Viva Bawobab S1/ Si Bou Odja (New LP)Orchestra Baobab
Label: Sterns Music
"In the same year, 1981, that Orchestra Baobab recorded their second album under the direction of budding young Senegalese producer, Ibrahima Sylla, the Japanese electronics company Sony, held a press conference in Vienna to announce their version of the Compact Disc. In attendance was Herbert von Karajan, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and the urban myth – albeit possibly true – that the maximum length of 74 minutes of music then available for a CD, was because this allowed the entire length of Karajan's recording of Beethoven's 9 th Symphony, to fit on one disc.
Fast forward 12 years to London in 1993 and Sterns' release of Baobab's 'Bamba' CD which combined tracks from the two vinyl albums 'Mouhamadou Bamba' & 'Viva Bawobab S1/ Si Bou Odja', and Sterns had a problem. What tracks to keep, what to drop and once you'd decided that, how to fit them all onto a CD in under 74 minutes? The solution was to edit, primarily by fading early, one of the longest tracks of the selection.
Accordingly the first track of this album, “Sibou Odia”, was reduced from 14'35” to 13'41” and, in most cases, none were the wiser as the suggestion to call the CD version an “Edit” had been dropped on the basis that nobody would believe a 13+ minutes track was an edit! Now of course, such restrictions don't exist and either via a repiication of its original format on vinyl, or through the digital medium, you can hear the full-length version as first intended.
And it's fascinating, not just this track but the whole album. The band is young, energetic and confident of their abilities. In the 'missing' 66 seconds you hear them live, in the studio, working together to close what indeed was something of an epic performance. And it's not just the musicians who have greater confidence. The recording itself is more accomplished, better balanced. However effective the echoey ambiance of, for example, “Mouhamadou Bamba” was on the first album, you don't find the same tricks here. They're not needed. Instead the core unit of bass, drums and guitar, ably abetted by more percussion, a second guitar and on-the-button horns, provide a solid foundation from which the five vocalists and featured instrumentalists can launch and then soar."