In This Bobo Yéyé Box Set, Find The Creativity And Optimism Of A Lost World The new release, Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta, contains music from a rich cultural moment in Burkina Faso just after it achieved independence from France.
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In This Bobo Yéyé Box Set, Find The Creativity And Optimism Of A Lost World

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In This Bobo Yéyé Box Set, Find The Creativity And Optimism Of A Lost World

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Music Reviews

In This Bobo Yéyé Box Set, Find The Creativity And Optimism Of A Lost World

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(SOUNDBITE OF VOLTA JAZZ SONG, "FITRI MAWALY")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This music has been described as Bobo Yeye. Bobo refers to Bobo Dioulasso, a city in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Yeye is what French speakers called pop music in the 1960s and '70s. The name was inspired by The Beatles' hit song "She Loves You," yeah, yeah, yeah. Banning Eyre says a new box set titled "Bobo Yeye" reveals music that was swept away by history.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Imagine that an important American musical city, one at the crossroads of commerce and culture - say Memphis, Tenn. - were unknown to the world. This box set opens a window on such a world - the town of Bobo Dioulasso in Upper Volta. That's the name Burkina Faso went by during the French colonial period.

French author and producer Florent Mazzoleni has spent years visiting that city literally going door to door to collect vinyl records that rarely circulated beyond the country's borders. He named his box set "Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta," belle epoque meaning a beautiful era.

(SOUNDBITE OF VOLTA JAZZ SONG, "BENI DJARABI")

EYRE: This is Volta Jazz, one of the most prominent bands at this time. You hear a strong Afro-Cuban influence in this song because Latin music was huge in West Africa in the '60s. Bobo was a market center and an army town, booming, full of nightclubs and bands that catered to local soldiers and visitors alike. All sorts of cultures collided merrily in this hopeful milieu, including rock and roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BI KAMELEOU")

VOLTA JAZZ: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: The bands featured in this box set are all processing the excitement, complexity and upheaval of Upper Volta's recent independence from France. Radio is introducing new sounds, and musicians and fans are keen to fuse their local identity with international trends.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE NWOLO")

TIDIANE COULIBALY: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Listen to the way Tidiane Coulibaly and his band Dafra Star incorporate the region's most prominent instrument, the wooden xylophone known as balafon, into electric guitar pop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE NWOLO")

COULIBALY: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Unfortunately this rich cultural moment was crushed after 1984 when a new military leader, Thomas Sankara, imposed a curfew in the country's cities and decreed that musicians could no longer charge money for their concerts.

This box set gives us 41 tracks and over 100 black-and-white photographs depicting stylish musicians and their fans, African mods and urban warriors, young people with high hopes and big dreams. Bobo Yeye lets us savor the seductive creativity and optimism of a lost world, a belle epoque indeed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ECHO DEL AFRICA SONG, "GENTLEMEN DOROMINA")

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is a senior producer for Afropop Worldwide. He reviewed the box set "Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta."

(SOUNDBITE OF ECHO DEL AFRICA SONG, "GENTLEMEN DOROMINA")

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