ARTIST: Angelique Kidjo
TITLE: Remain In Light
Remain In Light by Talking Heads is one of the last albums I thought needed to be remade. This 1980 classic is the high point of that band’s career and a master class in employing an African sensibility without resorting to mere imitation. Beninois singer Angelique Kidjo, who’s lived in Europe and the USA for the last 35 years, hears the album differently than I do. To her, David Byrne’s lyrics aren’t absurd; they’re African, speaking directly about colonialism, corruption and government lies. She, her band and producer Jeff Bhasker recreate the music from the bottom up, with new percussion arrangements for each song; the use of balafon on 7 is a revelation. And she reworks some of the lyrics as well, adding verses in Yoruba and Fon and interpolating Fela Kuti’s “Lady” into “Crosseyed And Painless” (track 2). The original album’s brilliant Side One (tracks 1, 2 and 3) is somehow just as jittery, propulsive and compelling in this version. And the chilling 6 (about identity) and 7 (about terrorism) gain new meaning when heard in this more explicitly African context. Kudos to Kidjo, who’s made one of the most imaginative albums I’ve heard all year.
TOP TRACKS: 1 2 3 6 7
ALSO RECOMMENDED: 4 5 8
Bill Lupoletti is world music director at WRIR 97.3 FM and wrir.org in Richmond, Virginia, where he hosts the Global A Go-Go radio program on Wednesdays at 3 PM and writes the globalagogo.com world music blog.