Too Late to Stop Now
Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta
Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., Dec. 16, 2016
Teeming with excitement from the independence of France, the Republic of Upper Volta in Africa became the epicenter of a music revolution in the Seventies. The cultural capital, Bobo-Dioulasso, exploded with new bands crisscrossing rock & roll and Afro-Cuban jazz, including Volta Jazz, Dafra Star, Echo Del Africa, and Les Imbattables Léopards, all chronicled on 3-CD overview Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta. Borrowing the Beatles' "yeah yeah yeah," the French Yéyé movement mirrored similar pop music movements in neighboring romance language centers (Italy, Spain), and found a global foothold in the success of Serge Gainsbourg in the early Sixties. Chicago archivists the Numero Group rounded up 37 songs fusing that swash of international trends to an Afro-Caribbean identity. Latin influence drives a mélange of conga percussion and tropical xylophones fused to American rock amplification, wherein sinewy guitar jangles and rumbling bass unfurls both exploratory jazz and Sixties guitar god improvisation. Consider this Belle Époque (Beautiful Age) an Atlantis of discovery, imagination and innovation found in an unlikely place.