1980 LP Remain in Light – and its lead single „Once in a Lifetime“ – served as a gateway into African music for many of us. It thus makes perfect sense for the Benin-born singer Angélique Kidjo to further “Africanise” the album.

Kidjo, who has always said that she is as much influenced by James Brown and Otis Redding as she is by African musicians, tonight refashions Talking Heads as a frenetic Afrobeat orchestra. Where David Byrne was nervy and neurotic, Kidjo is forthright and regal, lingering on some of Byrne’s seemingly random lyrics; where Talking Heads’ punk-funk was jerky and machine-like, Kidjo’s band add syncopated horn blasts, spangly high-life guitar and some astonishing rhythms, with kit drummer Yayo Serka (from Chile) and hand percussionist Magatte Sow (from Senegal) turning the beats inside out.

By the second song – where Kidjo transforms Crosseyed and Painless into a jittery slice of horn-heavy Afrobeat – much of the audience were rocking so hard in their seats that you wonder why the gig hadn’t been scheduled in a standup venue. Soon the entire audience were on their feet, as Kidjo wandered into the audience and interspersed the Talking Heads album with other songs – her feminist anthem Cauri, her praise song Afirika and Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata.

By the finale – a 15-minute take on Kidjo’s song Tumba – she’s joined on stage by an African djembe player, two Punjabi dhol drummers, and around 50 audience members, all dancing manically. For the encore, she strays from Remain in Light once more for a thrilling Afro-Cuban version of Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House. Cultural appropriation has never sounded this good.“

(John Lewis, The Guardian)


Question is: is it that good? With all due respect (I mean, Tony Allen on drums, master of the Afro Beat), with no doubts of being impressed by the re-shaping, the inventiveness of the arrangements, the passion involved, everything, I would always prefer the original version, and I dare to say, it‘s not a matter of nostalgia, or recurring to „the real thing“. Arguing what the „real thing“ is, might lead to funny conversations here.

(M. E.)

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