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Youssou N'Dour: The Guide (Wommat)

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: Columbia Records
Released: 1994
Category: World Music
Producer(s): See Artists ...
Rating: *********. (9/10)
Media type: CD
Web address: www.youssou.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2000.09.15
Price in €: 11,99

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Leaving (Dem) (N'Dour) - 5:03
[2] Old Man (Gorgui) (N'Dour) - 6:30
[3] Without a Smile (Same) (N'Dour) - 4:12
[4] Mame Bamba (M'baye/N'Dour/N'Dour/Rome) - 4:58
[5] 7 Seconds (Cherry/McVey/N'Dour/Sharp) - 5:06
[6] How You Are (No Mele) (Faye/Gueye/N'Dour) - 3:39
[7] Generations (Diam One) (N'Dour) - 4:56
[8] Tourista (N'Dour/Rykiel) - 4:36
[9] Undecided (Japoulo) (Faye/N'Dour/Rykiel) - 5:25
[10] Love One Another (Beuguente) (N'Dour/Rykiel) - 4:51
[11] Life (Adouna) (N'Dour/Rykiel) - 4:05
[12] My People (Samay Nit) (N'Dlaye/N'Dour) - 4:37
[13] Oh Boy (N'Dour) - 4:37
[14] Silence (Tango) (N'Dour) - 4:38
[15] Chimes of Freedom (Dylan) - 4:52
[16] Undecided [Deep Radio Mix] (Faye/N'Dour/Rykiel) - 6:01

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Youssou N'Dour - Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals, Producer, Assistant Engineer

Neneh Cherry - Vocals on [5]
Habib Faye - Guitar, Arranger, Keyboards, Producer
Glen Ferris - Trombone
Thierno Koite - Alto & Soprano Saxophone
Branford Marsalis - Saxophone
Pape Oumar Ngom - Rhythm Guitar
Jean Philippe Rykiel - Arranger, Keyboards, Producer, Drum Programming
Assane Thiam - Tama
Mark Roberts - Percussion
Mamadou (Jimi) Mbaye - Guitar
Mathew Russell - Horn Director

Babacar Faye - Percussion, Background Vocals
Vivane Chudid - Background Vocals
Julia Saar - Background Vocals
Lokua Kanza - Background Vocals
Oussey Ndiaye - Background Vocals

Johnny $ - Producer on [5]
Eric Moquet - Producer on [16]
Michel Sanchez - Producer on [16]
Booga Bear - Producer, Engineer
Philippe Brun - Engineer, Mastering, Mixing
Verna Gillis - Executive Producer
Spencer May - Assistant Engineer
Christopher Austopchuk - Art Direction
Tracy Boychuk - Design
Raphael Jonin - Engineer, Mastering
Andrew Eccles - Photography

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

The father of mbalax, a jumping, complicated blend of African, Caribbean and pop rhythms, Youssou N'Dour is a Senegalese performer who is proud to be constantly evolving and perfecting his music. While he seeks to appeal to a world-wide audience, he also remains true to his cultural roots, and where many other West African performers emigrate to Paris to record and be closer to the European music scene, he is content to remain in Dakar and record out of his modern Studio Xippi so he can remain near his family and biggest fans. Though he spends considerable time touring every year, he tries to set aside at least three months annually to be at home with his wife and three kids.

N'Dour has been performing since he was 12 and early on became famous after joining the Star Band de Dakar. Later he left them to found Etoile de Dakar. A few years later he moved on to found Super Etoile. For a while he did live and record in Paris, but then returned to Senegal. A singer with a wide vocal range, N'Dour's earliest work was noted for a high clear wailing sound, as can be heard on Peter Gabriel's 1986 hit single "In Your Eyes," the song that gained N'Dour international recognition. In the mid-'90s, N'Dour began singing more quietly in a lower range, a change he attributes to a broader base of life experience. Before, he concentrated on live performances, but as he has been doing more studio work, N'Dour is into experimenting and exploring the full extent of his vocal range as can be heard on his 1994 album The Guide (Wommat) and 2000's Joko (The Link).

Sandra - All Music Guide

Youssou N'Dour is a Senegalese singer who documents the intersection of the past and the present, so it is no surprise that there is a parable in every song on Wommat (The Guide). The record is propelled by talking drums, a horn section and guitar and bass polyrhythms that will sound familiar to fans of South African township music (or Paul Simon's masterpiece Graceland), and N'Dour's distinctive voice (in Wolof and French, with a smattering of English) is captivating. Unfortunately, The Guide is overproduced and seldom lives up to the promise of "7 Seconds," the vaguely menacing duet with Neneh Cherry. Buy it to hear N'Dour's voice soar through the history and lessons of The Guide.

Peter Stepek - All Music Guide

You can waste a great deal of time discussing whether The Guide is in fact a world music record or an international pop record, or even something in between. The way to use that time wisely is to allow the international appeal of Youssou N'Dour's voice make you forget you ever started the discussion. Granted, a record that permits tribal drumming, soul horn sections, breezy tropical rhythms, fusion jazz and artists Branford Marsalis and Neneh Cherry to share the same stage is sure to draw fire from any number of purist camps. Did we mention there's a Bob Dylan cover here too? Whether the grooves come from N'Dour's native Senegal or parts beyond, those rhythms are tuned to float under his voice, a wonderfully vibrant instrument that dispenses rich trills in French, Wolof and English. Throughout The Guide, his voice keeps calling, reminding you that his music is meant to inspire, to encourage and to promote unity. Lesser artists have made such intentions distressingly trite, but N'Dour lyrics are refreshingly succinct, and his singing ignites the message sweetly. Hear: "7 Seconds" (with Cherry), the tribal take on Dylan's "Chimes Of Freedom," "Old Man" and "Maine Bamba" (with Marsalis).

Steve Ciabattoni, CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 385 - Jun 20, 1994

Weitaus mehr Feeling beweist Youssou N'Dour aus dem Senegal: Auf The Guide verbrüdert sich der westliche Sound noch stärker als bisher mit traditionellen, afrikanischen Klängen: zu Multikulti-Pop mit Tiefgang.

© Audio

Bislang kannte ich Youssou N'Dour nur von gelegnetlichen Gastauftritten bei Peter Gabriel, z.B. auf Tourneen oder Konzertvideos. Dann kam "7 Seconds". Und dann dieses großartige Album, über das ich gerade schreibe. Alles war ganz anders, als man es kennt. Den Klang der Rhythmen kann ich eigentlich nur als "Afrikanisch" bezeichnen, obwohl mir gar nicht soviele exotische Instrumente beteiligt zu sein scheinen. Und vom Text hab ich nicht ein Wort verstanden (O.K. bei 7 Seconds ist es anders und man kann ja auch im Booklet die Übersetzung nachlesen). Für jemanden wie mich, der sonst immer über den Text zu einem Lied findet, war das eine sehr interessante Erfahrung. Und ich kann jedem Leser die Rezension nur raten, diese Erfahrung mit mir zu teilen: Kauft Euch diese Scheibe!

Youssou N'Dour, a superstar at home in Senegal and in most of Africa, possesses an astonishingly strong and supple high-tenor voice, and he writes tuneful, insightful songs about his fellow West Africans' transition from isolated rural villages to cosmopolitan big cities. The Guide (Wommat) includes several calculated enticements to lure an Anglo-American audience: a bilingual duet with hip-hop star Neneh Cherry on "Seven Seconds," a guest appearance by saxophonist Branford Marsalis on "Without a Smile," and a bilingual version of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom." The Marsalis and Dylan experiments work, while the Cherry one doesn't, but they're superfluous to the main focus of the album, which is N'Dour's shift from a bandleader to a singer/songwriter with a backing band. The infectious mbalax rhythms of Senegal are still there, but they're pushed down in the mix so the focus is on N'Dour's vocals. There are some missteps, like the simple-minded cheerleading of "Tourista" and "Love One Another," but for the most part N'Dour comes across as the Stevie Wonder of West Africa.

Geoffrey Himes - Amazon.com

I purchased this CD several years ago. I'd never heard N'Dour before then, but was intrigued by peter Gabriel's statement that N'Dour was the best vocalist alive. I shy away from absolute statements like the previous, but agree whole heartedly that Youssou N'Dour is ONE of the world's best singers. His vocal range may not immediately attract your attention, but repeated listens will surprise and satisfy many close listens. The duet with Neneh Cherry is one of the best songs recorded in the '90s. The social message positive, the groove eminently danceable, and the melody uplifting. The violin solo works! The other songs are less exceptional than 7 Seconds, but the message of hope and joy in life consistent (n.b How You Are). For all lovers of music which marries traditional sounds and instruments with modern recording values and styles. Admittedly, my love of 7 Seconds makes this CD a must have in my books, regardless of relative quality of the other tunes.

The Stewman from Canada

Youssou N'Dour's newest U.S. release is his best so far. It combines the fire and passion of his African cassettes with a thorough professionalism in recording and production. A few minor quibblings aside, this is a masterwork.

Once again N'Dour sings in his native Wolof, French, and a much improved English. (Reportedly, he rerecorded the English vocals for the American audience.) He's certainly not going to win prizes for English poetry, but then neither are his words bumbling. They speak with a direct sincerity that is the antithesis of his swirling tunes and vocals. His band backs him up wonderfully, and have never sounded both so homey and so competent; none of the chunky electronics of The Lion mar this album. Unfortunately Big Name Guest Stars spoil wherever they appear. On "7 Seconds" Nenah Cherry sings (in English) a duet with Youssou; it's tolerable soul, but terrible mbalax. Another piece has a rapper on it; I understand the transoceanic point N'Dour is trying to make, but the two styles do not fit well together."How You Are" is a fascinating piece built from a list of African countries and their dates of independence. The one that will get the most notice though is the cover of Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom," sung almost totally in Wolof. It's a stately, majestic, version, far superior to the version N'Dour used to perform on the Amnesty International tour.

Winthrop Dahl, August 1, 1994 © Dirty Linen

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