The Godfather of Soul’s influence throughout the world is well known. Far and wide, everyone who had a band in the late 60’s and early 70’s had their own rendition of one of his songs. Africa was no exception. His influence touched musicians like Fela Kuti and bands like the Funkees, even if they weren’t exclusively covering his songs. It was there. There is no doubt. One such band, with a storied history was The Rail Band. This band performed the exciting soundtrack to a colorful Mail in the early 1970’s. Competing with other bands playing fusion in Dakar or Conakry nightclubs, Tidiane Kodi (A former Orchestre National A musician) went on to recruit some musicians to break out of the Afro-Cuban Jazz sound that was common at the time in Mali. Bringing in vocalist Salif Keita, Mamadu Diakite, Ousmane Sogodogo, and Nabe Baba on guitars, Marius on timbales, and percussionist Abdouramane Koumare, the band would go on to play their first gig in July 1970. From this gig on, they became on of the main attractions the country had to offer. Combining mandingo and bambara traditions, French Pop, Cobgolese rhumba, Afro-Cuban rhythms, American R & B, and Calypso, these musicians were paid by the Mailain Railroad (hence the name), who also owned their instruments as well. Their rise to fame was quick, and they regularly played 5 to 6 nights a week to a variety of different guests.
“Sex Machine” is directly inspired by James Brown, and is one of the best covers of the track we have heard here at Flea Market Funk. Rocafort Records have reissued this track on 45, and it’s a definite keeper. For these foreign musicians to not only pay tribute to JB, but to straight murder the track (in English no less), the energy is all there, as if JB were right next to them. We particularly like the “Take me under the bridge” part, which may have not translated well, but can be easily overlooked the cover is that slick. Mamadou Bagayoko’s heavy drums lead the charge and the outcome is a fitting tribute and smashing cover of the hardest working man in showbiz. James would be proud.
Buy the record here.