The Taureg nomads roam the deserts between Mali and Libya, and for two decades have waged a war for autonomy on both governments. In the early '80s, a band of Taureg men did something revolutionary: They picked up electric guitars, invited women to sing with them, and started making music that spoke to their struggle. When Robert Plant became Tinariwen's champion, international audiences immediately welcomed the group to the world music fold. It's easy to understand Plant's attraction: The tunes on Amassakoul ride the kind of hard, sinuous grooves Led Zep mastered, and there's a hypnotic quality to the vocal interplay between the growling male and wailing female voices. The lead guitar brings to mind everyone from Ali Farka Touré to Pops Staples, and the band drops bits of rap, funk, rock, and blues into this soulful desert music, creating a timeless sound that's both desolate and comforting.


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