Just voted in the BBC’s best African song poll. I voted for Mariam and Amadou’s Pauvre type. I first heard them singing Je pense Ã toi on BBC West Africa in 1998 and fell in love with the song. The last verse rang especially true for me at the time:
Certains tâ€™ont promis
Y en a qui tâ€™ont promis
Et moi je nâ€™ai rien que ma pauvre guitare
Pauvre type tells the story of life for many in West Africa, barely two pennies to rub together, but a mass of friends to help you out for Saturday night fun. The poor guy of the title first goes round scrounging some decent clothes to wear, then negotiates some tea and sugar on credit from the shop owner. Finally he buys a single cigarette and sticks it in an empty packet. Eh oui, c’est comme Ã§a !
Mariam and Amadou have an official website (in French), which has an excellent trailer for a film about the making of their latest album. Manu Chao is also present.
Listen to the sample tracks if you doubt my recommendations …