Talking Timbuktu
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Product Description

Talking Timbuktu is a groundbreaking record that vividly illustrates the Africa-Blues connection in real time. Ali Farka Toure, one of Mali's leading singer-guitarists, has a trance-like, bluesy style that, although deeply rooted in Malian tradition, bears astonishing similarity to that of John Lee Hooker or even Canned Heat. It's a mono-chordal vamp, with repetitive song lines cut with shards of blistering solo runs that shimmer like a desert mirage. Toure may be conversant with some blues artists, but it is unlikely that artists like Hooker or Robert Pete Williams ever heard these Malian roots, which makes the connection so uncanny. Ry Cooder, well versed in domestic and world guitar styles, is the perfect counterpoint in these extended songs/jams, his sinewy slide guitar intertwining with his partner's in a super world summit without barriers or borders. --Derek Rath

Customer Reviews:

  • N. Wisconsin Dogsled Adventure
    My wife and first heard this album a year ago, in Jan. 1997, in a small cafe on the tourist bug of Madeline Island in Lake Superior. There for a dogsledding trip, the island was all but deserted during the frigid winter months. But the cafe in town was warm and run by an ecclectic owners, who encouraged us to help ourselves to the beer in the fridge, and fixed us a wonderful meal. It was the last place on earth we expected to hear this type of music, but it was blasting over the cafe's stereo. We asked the owner who it was and he brought out the CD and showed us. What a find. A truly unique recording....more info
  • Another gem from the Sahara!
    As a fan of the Tuareg group "Tinariwen', I couldn't resist buying this CD when I saw that another famous native of their region hooked up with Ry Cooder. If you've ever listened to Ry's soundtrack works or his wonderful stuff on 'A Meeting by the River' or "The Buena Vista Social Club' then you'll know why he is such a great match for a veteran like Mr. Toure. Ry's son , Joachim, is a good addition with his drum work too!

    Both of these men share a love of guitar music and it shows in every track of this CD. Similar to the effect generated with listening to 'Tinariwen', Talking Timbuktu transports me to the barren- but beautiful- expanses of the Saharan regions. It doesn't matter if its Mali, Niger or Algeria- the effect is the same. If you are familiar with the region, you'll get my meaning. Its haunting and mesemerizing at the same time.

    This is an absolutely gorgeous CD. It also makes for fantastic 'road music' for when I take road trips. Trust me, its a good companion when the long trails of New Mexico and Arizona beckon and you want music for along the way. BTW- there's a good hour's worth of music here. This is no short trip! ;)

    Talking Timbuktu definitely TALKS to me! It is not a waste of money at all!...more info
    I absolutely LOVE this music! I first heard it in the movie "Unfaithful" and FINALLY tracked it down and found out the song I wanted wasnt even on the movie soundtrack, it was on another CD. I ordered it and figured I would only listen to that one song----WRONG----I love the entire CD! Its great! I think its called "African Jazz", but whatever it is, its sultry, sexy, and I could dance to it all night long. Thank you, thank you, thank you. ...more info
  • Real music
    Came to this album through Ry Cooder, and it was instrumental in getting us introduced to moderm African music. This is a wonderful album to play during reflective times, worldly, knowing and calming. Opens the heart....more info
  • If you like world music, you'll love this
    With an excellent group of guest appearances from the likes of Ry Cooder, John Patitucci and Gatemouth Brown, this collection of songs showcase Ali Farka Toure's talent and depth. Although I do not speak or understand any of the languages (and Toure can sing in 11 different tongues), the music itself establishes the emotional foundation that allows Toure's voice to evoke the listeners empathy. The album contains the hypnotic repeating figures of African folk music as well as seminal Delta blues. Well worth the price....more info
  • Finally found the groove I was looking for
    Came across this CD by accident, being a fan of Ry Cooder. Bought it on impulse, and fell in love. I had been searching for the kind of music that connected with the natural rhythms that the best world music inspires, and found it here. If you want to take a step into something completely unknown, but remarkable familiar, and play it constantly, buy this CD....more info
  • Powerful reminder of where the Blues came from.
    Like "A Meeting by the River," this is a very successful collaboration by Ry Cooder and an artist from another culture. The two of them converse readily with one another, using their instruments. Ali Farka Toure has a voice and a steel-string guitar sound that are powerful, piercing, plaintive. It is hard to believe that Ali Farka Toure is not a bluesman from the Mississippi Delta. Which is to say, this album illustrates the African roots of the Blues that were subsequently played in the U.S. This album also illustrates the development of string music in Africa. Learned about this album, and other music by Ali Farka Toure, on the NPR program "Afropop", where I also learned that string music was later brought to the U.S. by Africans imported as slaves, who then instructed their "masters" in how to play guitar, banjo, and fiddle. Albums like this one make events from other times, places, and cultures come vividly alive in the present moment....more info
  • Lost on Me
    I have spent enough time in good faith effort of listening to Ry Cooder to come to the conclusion that I cannot understand his appeal.

    I do applaud his taste. The Buena Vista Social Club is an excellent project that has brought wonderful music to a great many people, and who would argue with the greatness of Ali Farka Toure? However, when Cooder picks up his ax and starts to play along, what he produces is so uninteresting musically, in fact has so little musical content, that he adds a blunted edge to the whole. Cooder is essentially a colorist, which may be effective in film scores that carry a sentimental attachment for listeners, but when the idea is just music and listening, he's like a black hole suck out all the interest.

    This CD is a case in point. Toure was a great musician, every note he played inherently interesting, musical and soulful. Yet put him in the room with Cooder, and the result is every track is static, navel-gazing, monotonous. A terrible waste of talent and money, although if you're looking for slightly exotic aural wallpaper, this will do nicely. Not a good choice for fans of Toure or those exploring his work....more info
  • Talking Timbuktu
    I bought this after seeing the film (Unfaithful) in which it excellent album of african/blues music...very happy with my choice...more info
  • Best of two worlds
    I bought this CD because of Ry Cooder. I've loved his music since first hearing on the soundtrack for "Paris Texas." I'm also very much into indigenous and ethnic music and am happy to have discovered Ali Farka Toure in this CD. Sometimes slow, sensual, hypnotic, and bluesy like the songs Amandria (my favorite) and Ai Du, and sometimes more rhythmic with a strong beat that you want to get up and dance to, the music on this CD grabs you every which way. Ali Farka Toure's rich voice also adds another dimension to the quality of this CD, on top of the music itself. And every song is top notch. It's rare for me to like every song on a CD, but I love every song. It doesn't disappoint on any level....more info
  • Connection between American Blues and African Music
    Talking Timbuktu in collaboration with Ry Cooper, definitely connects the music of Africa with the blues music in America. There is a strong connection to blues music and of the Malian music. This is a great CD to listen to. Anyone that is a music enthusiast should get this CD. Listen to it carefully and compare it to Delta blues music. There is that powerful connection that draws the listener to succumb to the guitar and fiddle playing. This is the best CD to come out in 1994....more info
  • Alittle out there
    I got this CD because I liked the song from the movie, "Unfaithful". I like a couple of other tunes also..very unique CD..and love the guitar....more info
  • Good stuff
    I've been searching for the tune Diaraby since september. I finally found it here. I heard it on "the World" and I haven't gotten it out of my head since. I really recommend this. Great album. Get it....more info
  • This is the blues Dream Team
    "Talking Timbuktu" is one of those CDs where you have an aha moment. Oh yes, you have heard this music before and yet, not quite. Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure play beautifully together and truly bring the Mali's music straight to us. This is an extremely listenable CD and well worth the price. ...more info
  • Talking Timbuktu
  • A Treasure
    I recently purchased Talking Timbuktu and I love it. It was my first purchase by this artist. I'm sad that Mr. Toure passed away recently in his country.

    ...more info
  • Let it wash over you...
    My second favorite african CD, after Bajourou's "Big String Theory"...more info
  • Blues at an African BEST!
    I initially purchased this CD for the song 'Ai Du" from the movie "Unfaithful"...As luck would have it, if you like that song, the rest of the CD is even better. Catchy blues tunes such as that on track 5, that remind you of Chicago R&B, mixed with a New Orleans southern blues style of sound and vocals. This CD is an enjoyable, relaxing mix of sound and takes the listener into the souls of the musicians. I highly recommend this CD to anyone who wants to have a little change of pace in sound from the norm of every day radio with it's top 40 pounding out the same sound over and over. ...more info
  • Incredible!
    I bought this CD about 1 year ago and I listen to it almost everyday. Some of the best music I have heard,ever!...more info
  • Once again, Ry spreads the music...
    Ali Farka Toure was one of the greatest guitarists to come out of Africa, which is quite an achievement, given all of the talent there. His Mali blues sound was as soulful as any of the American blues masters.

    I would disagree with other reviewers who insist that Cooder has somehow watered down the music - there's great interplay between these two, and having seen Toure on a few occasions in the 90s, I'd have to say that the album did capture his sound at that point in time.

    Sadly, Ali Farka Toure passed away a few months ago (March 2006). His presence will be missed....more info
  • Ali's weakest release. Ry Cooder mixing things for the North America
    It seems clear while listening to this record that Ry Cooder was trying to get Ali's music more well known around the world, in particular, North America. What results is a record that is often overatted especially in comparison to Ali's other work. Ry Cooder is sometimes subtle in his approach, other times he seems like a guest star, and depending on your preference, this could be a good or a bad thing. For a long time, I disliked this record, after all, Ali wasen't all to happy with it, his next "Niafunke" is what he really wanted to record, and it was actually recorded in Niafunke, Mali, near Timbuktu. "Talking Timbuktu" was recorded in L.A., and while it dosen't loose all of it't other side of the world flavor, it sweetened up alot. Ry's production is far worse than Nick Gold's. Ry puts a semi-glossy reverb that allows, Ali's guitar to get lost in the mix and a contempory touch (obviously meant to draw people afraid of African music in). "Soukora" is probally the strangest track because it sounds carribean, far from the islamic/blues/african sound of Toure's past work at that point. Still Ry's influence infuses "Diaraby" and "Lasidan" with a sound that is unique in Ali's catalouge and at these moments the collaboration works. Ali Farka Toure, a genius guitar player (check out "Red" for an easy example at the hieght of his acoustic powers), Mayor of Niafunke, farmer, farther, ect passed on recently. Do yourself a favor, pick up all his releases, this is the only one that is not worth (IMO) of a 5 star rating. ...more info