Something old, something new, there’s something in today’s music roundup for everybody.
“Afrique Victime”: Mdou Moctar
“Afrique Victime” is going straight into heavy rotation at my house. Most of the time when I listen to new music, I can sort it into one of three categories: “no thanks,” “so-so,” and “I might like this.” After giving music from the “I might like this” category another spin or two, I can decide if I’m going to want to add it to my library or move on.
Much more rarely, I immediately love something and want to listen to it again and again. That’s where Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar landed. Almost immediately I was grabbed by “Chismiten,” the first track on the album. And it never let up.
Moctar is from Agadez, Niger and his site says he was inspired by YouTube videos of Van Halen and built his own guitar, recording music that was distributed by mobile phone data cards. The Bandcamp page for the album describes this as “mid-’70s to early ’80s Van Halen meets Black Flag meets Black Uhuru.”
To be honest, I’m not hearing the Black Flag bit at all, but it’s amazing nonetheless. Moctar is singing in Tamasheq, so I have no idea what the lyrics are to any of the songs on the album, but that hasn’t impeded my enjoyment of the work one tiny bit.
“Hail Satin”: Foo Fighters go Disco
Turns out, disco didn’t suck. Well, some of it did, just like any other genre… but Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Abba and many others actually turned out some damn good songs that still get the blood pumping and feet tapping today. In fact, if I’m being honest, I’d rather listen to disco than some of the music that was cool back then.
I’m pleased to see Foo Fighters taking a swing at several disco cuts and doing it well. Taking a turn as the “Dee Gees,” they tackle five Bee Gees classics including “You Should Be Dancing” and “Shadow Dancing” on their Record Store Day album Hail Satin, plus five Foo Fighters cuts live on side B.
Clearly they had a lot of fun with it, and it shows. This is not an album that will make a top 500 or top 1,000 “albums you must hear before you die” list, but if I still had a commute I’d definitely pop it into the mix for driving to or from work.
If you’re old enough to remember these songs the first time around, you’ll probably enjoy having them revisited by Foo Fighters. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it’ll also inspire some younger audiences to go back and engage with the Bee Gees and some other disco classics and appreciate them on their own merits.
“I Advance Masked”: Andy Summers w/Robert Fripp
Once The Police split up, I didn’t really follow the solo careers of the band members. Sting’s solo stuff was a little too soft for me at the time (might do with a revisit), and Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland didn’t get a lot of the spotlight afterwards. (Of course, you’ve probably heard a lot of Copeland’s stuff over the years since in movies and TV shows, but you might not know that you’re hearing his work…)
After hearing a particularly good cover of Summers’ “Love Is The Strangest Way” by Adam Rabin, I decided to dig into Summers’ back catalog starting with his 1982 collaboration with Robert Fripp. I Advance Masked caught my eye because Spotify showed it as released in 2021 (?) and the title certainly seemed appropriate.
It’s definitely worth a listen. It’s indulgent in spots, but the overall effort is well worth a spin or two.