Thursday, April 11, 2013

Illinois Entertainer Reviews 2012: A

AMADOU AND MARIAM: Folila (Nonesuch)

Some critics have their panties in a wad over the fact that Bertrand Cantat, one of the featured co-stars on this Malian duo’s latest motherlode of infectious global blues, has done time for killing his girlfriend lonesome-death-of-Hattie-Carroll style.  On one level, the umbrage makes sense.  But on another--the one that matters most (or at least more)--it’s beside the point, which would seem to be the sheer joy that Amadou and Mariam, even at fifty-seven and fifty-four respectively, still take in making music that you don’t have to speak the languages they sing in to love.  Thankfully, it’s a point that the other cameo makers (Theophilus London, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Santigold, members of TV on the Radio, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs) obviously got.  


Critics won’t admit it, but in perfecting the art of playing down to the masses for fun and profit, these prog-rock veterans (average age: sixty-two) have made some catchy music.  They’ve also made albums like this one--reasonable facsimiles of what made them famous, recycled and reshuffled so that even their biggest fans will be hard pressed to tell you which ’80s Asia songs the new ones sound like.  Alas, they’ll be equally hard pressed to tell the new songs apart.  Some will blame the similarity of the tempos, others the similarity of the melodies, still others the similarity of the song lengths.  No one, however, will have a stronger case than those who blame the clich├ęs, without which John Wetton would apparently have nothing at all to sing.

lIllinois Entertainer Reviews 2012: B

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