Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tinariwen: Live in Paris [Anti-, 2015]
Less than a year ago at the Bouffes du Nord, an elegantly refurbished old venue barely two miles from the bohemian Bataclan, the world's most renowned Malian musicians put on a show for a mixed audience of Christians, Muslims, and rank unbelievers. All were there to immerse in what an ISIS mission statement brands the "perversion" of live music, in this case by Tuaregs whose woman-friendly variant of Islam was embodied by special guest Lalla Badi, the 75-year-old queen of tind้, a drum played exclusively by women who are also entrusted with a trove of ceremonial lyics. Although some Tuaregs have banded with the Saharan Islamists of northern Mali in pursuit of Tuareg statehood and their next meal, many more love music, and as we know better now than we could have then, on this particular night these particular Tuareg musicians were a freedom force without borders. Having always found Tinariwen's groundbreaking popularization of Saharan guitar a touch solemn, I'm glad the live remakes are rougher--so spirited alongside Badi's raw, regal cameos. All these human beings had a shared life to celebrate that night. Now, so do we--the devout and the impious alike. A-