Monday, September 26, 2005

Once in a Lifetime

I had been on an African music kick, so I went to the local record store (where one of the owners, Jody, knows a lot about African music) and asked for some recommendations. For reference I told her I had really been enjoying the Super Mama Djombo CD, which she had (oddly) never heard of. Anyway, she gave me three recommendations: a disc of Kenyan guitar pop, some other overview collection, and a contemporary disc by Wasis Diop.

Wasis Diop, she told me, was Senegalese but lived in Paris. Looking over the booklet I saw a few familiar names, but then "Once in a Lifetime" caught my eye. "The Talking Heads song?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Jody. "Though you won't recognize it."

"I did ..." mumbled her husband Peter at the other end of the counter.

"Well, you might, but it's still different."

I had my doubts, but both were right. The entire album is great, but this song is a pretty interesting reinvention. As far as "Remain in Light"-era THs songs go, "Once in a Lifetime" is among the least exotic and most Western sounding, in part due to Brian Eno's involvement and inspired meddling. But the distinctive chorus aside, Diop makes it sound like a traditional African song the Talking Heads subsequently ripped off, rather than the exact opposite. Quite cool, and a great way to start the disc. Or day, for that matter.

Strangely, at the store they also had the must-have/hear Golden Afrique collection for sale, right behind the counter and right behind Jody's head. Among the tracks on the double-disc set? Super Mama Djombo!


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