Angelique Kidjo: Remain In Light review – reimagining the Talking Heads game-changer

Fri, Jun 1, 2018, 05:00


Remain in Light

Angelique Kidjo


World Music

Talking Heads’ Remain In Light was a game-changer in 1980, a synthesis of rock and funk, informed by David Byrne and Brian Eno’s enthusiasm for Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat.

A young Angelique Kidjo, newly arrived in Paris from Benin, connected immediately to the African-inspired trance elements and was smitten. Now she offers her own version, re-imagining the entire album from an African perspective.

Does it work? Mostly, yes.

Kidjo has a voice of impressive power that propels Crosseyed and Painless into an irresistible groove, but she lacks Byrne’s quirky, manic edge. Consequently, Once in a Lifetime doesn’t transfer so well, although to compensate there is a great brass and percussion work-out in the coda.

Indeed, there is extra musical depth throughout, with the funky, riffing horns of New York Afrobeat veterans Antibalas, jazz inflections from Lionel Loueke, African percussion from Magatte Sow, and on two tracks the masterly driving force of drummer Tony Allen.

Kidjo adds vocal refrains here, channels a Fela chorus line there, and on the last two pieces modulates her muscular vocals in warm readings of Listening Wind and, particularly, The Overload.