SALIF KEITA M'Bemba (Universal Jazz France)
Salif Keita's an amazingly voiced one - that hardly needs saying. But you never really know what he's going to do with it, and things which seem ground breaking at the time can date horribly, the classic example being Soro. So it was with considerable relief that the assembled great and good of the world music scene hailed 2002's Moffou, for his return to roots and a beautiful semi-acoustic production.
And no sooner had they done that than a truly awful remix version of it came out, as classic an example of clutching at straws and missing the point as you can imagine. So, uh oh - here's M'bemba, another Salif Keita CD: wind up the trepidation levels again! Well, good to report, it's in effect a more confident, slightly more 'up' Moffou Part 2, complete with long-time associates Kanté Manfila and Ousmane Kouyaté on guitars, Toumani Diabaté's kora, Mama Sissoko's ngoni, and the very typical female harmonies which Salif likes to employ, this time including his own foster sisters.
Passionate, rounded, this is pretty much as good as Salif's music gets, and for anybody just discovering either him or the glories of Malian music in general, it's a perfect entry point. And yet, for that very reason, and lovely though it is, I keep finding it heading for the comfort zone. There are few surprises at all in the instrumental and vocal blend, the melodies or his superb singing. It's simultaneously among the best records he's ever made, and yet... and yet... the attention occasionally drifts. Which could of course just be down to the unfortunate luck of turning up in the same postbag as the new Cheikh Lô . . .
Ian Anderson (from fRoots 269, November 2005)
BBC Music review and clips
Awards for World Music 2003 profile
Derell Callender, London UK
Bobo sample is an amazing piece of music. This deserves more exposure.
One of the greatest forces in the music industry. This sample here is a brilliant piece of art. Keep up the good work Salif. Mwandie
Shirley, Toronto Canada
I bought this CD after seeing Salif Keita perform for the first time in Toronto. The concert was fantastic and the CD even more so. I love it!!!!
As always, a very powerful voice and wonderful CD. Love the entire CD. I really love the song - Bobo. Thanks Salif!
I love his song. so beautiful I don't know what to say I just can't say much . No comparison at all . He is so wonderful , I wish I can get a chance to see his concert.
Salif is one of the greatest of all times.his music is universal.u do not understand wat he is saying but it touches you deep down.moffou is a master piece that only a person like Salif can compse.The Great Man knows how to make music.
Ed, London UK
I went to buy the cd in much excitement but when I looked at the liner notes in the store got the unpleasant surprise that Buju Banton is on one track. I didn't feel able to buy the cd and I hope a significant proportion of Keita's audience react in the same way.
Marika - USA
M'Bemba is a stunning album: I think it builds on Moffou. The more you listen, the richer it becomes. Great musicians; fabulous instrumentation, haunting melodies and interesting arrangements by Kante Manfila. There isn't a bad song on it, in my view. This one will endure, despite the carping critics.
Jaime Bonilla - Bogotá
Salif KEita... just the best! Bobo is just like cosmic bells to my ears!
M'Bemba is magnificent! The title track in particular is full of splendour and majesty. Almost but not quite as good as the classic Moffou, which I'm sure is the album Salif will be remembered for. Giorgio's comment about one of the backing musicians: these are African Muslims, think of your own country's record on race instead.
Gina - Canada
I love it!!!!!!
A good CD, but with few surprises, except for one unpleasant one -- the presence of vicious homophobe Buju Banton one 1 track.
This is one of Salif's best albums. Not as good or better than Mouffou unfortunately. That's where it ONLY disappoints.
Mick - Swansea
Find myself half agreeing and half in disagreement with the above review. Its a much visable fact that music journalists always like to have a side swipe at Salif Keita. I've never really understood this and suspect it is more to do with the fact that he isn't media friendly and that it is just cool to dislike him. How unfavourable comparisons can be made between Salifs release and Cheikh Lo's release mystifies me. Sure Lampfall is an interesting CD but most of the time it doesn't completely work whereas both of Salif's last two releases (not including the aforementioned awful remix album) have been awesome, (which is more than can be said of Bambay Gueej. I'm happy to be uncool - this is a phenomenal release and most people I know who have no axe to grind who have heard it think the same.
what else can one expect form salif - he is the man!!!!!!!!!