African

Mulatu Astatke + Black Jesus Experience ‎”To Know Without Knowing” (Agogo)

2020-05-21T20:50:21+00:00May 21st, 2020|

To Know Without Knowing, Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience’s album, is their second together. A grooving transcontinental gem, recorded in Melbourne, Australia, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Filled with the warmth of the mentorship and friendship of their creative partnership honed over a decade of performing together in Africa, Australia, and UK/Europe. Mulatu Astatke is the father of Ethio-jazz and one of Africa’s most influential and enduring musical figures. Black Jesus Experience is a community of artists, centered around a twelve-piece global-funk-machine born of Australia’s vibrant multiculturalism. Mulatu and Black Jesus Experience met in Addis Ababa in 2009, embarking on both a musical relationship and a friendship that has led Mulatu Astake to describe Black Jesus Experience as, “My favorite backing band” and, “…they’re family.” Mulatu’s great contribution to music has been to combine Jazz and funk grooves with Ethiopia’s distinctive pentatonic scales. His musical genius is the sensuality and sophistication with which Mulatu contrasts these minimalist scales with richly chromatic harmony. But Mulatu’s equally great contribution has been to share both his enduringly unique modernity and Ethiopia’s timelessly spiritual music with the world. Black Jesus Experience treasure the special relationship of generosity, mentorship and collaboration they have been privileged to share with this master musician. To Know Without Knowing is the product of this gift.

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Mamman Sani “Unreleased Tapes 1981-1984” (Sahel Sounds)

2020-05-21T20:49:57+00:00May 21st, 2020|

Sahel Sounds is proud to announce that legendary Nigerien avant-garde organist Mamman Sani’s Unreleased Tapes 1981 – 1984 is back in print on LP. One of the most sought-after releases in the Sahel Sounds catalog, Unreleased Tapes 1981 – 1984 gives listeners a fuller picture of Mamman Sani’s unique sound.

Experimentation in early electronic music in the Sahara from the singular Mamman Sani. Dreamy organs and droning melodies reinterpret ancient folk tradition into sublime fantastical soundscape. Never before released recordings from the very beginning – unreleased tracks from his first album, recordings of a short lived trio, and a cover of an American folk ballad.

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Hailu Mergia “Yene Mircha” (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

2020-04-30T22:45:26+00:00April 30th, 2020|

“From a young musician in the 60’s starting out in Addis Ababa to the 70’s golden age of dance bands to the new hope as an emigre in America to the drier period of the 90s and 2000s when he mainly played keyboard in his taxi while waiting in the airport queue or at home with friends. More recently, with reissue of his classic works and a re-assessment of his role in Ethiopian music history, Mergia has played to audiences big and small in some of the most cherished venues around the world. With 2018’s critical breakthrough “Lala Belu” Mergia championed himself and consolidated his legacy, producing the album on his own and connecting with listeners through the sheer creative power of his version of modern Ethiopian music. His subsequent performances revealed an artist who is in no way stuck in the nostalgia for the “golden age” sound. The press agreed, including the New York Times, BBC and Pitchfork, calling his music “triumphantly in the present” in its Best 200 Albums of the 2010’s list. Mergia’s new album “Yene Mircha” (“My Choice” in Amharic) encapsulates many of the things that make the keyboardist, accordionist and composer-arranger remarkable—elements that have persisted to maintain his vitality all these years, through the ebb and flow of his career.

The rock solid trio with whom he has toured the world most recently, DC-based Alemseged Kebede (bass) and Ken Joseph (drums), forms the nucleus around which an expanded band makes a potent response to the contemporary jazz future “Lala Belu” promised. “Yene Mircha” calcifies Mergia’s prolific stream of creativity and his philosophy that there is a multitude of Ethiopian musical approaches, not just one sound. Enlisting the help of master mesenqo (traditional stringed instrument) player Setegn Atenaw, celebrated vocalist Tsehay Kassa and legendary saxophone player Moges Habte from his 70’s outfit Walias Band, Mergia enhances his bright, electric band on this recording with an expanded line up on some songs. Mergia produced the album which features several of his original compositions along with songs by Asnakesh Worku and Teddy Afro.

An artist still reinventing his sound every night on stage during his marathon live sets, this 74 year-old icon refuses to make the same album twice. The album feels as urgent and risky as his concerts can be, pushing the band to the outer limits of group improvisation and back with chord extensions during his exploratory solos. “Yene Mircha” captures this live experience and fosters an expansive view of what else could be in store for this tireless practitioner of Ethiopian music. “

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Various Artists “Rock Sound Vol 1” (Strawberry Rain)

2020-04-30T22:45:19+00:00April 30th, 2020|

The most difficult project we’ve done to date, this compilation features some of the most obscure Zamrock bands to ever record. None of these bands went on to release albums, some have remained in obscurity even within collectors circles in Zambia. There were only released on 7″ singles like the snotty, proto-punk ‘Watchout’, a number from the post-Amanaz Drive Unit, a group consisting of Amanaz members and legendary bassist Ricky Banda. Blistering fuzz guitars like the 3 1/2 minute solo on Hulk Raiders ‘Mans World’ that can go toe to toe with any guitar solo released during the period. ‘Shoot’ from Mother Breed, a band who went on to record a series of singles which we will be releasing as a full length album in the future, and others like; Mabanga Band, The Ghost Band, Heroes Band, Osauka Band and The Real Savages. The first in a series of compilations featuring obscure Zambian groups that will cover Rock, Disco, Folk and Afrobeat. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.

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Hector Sithole & On Paper “Love, Love” (Strawberry Rain)

2020-04-30T22:45:19+00:00April 30th, 2020|

Hector Sithole recorded a series of singles during the peak of the Zamrock era with the band On Paper. These singles did fairly well locally but over the years have been overlooked and missed by fans and collectors. Featuring rock, afrobeat and soul elements fused with proto-disco sounds that would create a bridge into Zambia’s short-lived disco scene. Hector’s music will appeal to fans of HARRY MWALE and OSAYE. Taken from the original master reels and pressed at 45 rpm for the best possible sound, we’ve limited this release to 300 copies housed in paste-on covers. Highly Recommended and released for the first time ever as a full length.

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Aragon “Aragon” (HMV Record Shop)

2020-04-30T22:45:16+00:00April 30th, 2020|

Aragon’s 85-year-old work formed by top studio musicians such as Tsuyoshi Ima and Tatsuo Hayashi recurs from the “JAPANISM” series! The ethno and ambient style, which is also familiar to Mariah’s “Utakata no Hida”, has been highly evaluated overseas, and has become one that is out of reach from analog fans due to the rarity in the used record market. The dreamy and decadent soundmaking carefully crafted by brilliant musicians in the FUSION / POPS scene over the course of one year and ten months fits in today’s era, unlike anything that was made 30 years ago.

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Segun Bucknor’s Revolution “Son Of January 15” (Jet)

2020-04-30T22:45:15+00:00April 30th, 2020|

Segun Bucknor was one of the most important figures in the Nigerian music scene of the 70s, despite having only a brief career with his afrobeat unit which in 1972 released this superb album of which originals usually not turn up at any price. A reissue like this on JET RECORDS therefore is long overdue to enable every woman and man with a fondness for African popular music of the 70s to take a closer listen to this gem and fall in love immediately. What do we get to listen here?

Well, the album consists of four lengthy tracks with long instrumental sections that generate a swallowing atmosphere of sheer simmering heat and awakes the primal desire to dance within each and every listener. The first tune „Sorrow sorrow sorrow“ showcases the talents of the band’s brass players with a very prominent lead trumpet and saxophones duelling with each other. In jumps the organ as lead instrument for another long part and despite grooving on repetitive rhythm figures created by bass guitar, drums and percussions with brass instruments and organ adding more intensity to it the solo eruptions and duels in combination with Segun Bucknor’s commanding soulful vocal delivery really brand their progressions, lines and hooks into the listener’s mind.

„Gbomojo“ then combines the dark side of the early 60s post bop jazz with a relaxed, yet fidgety beat that draws influences from both, funk and rocksteady. The brass section creates haunting melodies with a goosebump factor. Then the organ freaks out and embarks on a leading part for a moment. More electric jazz comes to the surface as an important influence for Segun Bucknor, who stated Ray Charles as one of his heroes. Well, one of quite some more as it seems. The ongoing groove of the tune and especially the ticking of a special percussion instrument which is very prominent in the arrangement make this a rather hypnotizing affair. This tune is an all out instrumental but trumpet and saxophone take over the lead vocal duties here. Is this what John Coltrane might have emerged into if he was still alive in 1972? Back to his roots but with more of a groovy approach? Who knows? Segun Bucknor did it.
The title track that centers around the assassination of the popular Nigerian prime minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on January 15th 1966 is again a prime example of haunting afro beat that quite obviously differs from the American funk music of the day. The tune is based on a dense polyrhythmical groove network which builds the fruitful soil for the leading brass section to grow a forest of captivating melodies with more of these commanding vocals thrown in, telling about the political situation in Nigeria around those days and how the people overcame the dark period of time.

Too much darkness and tragedy might spoil the fun in some way so the closing track with nearly eleven minutes of length titled „La – La – La“ comes as a more enlightened groover with happier lyrics and hot blooded rhythmical base upon which fascinating melodies lead a good life. Again the brass instruments get their solo parts but this is more of a dance track. Again the arrangements are a dense plait of instrumental lines, harmonies, vocals and rhythm figures. It is an utter joy to try to follow each instrument individually in this dense sound.

All in all this album really gets you in case you have an affinity for jazz, for funky grooves, for long tracks and for a simmering atmosphere. A classic that still got lost in time to be rediscovered by a new generation of music lovers nearly 50 years after the initial release. Haunting!

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Thony Shorby Nyenwi “Sweet Funk Music” (Jet)

2020-04-30T22:45:15+00:00April 30th, 2020|

Who said that all Nigerian afrobeat from the 70s was dark and though provoking with a melancholic edge despite the ongoing powerful grooves and a more or less political message denouncing the the methods of the country’s leaders to increase their own wealth and power while the simple people suffer. Well, this 1978 album by bandleader Thony Shorby Nyenwi proves this idea wrong. What we have here is a sacredly rare gem, fetching 300 € for a copy in playable condition. A crown jewel of Nigerian afrobeat and funk music that is an utter joy listening to.

Thony Nyenwi’s music is a monument of the genre carved in rock. His vocal melodies are more at the lighter and happier side of life, somehow hypnotizing with reduced note progressions on repetitive rhythm figures that rush through your whole body to make you groove along. A fine funky wah wah guitar sound and a mind blowing keyboard sound including electric piano, farfisa organ and others hook up to add colour to the stoic rhythms. The atmosphere literally cooks. This is certainly more modern with a slightly more polished feel than the political music of Fela Kuti or Segun Bucknor, but still bears an unparalleled intensity that makes this album a dance floor sweeper at each club. Coloured lights are flashing into the white haze from the fogging machines when people in glittering bell bottom trousers and twinkling shirts happily get into the groove. 70s galore. Well, the folks can also shift down a gear and rock out a sweet reggae tune that later on turns into a smooth funk, to add more variety to this black wax jewel.

No matter what Thony and his mates do here, they do it with passion and divine talent.
The arrangements are a dense network of sounds, beats, melodies, voices and it goes on and on throughout the whole record. You as a fan of 1970s black music, funk, reggae, soul, all mixed up in a typical Nigerian way, will be enchanted and become swallowed by the holy cloud emerging from the speakers. A beautiful discovery after such a long time that will bring more joy to a new generation of black music aficionadoes.

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Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo “Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo” (Antarctica Starts Here)

2020-03-20T19:43:59+00:00March 19th, 2020|

“Over the years, they would come to say that the Africans just appeared one day in Jamaica. That two Congo men somehow materialized on the streets of Kingston sometime in 1977, almost as if by magic, speaking not a word of English or patwa. The duo, they say, were musicians brought in by a Jamaican promoter—a woman who ditched them, leaving them to fend for themselves, stranded in a strange land. “What really happened is harder to fully divine. The two young Africans—Molenga Mosukola (aka Seke) and Kawongolo Kimwanga (aka Kalo)—were musicians from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then known as the Republic of Zaire, and had indeed been brought to Jamaica by a woman. But she was not a Jamaican promoter; she was a Frenchwoman named Nadette Duget, an executive at CBS France. “Seke and Kalo were both vocalists and guitarists who also played percussion; one of them also handled the saxophone. Initially, Duget had intended for the recording to take place at Byron Lee’s Dynamic Sounds studio. Somehow, though, the project instead ended up at Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark. “When Seke Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo arrived at the Black Ark, Perry was wrapping up the sessions for the Heart of the Congos. He was immediately enamored with the two Congolese visitors and did regard their presence as a fortuitous sign. As he later said in 1992, ‘I know they were sent from Africa, because Africa wanted to make that heart connection in the Ark Studio. So African have to appear in the Ark Of The Covenant to manifest the African drum.’ “Perry eventually completed the work with Seke and Kalo: a deeply rootsy and rugged album under the working title Monama (which in Lingala means ‘Rainbo’). He submitted it to Island, but as they had done with Heart of the Congos, they passed on releasing it. “While it has remained relatively obscure, even as Perry’s Black Ark oeuvre has been rehabilitated and lionized over the past two decades, the album has nevertheless been quietly influential. Its groundbreaking amalgamation of African music and dub anticipated similar experiments by producers like Adrian Sherwood, Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble who would ride to critical acclaim in the ’80s and ’90s.” – Uchenna Ikonne (excerpt from the liner notes)

Tony Allen nd Hugh Masekela “Rejoice” (World Circuit)

2020-03-20T19:52:16+00:00March 19th, 2020|

Rejoice is a very special collaboration between Tony Allen, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Afrobeat, and Hugh Masekela, the master trumpet player of South African jazz. Having first met in the 70s thanks to their respective close associations with Fela Kuti, the two world-renowned musicians talked for decades about making an album together. When, in 2010, their touring schedules coincided in the UK, the moment presented itself and producer Nick Gold took the opportunity to record their encounter. The unfinished sessions, consisting of all original compositions by the pair, lay in archive until after Masekela passed away in 2018. With renewed resolution, Tony Allen and Nick Gold, with the blessing and participation of Hugh Masekela’s estate, unearthed the original tapes and finished recording the album in summer 2019 at the same London studio where the original sessions had taken place.

Rejoice can be seen as the long overdue confluence of two mighty African musical rivers – a union of two free-flowing souls for whom borders, whether physical or stylistic, are things to pass through or ignore completely. According to Allen, the album deals in “a kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew”, with its roots firmly in Afrobeat. Allen and Masekela are accompanied on the record by a new generation of well-respected jazz musicians including Tom Herbert (Acoustic Ladyland / The Invisible), Joe Armon-Jones (Ezra Collective), Mutale Chashi (Kokoroko) and Steve Williamson.

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We No Be Machine

2020-03-19T20:31:50+00:00March 12th, 2020|

In Stock March 17, 2020

Afro futurist sensations Onipa unleash their debut album, combining afro grooves, electronics and fierce energy for an effervescent celebration of cultural and musical encounters
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ONIPA means ‘human’ in Akan, the ancient language of the Ashanti people of Ghana. It’s a message of connection through collaboration: from Ghana to London, our ancestors to our children, Onipa brings energy, groove, electronics, afrofuturism, dance and fire!
Born out of deep collaboration between long-time friends KOG (Kweku of Ghana of KOG and the Zongo Brigade) and Tom Excell (MD, guitarist and writer of acclaimed jazz/ soul afrobeat pioneers Nubiyan Twist), the 4 piece live show features KOG on vocals, balafon and percussion, Tom Excell on guitar, percussion and electronics, Dwayne Kilvington (Wonky Logic) on synths and MPC and Finn Booth (Nubiyan Twist) on drums.

“As we chase the morphic resonance of African art, sound and movement into new worlds, we find stories of the past answering riddles of the future. Tales of existence and resistance, of our innate ability to positively connect, express, share and create. Tales of extending our natural abilities beyond our own survival, to the survival of the planet, reminding us that our ancient connection with the earth must not be traded for technology and materials.

Through the musical prisms of London and Ghana our influences join together to create a new sound, ‘Savanna Bass’. A fundamental thread of traditional African rhythms, instrumentation and storytelling, interwoven with electronics, urban soundscapes and synth bass. We use technology, but it should never use us, our music is live and about deep human connection.”

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Super Mana Djombo “Na Cambança” (Rush Hour)

2020-03-13T20:33:45+00:00March 5th, 2020|

Mar & Sol presents the reissue of “Na Cambança” the first album of the big band from Guiné Bissau SUPER MAMA DJOMBO.

The band was formed in the mid-1960s, at a Boy Scout camp, when the members were only children (the youngest was six years old)!

Djombo is the name of a spirit that many fighters appealed to for protection during Guinea-Bissau’s War of Independence.

In 1974, the politically conscious band leader Adriano Atchutchi joined. The group became immensely popular in the young country, which had gained its independence on the same year. They would often play at President Luís Cabral’s public speeches, and their concerts were broadcast live on radio.

In 1980, they went to Lisbon and recorded six hours of material. The first album “Na Cambança” was released in this same year, and the song “Pamparida” which was based on a children’s song became a huge hit throughout West Africa, and an important historical masterpiece that finally see the lights again by the hands of our label.

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Orchestra Baobab “Mouhamadou Bamba” (Syllart)

2020-03-13T20:33:45+00:00March 5th, 2020|

Released in 1981, the legendary album “Mouhamadou Bamba” is the masterpiece of the Orchestra Baobab, which has dedicated more than ten years of existence. Under the direction of the percussionist saxophonist Issa Sissokho, of the irremovable guitarist Barthélémy Attiso the band records this album at the Golden Baobab studio in Dakar directed and produced by the young producer Ibrahima Sylla.

The Baobab symbolizes both the rooting in Senegalese traditional values and the ability of the tree to reach heights, the sound of the group is a perfect syncretism of Senegalese and Afro-Cuban imaginaries in which the montunos of electric guitars and vocal improvisations in wolof language marry subtly to the rhythms of cuban son and other boleros.

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Ogyatanaa Show Band “African Fire Yerefrefre” (Survival Research)

2020-03-13T20:34:14+00:00February 20th, 2020|

Survival Research present a reissue of Ogyatanaa Show Band’s African Fire Yerefrefre, originally released in 1975. The Ogyatanaa, or Burning Fire Show Band, was one of the more esteemed of the funky highlife groups that rocked the Ghanaian music scene during the 1970s. The band was formed in 1971 by diplomat-turned-composer, musical arranger, organist, vocalist, and record producer Kwadwo Donkoh (a former member of the Uhuru Dance Band), with guitarist and bandleader Nana Ofori-Atta (AKA Ahomansia Wura) and other members that later left the group. The Ogyatanaa Show Band made a rapid impact, scoring second place in the National Dance Band’s competition after being together for less than a year, thanks to their superlative arrangement of the oft-versioned highlife classic, “Yaa Amponsah”, a tale of a mythical woman which became a popular single when issued on Donkoh’s Agoro record label. After issuing a number of other popular singles, the band’s debut album African Fire Yerefrefre was finally released in 1975, the line-up now composed of Donkoh and Nana Ofori with drummer and assistant bandleader Ocloo Jackson, bassist Kobina Gardiner, keyboardist Ofori Frimpong, and vocalists/percussionists Kwaku Dua and Pa Oweridu, plus Nakai Nettley on additional percussion. This outstanding LP begins with the unprecedented extended highlife medley of over twenty minutes entitled “Yerefrefre” which revisits highlife gems of the past; for instance, noteworthy material by giants such as E.T. Mensah, C.K. Mann, Nana Ampadu, E.K. Nyame, King Onyina, Jerry Hansen, King Bruce, and Dr. K. Gyasi are all referenced, with E.T’s anthem “All For You” and The Black Beats’ “Lai Momo” getting special attention. “Mmobrowa” (or “The Downtrodden”) was another popular single issued prior to the album’s recording and listening to the slowly unfolding groove of the rendition included here, it’s again easy to understand the song and group’s enduring popularity in its homeland. Similarly, “Yaa Amponsah” and the religious praise song “Agya Nyame” are total highlife killers encompassed in rousing melodies and complex propulsive rhythms.

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The Star Beams “Play Disco Specials” (Mr. Bongo)

2020-03-13T20:34:15+00:00February 20th, 2020|

The Star Beams album is a bit of an enigma. When we first came across their epic dance-floor monster ’Disco Stomp’ it was on a Disco Calypso compilation, so we assumed it originated from the Caribbean. Years later we worked out how wrong we were and that this nugget was actually from South Africa and taken off an ultra scarce album on JAS Pride records from 1976. The next problem was tracking down an original copy and we don’t think we’ve ever seen our Bongo team member Gary Johnson as happy as the day he turned up clutching a copy under his arm.

‘Play Disco Specials’ was produced by Ray Nkwe who also worked with Mankunku Quartet and The Soul Jazzmen, with all writing credits on the album going to Ray, the recording credited to engineer Robin Ritchie and the artwork to Carol Knowles. Other than this, the personnel of the record remains a mystery, but sometimes a bit of mystery is a good thing. Aside from the disco-jazz-funk of ’Disco Stomp’, which has found it’s way into the DJ sets of Theo Parrish, ’Play Disco Specials’ will appeal to fans of The Star Beams South African contemporaries The Drive, Batsumi and Pacific Express.

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Various Artists ” Soul Sega Sa! Vol.2 Indian Ocean Segas From The 70’s” (Bongo Joe)

2020-03-13T20:34:16+00:00February 20th, 2020|

The gradual appropriation by the Creole populations of Western instruments and European melodic traditions (quadrilles, waltzes, polkas, scottish, romances, mazurkas), as well as the cultural contribution of committed workers from India laid the foundations of the modern sega.

This crossroads of influences was to continue to grow, especially from the 1950s, when the Birst phonographs arrived, playing all kinds of varieties but also jazz, soul, rock’n’roll, and even Cuban or Brazilian music.

For the Sega, these were the first steps towards a period of intense creativity that would cover the 1960s and 1970s. Amplified instruments arrived, and electric guitars, basses, drums and keyboards quickly replaced violins and accordions. Record production exploded and saw the advent of many micro-labels featuring genius arrangers such as Marclaine Antoine, Gérard Cimiotti, Eric Nelson, Claude Vinh San, or Narmine Ducap who explored the Sega in its many facets. Psychedelic keyboards, fuzz guitars and undulating basses invited themselves on the furious ternary polyrhythms of drums, ravannes, bongos, claves, triangles and maracas, to produce a unique style.

Here are some pearls from this golden age of the segas of Mauritius, Seychelles and Reunion Island that are compiled in this volume 2 for our greatest pleasure!

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Shina Williams & His African Percussionists “Shina Williams” (Mr. Bongo)

2020-03-13T20:34:16+00:00February 20th, 2020|

First official reissue of hidden-gem album by Lagos-based bandleader Shina Williams.

Shina Williams ‘Agboju Logun’ was a ground-breaking fusion of afrobeat, electronics, boogie and disco. First released on Phonodisk in 1979 as part of the ‘African Dances’ album, then in 1984 as an alternative version on Rough Trade’s Earthwork off-shoot, it has gone on to attain cult-like status.

So it remains a bit of a mystery how so little has been documented about the follow-up. Shina’s self-titled album was originally released on Help Records in 1980. It differs from the upfront afro-disco-funk of ‘African Dances’ as it diverts into deeper, hypnotic, afro-beat territory. Though listed as a six-track album, each side (composing of 3 tracks) is built-upon one continuous groove with call and response female & male vocals and instrumental solos coming and going as each side progresses. The results are raw, hypnotic, locked-in grooves, which sit perfectly on forward-thinking contemporary dancefloors.

Official Mr Bongo reissue. Replica original artwork. LP only. Licensed from the family of Shina Wiliams.

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Frank & His Sisters “Frank & His Sisters” (Mississippi)

2020-03-13T20:34:34+00:00February 20th, 2020|

The world’s first collection of gorgeous pop songs from Frank and His Sisters, a family band from Moshi, Tanzania. Formed in the early 1950s by Frank Humplick, Thecla Clara and Maria Regina, the trio recorded and toured throughout East Africa and issued a string of instant classics, capturing fans with their beautifully harmonized singing, clever lyrics, and Frank’s stunning guitar work. Imagine the fingerstyle finesse of John Fahey with a pure pop melodicism, combined with the family harmony of groups like The Carter Family, The Roches, and The Beach Boys, set in the golden age of Tanzanian music!

Frank composed many of his songs while working the land on his beloved tractor (really), and once instigated a house-to-house search to destroy all copies of his record “Yes/No” due to its politically subversive lyrics. He went on to record and tour with the Jambo Boys band before retiring from the music industry in the early 1960s, to focus on his passion for agriculture. But his favorite songs were always the ones he created with his sisters, and we are proud to present 12 of their best.

Previously only heard on extremely rare 78 rpm discs and Tanzanian oldies radio, this album collects the trio’s finest songs, lovingly restored and remastered. We love this music so much that in late 2018 we traveled to Tanzania to meet Frank’s family and collaborate on this album. The result is a colorful 8-page booklet featuring complete lyrics in English, Swahili and Chaga, as well as previously unpublished photographs, extensive interviews and anecdotes, and a biography by Tanzanian musician and radio host John Kitime. All tracks fully licensed from the Humplick family.

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Marumo “Modiehi” (Mr. Bongo)

2020-03-13T20:34:35+00:00February 20th, 2020|

We were first introduced to Marumo’s ‘Modish’ album via DJ Okapi’s amazing resource the ‘Afrosynth’ blog, which archives South African bubblegum/disco from the 80s & early 90s. Aside from this blog, this music would otherwise remained unknown outside of South Africa, apart from the most hardcore of
digger and record collector.

‘Modish’ was originally released on Spades Record in 1982 and was recorded by producer West Nkosi, who was a member of supergroup ‘Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens’. He worked with the big hitters in South African music such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Teaspoon & The Waves, Patience Africa and many more. Marumo were made up of a group of musicians from the Athlone School for the blind in Bellville, close to Cape Town. The band members, John Mothopeng, Munich Sibiya, Simon Falatsi and Marks Mbuthuma, had previously played in the groups Batsumi, All Rounders and The Orations and came together to record this versatile album. It covers a wide number of genres from Sotho soul, Mbaqanga, disco-funk, gospel & spacey-synth slow jams.

Flash forward 30 or so years later and lost dead-stock copies of the album start to appear and Marumo’s music begins to be heard across the world in the DJ sets of Motor City Drum Ensemble, Invisible City Editions, Floating Points, DJ Okapi and others.

We included the afro-disco-funk beauty of ’Khomo Tsaka Deile Kae?’ on our Mr Bongo Record Club Volume Three compilation, but felt ‘Modish’ needed to be available and heard in it’s entirety. We hope you enjoy!

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Ofege “How Do You Feel” (Tidal Waves Music)

2020-03-13T20:34:36+00:00February 20th, 2020|

Ofege was formed in the early 1970s by a bunch of teenagers at the St. Gregory’s College in Lagos Nigeria. They were largely influenced by the guitar solos of Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page while closer to home, they were influenced by the music of ‘BLO’, ‘Monomono’ (led by Joni Haastrup), ‘The Funkees’, and ‘Ofo The Black Company’.

Due to their vibrant combo of sweet harmonies, hooks & fuzz, Ofege would become one of the most legendary Nigerian groups of all time, with expressive sales and national stardom. At the turn of the century (and because of tracks appearing on various psychedelic music compilations) Ofege would receive international acknowledgment for being the first of their kind and the ultimate West-African psychedelic funk band!

Their first album (Try and Love – 1973) was recorded while the band members were still in high school (average age of 16). It took some years before other albums saw the light since some band members still had to finish school. Further astonishing recordings include ‘The Last of The Origins’ (1976), ‘Higher Plane Breeze’ (1977) and ‘How Do You Feel’ (1978).

How Do You Feel (released in 1978 on Polydor Nigeria) is Ofege’s fourth (and final) album. On this amazing record, the listener is treated to the trademark Ofege sound, but you can also hear the band absorbing some of the other things that were happening at the time (like disco & reggae). By 1978, North American bands like Funkadelic and the Ohio Players that had formerly purveyed raggedly funky rock were shifting their output exclusively towards slicker, more dancefloor-oriented material. These shifts also applied to bands on the European and African continent…and Ofege was no exception. The difference in sound from their earlier recordings sounds organic and can be attributed to the band’s burgeoning maturity & said changes in their musical environment.

Next to the regular band-members, this album has some serious ‘all-star’ guest musicians featured on it as well…Kofi Ayivor (Eddy Grant) on congas, Robert Bailey (Osibisa) on keyboards …and of course the legendary Jake Sollo (The Funkees) who’s trademark solo-guitar work is all over this Ofege record.

How Do You Feel is a an Afrobeat club-classic with some serious funky & spacey disco (of the good kind) mixed through its tracks…a faithful snapshot of what was actually happening in the African soul music scene at that specific period in time. This album shows a perfect glimpse of the late 70’s afrobeat works combining soul, jazzy rhythms & fluid danceability…but when you listen to songs like ‘World Peace’ and ‘Frustration,’ that’s just the basic, rootsy and raw Ofege sound.

Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents the first reissue of this landmark Nigerian album. This RARE classic (original copies tend to go for large amounts on the secondary market) is now finally back available as a limited vinyl edition (500 copies) complete with the original artwork and exclusive liner notes/pictures provided by Ofege’s founding member ‘Melvin Ukachi’ who also supervised this reissue.

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Alhaji And His Fuji ’78 Organisation “Blessing” (Soul Jazz)

2020-03-13T20:34:36+00:00February 20th, 2020|

Mesmerising, synth-heavy Nigerian Fuji music from ’88, reissued for the first time by Soul Jazz

“This is the first in Soul Jazz Records’ new series of vinyl-only Afro funk / Afro beat exact-replica, super- rare albums that were previously only ever released in Nigeria. The series starts with Kollington Ayinla’s celebrated 1978 album Blessing, a rare lost classic of Nigerian Fuji music, featuring Ayinla’s sharp political lyrics together with his new band Fuji ’78. Blessing blends the heavily percussive style of Fuji music with a stunning array of modern instruments, including synthesizers, Bata drums and guitars, to create one of the most forward-thinking and heavily danceable sounds ever to come out of Nigeria – a highly successful mixture of profound Fuji rhythms and Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat.

Kollington Ayinla ranks alongside his friend and competitor Ayinde Barrister as the two most important artists to dominate Fuji music from its inception in the 1970s through to the 1990s by which time it had grown to become one of the most popular dance genres in Nigeria. At the start of the 1980s Ayinla started his own record company, Kollington Records, to release his music and remains to this day an extremely prolific artist, having recorded over 50 albums, most of which have never been released outside of Nigeria.”

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Tabansi Studio Band “Wakar Alhazai kano/Mus’en” (BBE)

2020-03-13T20:34:38+00:00February 20th, 2020|

Tabansi Studio Band – Wakar Alhazai Kano & Mus’En Sofua: four incredible slices of almost- undiscovered late-70s/early 80s Afrobeat magic, but not Fela’s Yoruba/Pidgin Afrobeat.

This is Igbo and Hausa Afrobeat- two very different and rarely heard styles. For the first time anywhere, BBE is proud to reissue back to back two LPs that are so elusive that many Afro heads doubted their very existence until now.

The beats are laid down by the seven legendary Martins Brothers – of ‘Money’ fame- whilst vocals are courtesy of a multi-lingual Igbo legend, Prof. Goddy Ezike, one of the most extraordinary voices out of Africa, up there with Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita, whose half- century career has, like fine wine, simply improved his voice.

Wakar Alhazai Kano and Lokoci Azumi Ta Wuca (tracks 1 and 2) draw on Northern Hausa music, with its Islamic inflections and skipping 12/8 time signatures more typical of the string and wind-based instrumentation of Kano and the broader sub-Saharan musical palette.

Kama Sofos and Aka Ji Ego Ga Anu Nwam (tracks 3 and 4) are sung in Igbo, with all the percussive wonders that Igbo culture has to offer, filtered through a jazzy Afrobeat improvisational spectrum.
Never before. Never again. New Afrobeats, in old bottles.

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Eric (Showboy) Akaeze And His Royal Ericos “Ikoto Rock” (Everland)

2020-03-19T20:09:53+00:00January 31st, 2020|

There we go with another Afro Beat classic that did not really leave Nigeria back in the day it was released. Therefore we can only guess the value among collectors but some reliable sources tell us that even not so mint original copies go for up to 600 $. The AFRODISIA sublabel of DECCA music is responsible for quite a few awesome afro beat gems that have only recently been rediscovered by never sleeping music lovers such as the folks behind EVERLAND MUSIC from the Netherlands and here we go with the first ever official reissue of Eric Showboy Akaeze’s second album with HIS ROYAL ERICOS. Eric Showboy Akaeze was former bigband leader who was hip on the Nigerian scene, which mostly happened around the main city of Lagos in the 60s and especially 70s after the military junta took over the reign and was keen to bring in more indegenious elements to the peoples allday lives and a new style of music emerged, AFRO BEAT, mixing Western rock and funk, rocksteady and soul with rhythms and melodies that clearly had an African heritage. He was nicknamed IKOTO, which is the Nigerian word for a spinner, the child’s toy, due to his dancing style where he was spinning around like mad during shows. He was an extraordinary dancer and showman and what mostly interests us, he was a wonderful bandleader and musician. When Fela Kuti became the rising star on the scene and soon the musician most hated by the regime, Akaeze soon fell into Kuti’s shadow but he maintained his musical activities until his untimely death in 2002 and with this, his second masterepiece „Ikoto rock“, referring to his nickname and his own style Akaeze created from this, his legacy was carved in rock.

What kind of music shall we now expect from this 1974 release? The original holds 4 lengthy, groovy compositions with a jammy, nearly improvised feeling in some parts, for the reissue EVERLAND MUSIC dragged out the utterly scarce 7inch „Akalaka“ from 1975 (even beat up copies go for 700 $) and added both tracks to the A and B side of the album respectively. It fits well with the haunting, nearly hypnotizing style of „Ikoto rock“. There is always a repetitive beat, a dense network of grooves in the background of each song which build the foundation for the commanding vocals shouted out with passion for life and the harmonic arrangements of guitar, farfisa organ and brass section melodies. These songs are too furious and powerful for plain reggae and rocksteady. Listen to the simmering leads performed by Akaeze on a tenor saxophone. This is nearly eruptive. He loves to give his audience a break sometimes, adding passages with the feeling of a religious or military chant to enchant his listeners entirely. All this creates a steaming atmosphere and puts you, who gets this record spinning on his turntable, into a trance like state during the duration of the album. Most songs here were sung in Akaeze’s native tongue or at least some English based lingo that includes many African words. You can easily feel how good the musicians are, due to the clear production that was a standard for DECCA / AFRODISIA releases back then. Still this album has a raw and honest feeling making it a simmering and intense musical affair. The two bonus tracks might be the most accessible and memorable here since they were conceived for a 7“ release but still come as lengthy as they could. You will not find your 3 minute pop tunes here and the power of the performance is amazing.

A wonderful item to rediscover, music that deserves to be alive and set the hearts and souls of a new generation on fire.

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Antibalas “Fu Chronicles” (Daptone)

2020-03-19T20:09:55+00:00January 31st, 2020|

With a globetrotting 20-year career renowned for being a voice for the people across four decades of political and societal upheaval from the late ‘90s to today, Antibalas celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a stark return to their Williamsburg roots on its latest Daptone Records studio album, Fu Chronicles. Pre-gentrified Williamsburg serves as the backdrop for Fu Chronicles–voyaging back to the early days of when Antibalas and Daptone Records spawned out of lead singer Duke Amayo’s kung fu dojo. A senior master of the Jow Ga Kung FuSchool of martial arts, Duke Amayo along with Antibalas founder/baritone saxophonist Martín Perna guide listeners through an epic journey of where kung fu ingeniously intersects with Afrobeat on Fu Chronicles.
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Various Artists”Léve Léve : Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds 70s-80s Vol.1″ (Bongo Joe)

2020-01-31T04:30:09+00:00January 31st, 2020|

The two Portuguese-speaking African islands of Sao Tomé & Principe, located in the Gulf of Guinea, created an unique music called Puxa : a refined mixture of various musical components from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A blend of Semba, Merengue, Kompas, Soukouss, Coladeira patterns, often pushing forward with a voodoo-like energy, solid bass lines, delicate melodies and backing harmonies of the rich Sao Tomean melodic traditions. Very first compilation focusing on the golden age of these island’s sounds, the 16 tracks selected will surely set fire on all dance floors !

Léve-Léve is the first ever compilation devoted to music from São Tome and Principe, two small islands situated off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The album unravels a story of liberation where the music of Africa, Europe and the Americas unify with a carefree spirit personified by a phrase the islanders use all the time: “léve, léve” (“take it easy”). With echoes of Angolan semba and merengue, of Brazilian afoxê, of coladeira from Cape Verde and dance music from the Caribbean, it is a sound fiercely proud of its island heritage, sung in local dialects and using distinctive local rhythms.

On this record you can hear the cultural and social history of São Tome and Principe, and how live music represented its beating heart. Once known as the “Chocolate Islands” (remarkably, these two tiny islands were the largest cocoa producers in the world, though now this title acts as a reminder of its colonial past), through the years leading up to independence from Portugal, music would be a fundamental voice of liberation and conviviality. Os Úntués were one of the first groups to make an impression, releasing a couple of 7 inches in Angola – the litmus test of success for any of the islands’ groups. They united unique rhythms and dances like socopé, puita and dança-congo – borne from the islands’ largely slave-descendant population – with the sound of pop music beamed in on the radio from Europe, even adding in a little bit of soukous and Brazilian instrumentation. Their main rivals were Conjunto Mindelo, who fused São Toméan rhythms with rebita, an Angolan style, to create high energy puxa, a truly original island rhythm.

From the mid-1970s, coinciding with independence from Portugal in 1975, the islands’ groups featured an even stronger African influence and nowhere was that more apparent than with Africa Negra. They would listen to the latest records from Gabon, Zaire and Cameroon, taking inspiration and trying out phrasing from the greats of Central African guitar playing, developing a devoted fan base off the islands, as well as on. A score of other bands would follow a similar musical path, with a few getting their dues overseas in Angola, Cape Verde, Portugal and across Africa.

Os Leonenses (led by the iconic Pedro Lima), Conjunto Sangazuza, Sum Alvarinho and Conjunto Ecuador were just some of the other bands that formed a lively home-grown music scene that lit up the islands’ bars and open-air shows from the 1950s through to the mid-90s. Regardless of class or age, they were responsible for keeping the population entertained come the weekend, with Sunday matinee shows the highlight of the week, the music not stopping from midday until midnight.

As a Portuguese island colony that was for many years populated with slaves brought from Africa, São Tome and Principe has much in common with other Lusophone countries and boasts a richly complex and idiosyncratic musical DNA. Whilst the musical tapestries of Angola and Cape Verde are well known, São Tome and Principe’s secrets were assigned to the islanders themselves. Until now.

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Don Laka “I Wanna Be Myself” (Cultures Of Soul)

2020-01-23T21:28:09+00:00January 23rd, 2020|

“A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Don Laka began his career in the ’70s and then joined the seminal jazz outfit Sakhile in the early ’80s. Already an established musician by this time, Laka was at the forefront of exploring the latest synth sounds of the day. Being introduced to synthesizers by Harari’s Alec Khaoli, Don soon began experimenting with different synths like the Oberheim, Juno, and Prophet 5 while using a Commodore 64 to sequence them. Constantly striving for the latest sounds, Laka’s early explorations culminated in his debut solo album, I Wanna Be Myself. I went and did an album, recorded tracks at Downtown Studios [in downtown Johannesburg]. Most of the album, except for ‘Let’s Move the Night,’ was done straight with a Fairlight at a different studio, of the guy that owned the Fairlight, Adrian Strydom. He was the only guy in the country who had a Fairlight, I think on the continent. ‘This was the first commercial record made on a Fairlight in this country. I remember the other instrument I used was Jupiter 8, which was a very expensive Roland synth, and I used a Juno-60. I would layer them. The only thing I programmed was the drums. You can hear the snare sound, I think it was a mix of some cracked bottles and something that we just mixed.’ Holed up in the studio, Laka remembers getting special input on I Wanna Be Myself from master bassist Bakithi Khumalo, who would also feature prominently on Graceland. ‘I remember I played all the instruments on it. I played bass, I played all. Bakithi walked into the studio and I said, ‘You know, I’m not a bass player. Baks, do you wanna do it?’ And he nailed it, in one take!’ Reissued for the first time is Don Laka’s masterful album.”

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Fela Kuti “J.J.D.” (Knitting Factory)

2020-01-09T21:49:58+00:00January 9th, 2020|

Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Fela Kuti’s ‘J.J.D. Johnny Just Drop’ on vinyl. Previously only available as part of the Box Set series, the reissue features original album artwork designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, who created the cover art for around half of Fela’s albums. Originally released in 1977, ‘J.J.D. Johnny Just Drop’ features Fela lampooning Nigeria’s “been-tos,” people who had been to Europe or America to work or study, and then returned (dropped) home with European social pretensions and an inferiority complex about African culture.

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Manu Dibango “Waka Juju” (Soul Makossa)

2020-01-09T21:49:57+00:00January 9th, 2020|

Released in 1982, the album “Waka Juju” marks a return to Afrosound. We hear titles like “Douala Serenade” or “Ma Marie”, a tribute to his wife.

“Waka juju” is an ode to juju, the traditional Yoruba music that has become Nigeria’s most popular style.

Emmanuel N’Djoké Dibango (born 12 December 1933) is a Cameroonian musician and song-writer who plays saxophone and vibraphone. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music. He is best known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa”.

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Gideon Nxumalo “Jazz Fantasia” (Mad About)

2019-12-20T22:50:32+00:00December 20th, 2019|

Gideon Nxumalo’s Jazz Fantasia is probably the rarest release in South African jazz. Along with Chris McGregor, Nxumalo helped pioneer the pre-exile South African jazz sound. Jazz Fantasia — originally released in 1962 — is widely regarded as a seminal South African jazz record. The record features legendary jazz altoist Kippie Moeketsi and a very young Dudu Pukwana. Pukwana plays sax in a similar style to Albert Ayler; Moeketsi was a colossal South African jazz figure during this time. Jazz Fantasia signaled Moeketsi’s last commercial success before his struggles with alcohol and depression took their toll. The album was recorded at the Great Hall at Wits University in September 1962. It was commissioned by the university as part of an arts festival. With a limited pressing at the time, the album has become a revered foundation of modern South African jazz music, even though it is a rare album to find. Edition of 500.

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Susso “Keira” (Soundway)

2019-12-20T22:50:30+00:00December 20th, 2019|

2019 repress. On Keira, Susso, aka bassist/producer Huw Bennett, creates music inspired by, and directly sampling, the magnificent sounds of the Mandinka people, recorded during a recent trip to Gambia. Initially travelling with the aim of gaining perspective as a musician and to discover a new world of music first hand, Huw found himself humbled by such a welcoming community of artists, mostly belonging to the celebrated Suso and Kuyateh griot families. The tracks are composed entirely from original source material, field recordings, and Huw’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist; performing tuned percussion from the region including the Mandinka balafon, kutiringding drum, as well as drawing on his skill as a professional upright/electric bassist. The music produced has a contemporary electronic sound, whilst still paying homage to a traditional Gambian aesthetic. Keira (meaning “peace”) guides the listener through Huw’s journey up the River Gambia, being welcomed into remote dusty villages, where your people are the most important thing in life.

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Malaku Daku “Love Drums From The Ghetto” (Tidal Waves Music)

2019-12-20T22:50:28+00:00December 20th, 2019|

Malaku ‘Daku’ Thompson (born Philadelphia 1943, died 2004) was an amazing artist who was deeply involved in percussion and Africanism. Malaku was mostly active in the 70s, producing-recording music and performing percussion at African themed rallies. During the Pan African struggles of the 1970’s Malaku changed his last name from Thompson to ‘Daku’. Malaku Daku (who was deeply involved in his community) went on to become a teacher and writer of several children’s books.

During the mid 70s Malaku recorded and produced the album Love Drums From The Ghetto, an album that truly showed off his skills as an artistic genius. With this album Malaku Daku delivered an important contribution to the never-ending rich heritage that is African American music. When you listen to (and feel) these exploding pulsations and rhythmic-melodic drumbeats you have to realize that just one man is playing both the top and bottom drumbeats on no less than 8 congas at the same time!

Traditionally, the drum was the heartbeat, the soul of most African communities. Drums have been an intrinsic part of African life for centuries and for countless generations, an ancient instrument used to celebrate all the aspects of life. In Western culture drumming is, most often, about entertainment but in Africa, drums hold a deeper, symbolic and historical significance. They herald political and social events attending ceremonies of birth, death and marriage. They spark courtships, they herald home-coming and going and they accompany religious rites and rituals, calling up ancestral spirits. They can also inspire passion and excitement and even cause trances, a momentary loss of consciousness to either the drummer or the listener. On the other side, drums are about communication and making music, two essential characteristics of community life. For centuries the ‘talking drums’ were a primary source of communication between tribes used to transmit messages sometimes across great distances.

Recorded at the legendary Future Gold studio in Philadelphia and originally released in 1974 as a private pressing, this is such an unknown and underrated album that just begs for a place in your record collection. Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents the first official reissue of Love Drums From The Ghetto. Available as a deluxe 180g vinyl edition (limited to 500 copies). Remastered from the original master tapes (found in a case, hidden in a wall by someone who demolishes houses…the tapes then made their way to a Discogs employee and to us). This release also comes with an insert containing an unseen manifest written by Malaku Daku himself. The clear vinyl variant (limited to 200 copies, exclusively available from Light In The Attic) also includes a bonus EP with alternate takes found on the master tapes.

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Fela Kuti “Coffin for Head of State” (Knitting Factory)

2019-12-20T22:28:04+00:00December 20th, 2019|

After the sacking and burning of Fela’s Kalakuta Republic in 1977, Fela wrote several musical responses attacking the culpable Nigerian government, including this mournful tribute to his mother. During the raid, Fela’s mother Funmilayo was thrown out of a second story window, sustaining multiple, severe injuries. She eventually passed away due to medical complications, and Fela, his wives, and his followers, in a bold act of grief and defiance, carried his mother’s coffin to the front gate of the army barracks, asserting that his dead mother in the coffin should assume the position of president of Nigeria. Musically The song’s slow, steady beat and repetitive structure mimics the march up to the barracks, while the lyrics and tone reflect Fela’s overwhelming sadness over the loss of his mother and the state of his beloved Nigeria. “Coffin For Head of State” is Fela’s somber excoriation of those that, “through Jesus Christ our Lord”, corrupt, steal and rob the African people.

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Eric Kol “Today” (BBE)

2019-12-13T05:59:17+00:00December 13th, 2019|

Part of BBE Music’s ‘Tabansi Gold’ African reissue series, Eric Kol’s rare boogie / disco album Today epitomises Nigeria on the musical move in the early 80s. With the slow but relentless shrinkage of old-school musical talent and withdrawal of international record company financing following the Biafran war as well as changing tastes, both in Yoruba as well as Igbo and other communities, consumers wanted a home-grown version of what they could hear on American and European airwaves. Enter seasoned soulful vocalist Eric Kol, multi-instrumentalist and all-round arranging talent Jake Sollo (ex Funkees, Osibisa, etc.) and Lagos studio pioneer Chief Tabansi, plus crew. Jake Sollo’s synth-boogie magic can be heard to best effect on Rain In My Heart and You’re My Solution (a big local radio hit back then). Meanwhile, the ‘strings’n’things’ disco vibe is resplendent in ‘the opener Let Your love Rule My World, whilst I’ll Sing A Song deepens the tempo with a soulful ballad arrangement. This is the first fully authorised vinyl reissue of a boogie classic that almost never appears for sale, even on eBay, but takes pride of place on every seasoned Nigerian vinyl junkie’s ‘want’ lists.
Rare African music, remastered and reissued as part of BBE’s Tabansi Gold Series. Nigerian disco / boogie by soulful vocalist Eric Kol, with multi-instrumentalist and all-round arranging talent Jake Sollo.

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The Apostles “Black Is Beautiful” (Tidal Waves)

2019-12-13T05:58:13+00:00December 13th, 2019|

The Apostles were a renowned Nigerian funk/soul group from the city of Aba (an epicenter for music during the 70s & 80s) and disciples of the heavy psychedelic soul/rock fusion style…for over forty years, they have stood as the jewel in the crown of the Afrobeat genre in Eastern Nigeria and champions of its flourishing post-war music scene.

Since their formation in 1973, the band has turned out memorable performances in a variety of styles including rock, soul, funk, pop and reggae. The Apostles amassed a large following, enjoyed an immense success throughout Nigeria and went on to release multiple albums. Although most of their songs are sung in English, a few of their songs are also sung in Igbo. The Apostles became superstars on the strength of several hit singles and have been preaching a particular blend of funky psychedelic soul/rock fusion for over 40 years.

The LP we are presenting you here Black Is Beautiful (1977) is one of the most enjoyable albums of the Afrobeat era: proud, assured, relaxed and extremely powerful. Black Is Beautiful contains a heavy mix of wailing guitars, swirling funky organ sounds and James Brown-style vocals. It is one of their best albums (also one that became a fixture in many East Nigerian homes) and an essential Afro-Funk record to add to your collection.

Today we are proud to present to you the first ever vinyl reissue of this rare Nigerian album originally released on EMI Nigeria in 1977. This reissue is now available as a deluxe 180g vinyl edition (limited to 500 copies) featuring the original artwork.

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Fela Kuti “No Agreement” (Knitting Factory)

2019-12-13T05:54:52+00:00December 13th, 2019|

Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Fela Kuti’s ‘No Agreement’ on vinyl, previously only available as part of the Box Set series. ‘No Agreement’ is sometimes overlooked among Fela’s 1977 releases, eclipsed by albums such as ‘J.J.D. Johnny Just Drop’ and ‘Sorrow Tears and Blood’, yet it is among his best albums of the period. It includes an outstanding Afrika 70 instrumental, “Dog Eat Dog.” The track includes a solo by the American trumpeter, Lester Bowie, of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, who was then staying with Fela in Lagos.

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Fela Kuti “Yellow Fever” (Knitting Factory)

2019-12-13T05:54:52+00:00December 13th, 2019|

The title track, “Yellow Fever”, is a scathing criticism of post-colonial Nigerians who cannot shake their “colonial mentality.” Fela rails on women who bleach their skin as an act of beauty, contemptuously adding that, despite what they think, it only makes them less attractive. The second track of the album is the notorious “Na Poi” (loosely translating to “things collide”) which was banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Company for its explicit, socially shocking sexual references. As Fela jams out, the song becomes a veritable “how-to” guide to sex, including allusions to motion and lubrication, among other taboo details.

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Fela Kuti “V.I.P.” (Knitting Factory)

2019-12-13T05:54:52+00:00December 13th, 2019|

Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Fela Kuti’s ‘V.I.P.’ on vinyl, previously only available as part of the Box Set series. ‘V.I.P. Vagabonds In Power’ was recorded live at the Berlin Jazz Festival in autumn 1978 and released the following year. It is a ferocious and lyrically exalted attack on the abuse of state power. The festival straddled the cusp of the break-up of Afrika 70 and the formation of Egypt 80 in spring 1979, and ‘V.I.P. Vagabonds In Power’ was the last album Fela made with the drummer Tony Allen, who had been with him since 1964 and acted as Afrika 70’s bandleader.

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Issam Hajali “Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard” (Habibi Funk)

2019-11-29T03:52:19+00:00November 29th, 2019|

Issam Hajali might be most known for being the singer and main composer of the Lebanese band Ferkat Al Ard. While they recorded 3 albums only their classic „Oghneya“ release saw a vinyl release and is probably the most in demand record in the Lebanese record collector scene (A copy changed hands in Beirut this year for 5000$). Before the band came together Issam recorded a debut album under his own name called “Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard” in 1977 in exile in Paris. It was originally released in a run of less than 100 copies. I do not really remember when exactly I heard the music of Issam Hajali and Ferkat Al Ard for the first time. What I do remember is that I had seen the cover of one of their albums somewhere online and since then it was high up on the list of records I really wanted to hear. The cover of their most widely known second album “Oghneya” which was released on Zida record label shows a man walking in the streets of Beirut. Only later I found out that it’s actually Issam Hajali, the singer of the band, himself on the cover. A couple of months after, I came across a photo of the record somewhere and I finally received a folder of the corresponding MP3s from a friend. I was electrified right away. It was a totally unique blend between traditional Arabic elements, jazz, Brazilian patterns and folk, going hand in hand with poetic yet politically engaged lyrics. I learned that the band was active in the left-wing movement of Lebanon of the time and that they communicated their political ideas through songwriting candidly. To this day I don’t own a vinyl copy of “Oghneya” but ever since I heard the music, I felt the desire to meet the band and to learn more about them. Unfortunately, like many musicians of the 1970s there were not too many traces on the internet and most of my friends in Lebanon did remember their music but had no direct idea how to get in touch with them. In late 2016 I was in Beirut and tried to search for information about the band again and eventually found a recently published interview on a very small blog with Issam Hajali, the band’s singer. The only clue that article gave on the lookout was to mention as a sidenote that Issam would have a shop on Mar Elias Street, Beirut. This sounded to me like a great and precise piece of info, but it became less illuminatingafter I realized that this street is more than one kilometer long and is nothing but small shops. Nevertheless, I went there on a Thursday in early December and started asking people whether they knew where to find Issam Hajali. I ended up having an hour of nice, yet unsuccessful conversations until a tea vendor pointed me to the right place. Meeting Issam was great. He was happy that someone from Germany was very aware of his music and interested to learn more. We spent a long afternoon in his shop where he sells silver jewelry, mostly from his favorite travel destination Nepal. Music and jewelry seem to have both important role in his life, though music always had the upper hand. He told me a lot about how he got into music, the complicated situation in Lebanon at the time and about his musical, cultural and political influences and ideas. He showed me his collection of old photos and press clippings of the band. Most of them were punched with small holes. I asked him what happened, and he told me that one day during the war he had come home to his apartment and when he entered, he saw a reflection of the rifle scope of a sniper. He ducked down, the sniper started shooting at him but luckily the bullets went over his head hitting the shelf behind him and leaving little holes in all of his old photos and press clippings. Issam’s debut album “Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard” was recorded in 1977 in Paris, most likely in May or June. Issam Hajali had to leave Lebanon after the Syrian intervention for political reasons and spent one year in exile in France. Within that period of time there he struggled to make ends meet, playing guitar in the subway. He could only afford one studio day to record the whole project together with a band compromised of some musicians from France, one from Algeria, one from Iran and a friend from Beirut called Roger Fahr, whom had left Lebanon around the same time. While you can hear the musical roots of what later became Ferkat Al Ard in “Mouasalat Ila Jacad El Ard”, the album also differs from Issam’s later recordings. “It’s more of just me, whereas the sound of the band was more of a group effort”, he recalls. Melancholic stripped-down, guitar-based folk is followed by jazz-fused breaks and every here and there that unique sound of the santour glistening through. While the music is very accessible, some song structures are rather atypical neglecting the common patterns of verse, hook, verse, hook. The lyrics mostly trace back to the poetic work of Palestinian author Samih El Kasem with one song also written by Issam, who composed the music for all of them. In late 1977 Issam could return to Beirut and took the not yet released album back with him. He could only afford to spend a short time in the studio, just to add little bits and pieces like percussion to finish an album that still felt unfinished to him. Even back in Beirut his economic situation was complicated, and it was impossible to find a label which was still operating under the circumstances of war. So, he started dubbing the tapes himself and producing black and white copies at the corner store. Most of the copies of the album were sold or given to friends. One record shop had them on the shelves on a commission basis. But as the shop owner was no fan of the music, she did little to sell them, hiding the tapes behind other releases. Eventually one of those tapes fell into the hands of Ziad Rahbani, Fairuz’s son and a Lebanese musical institution in his own right. Ziad liked the music a lot and used to play on most of Ferkat Al Ard’s releases. And Issam also played on some of Ziad’s recordings and sessions. Nevertheless, the album was never known outside a very small scene of like-minded individuals and musicians of late 1970s Beirut. Issam is fairly certain that less than 100 copies of the tape were made back then in total and he only managed to hang onto one copy himself, from which this recording was made.

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Bibi Ahmed “Adghah” (Subterrania)

2019-11-15T05:14:30+00:00November 15th, 2019|

Bibi Ahmed, head and bandleader of Group Inerane, is from Agadez, Niger, which is one of the most volatile, unbridled and dangerous parts of the world.

“Bibi was soon confronted with the oppression and marginalization of the Tuareg by the national governments of Mali and Niger. Just as early awakened his love for music. As a child, Bibi Ahmed taught himself to play the guitar before receiving his education from the great master and father of the Tuareg blues, Abdallah ag Oumbadougou. Marked by the experiences in the Libyan refugee camps during the Tuareg uprising, Bibi Ahmed and his band Group Inerane gave the rebellion its own musical voice, while at the same time making the rich tradition of Tamachek guitar singing accessible to a new generation of listeners.

In February 2019 and in collaboration with Sounds of Subterrania and Lotte Lindenberg Studio, Bibi recorded his first solo album on which he played all of the instruments himself. This reduction opened up a whole new view on this quite extraordinary mix of Tuareg blues, electrified Tamachek folk and psychedelic Sahara rock. The listener literally feels the shimmer of the heat and, once one embarks on the path of listening, the differences between spiritual trance and hypnotic psychedelic blues become indistinct.”

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Various Artist “Congo Revolution” (Soul Jazz)

2019-11-15T05:08:37+00:00November 15th, 2019|

Soul Jazz’s impeccable curatorial team turn their focus to the Revolutionary and Evolutionary Sounds from the Two Congos 1955-62 on this comprehensive new collection. In these years leading up to independence, there was an explosion of musical styles that are charted here and include jazz and Latin influences, Cuban rhythms, Afro drums and Congolese rumba stylings that transport you away from this dreary autumn and to much warmer climes. This package also includes a 50-page booklet detailing extensive texts about the musical happenings of the period and stunning images by Congolese nightlife photographer Jean Depara.

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Various Artists “Nigeria Soul Power 70” (Soul Jazz)

2019-11-15T05:08:35+00:00November 15th, 2019|

Soul Jazz Records’ Record Store Day exclusive 7” box set comprising five heavyweight 70s Afro- Funk, Afro-Disco and Afro-Rock 7” singles with unique bespoke label artwork and all digitally remastered. Seriously rare, killer and classic Nigerian 70s Afro- Funk, Afro-Disco and Afro-Rock tunes bought together here in this unique one off Record Store Day box set edition. It features Geraldo Pino, Wings, Tony Grey and the Ozimba Messengers, Don Bruce and the Angels etc.

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Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe “Osondi Owendi” (Hive Mind)

2019-10-25T03:50:53+00:00October 25th, 2019|

“Osondi Owendi. What is cherished by some is despised by others. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Different strokes for different folks. To each their own. Osondi Owendi. It’s a conventional aphorism in the Igbo language but if you utter the word ‘osondi owendi’ in Nigeria today, the first thing that comes to anybody’s mind is the cucumber-cool highlife music maestro Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and his legendary album that takes its name from the adage. Released in 1984, Osondi Owendi was instantly received as Osadebe’s magnum opus, the crowning event of an exalted career stretching back to the early years of highlife’s emergence as Nigeria’s predominant popular music. Stephen Osadebe first appeared on the music scene in 1958 as a spry, twenty-two year-old vocalist in the Empire Rhythm Skies Orchestra, directed by bandleader Steven Amechi. With his dapper suits, urbane Nat King Cole-influenced vocal stylings and jaunty, up-tempo, calypso-scented dance tunes, he personified the frisky spirit and anxious aspirations of a young, educated generation that had come of age in the wake of the Second World War . . . 1959 would be the year that he truly made his mark in the business with his debut solo single ‘Lagos Life Na So So Enjoyment’. A giddy exhortation of the music, sex, fun and freedom availed by life in the big city, the song became a sensation and an anthem, and Stephen Osadebe became the leader of his own popular dance band, the Nigerian Sound Makers . . . As Nigeria emerged from a devastating civil war, so did a new generation of youth inspired by rock and funk, confrontational sounds reflective of a more violent, less idealistic era. All of the sudden, the idioms of the post-WWII dance orchestras that nurtured Osadebe’s cohort seemed quaint, the stuff of nostalgia. Osadebe needed to evolve to respond to the new tumultuous, turned-up times . . . Abetted by a new crop of fire-blooded young players, Osadebe slowed his music to a mellow, meditative tempo, brought forward the lumbering, Afro Cuban-accented bass and percussion, from the rockers he borrowed searing lead lines on the electric guitar. Over this musical bedrock, doesn’t so much as sing as he dreamily muses, coos, sighs aphorisms, words of wisdom and inspiration . . . Osadebe christened the style oyolima — a tranquil, otherworldly state of total relaxation and pleasure. Osondi Owendi represents oyolima at its finest, and possibly Nigerian highlife in epitome.” –Uchenna Ikonne, June 2019

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Various Artists “Return To The Mothers’ Garden (More Funky Sounds Of Female Africa 1971-1982)” (Africa Seven)

2019-10-25T03:48:20+00:00October 25th, 2019|

“For you will find, as women have found through the ages, that changing the world requires a lot of free time. Requires a lot of mobility. Requires money, and, as Virginia Woolf put it so well, ‘a room of one’s own,’ preferably one with a key and a lock. Which means that women must be prepared to think for themselves, which means, undoubtedly, trouble with boyfriends, lovers, and husbands, which means all kinds of heartache and misery, and times when you will wonder if independence, freedom of thought, or your own work is worth it all. We must believe that it is. For the world is not good enough; we must make it better.”

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Mamman Sani “La Musique Electronique du Niger” (Sahel Sounds)

2020-03-07T06:09:46+00:00October 25th, 2019|

Mamman Sani Abdullaye is a legendary name amongst Niger’s avant garde. A pioneer of early West African electronic music, for over 30 years his instrumentals have filled the airwaves. The instrumental background drones of radio broadcasts and instrumental segue ways of TV intermissions borrow heavily from his repertoire. The dreamy organ instrumentals drift by sans comment, yet are known to all.
Mamman first found the organ in 1974.

Mamman’s composes in technique that can only be called minimal, relying on the simplicity and space. It is a remarkable manipulation of sound that uses the silence to invoke the emptiness – a metaphoric desert soundscape. Unsurprisingly, his source material is folkloric Nigerien music, and many of the compositions on this record are reproductions of ancient songs brought into the modern age. Interpreting this rich and varied history of Niger’s dance and song for the first time in contemporary musics, Mamman electrifies the nomadic drum of the tende, the polyphonic ballads of the Woddaabe, and the pastoral hymns of the Sahelian herders. Accompany this repertoire are a few compositions, such as Salamatu, the deeply personal love letter to an unrequited romance.

His first and only album was recorded in 1978. Mamman stepped into the studio of the National Radio with his organ, where it was transposed and overdubbed in two takes. In coordination with the Minister of Culture, the album was released in a limited series of cassettes showcasing modern Niger music. The cassette project, unfortunately, did not progress as planned, and merely a handful were released. Today his cassettes are rare objects, highly sought by fine art connoisseurs and experimental music collectors in Niamey.

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Ismail & Sixu Touré “Mandinka Dong” (Hot Mule)

2019-10-18T03:56:36+00:00October 18th, 2019|

1977, Paris France. Two brothers freshly arrived from Casamance, the Senegalese ‘Florida’, are living the tough immigrant experience. Their plan: becoming pop stars. A challenge so ambitious it sounds like science fiction at the time: Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and a handful of others artists have started making waves in the Western World , but the rise of the Pan-African sound is still at an early stage. The Touré brothers have formed a band, written some songs, and start frequently playing their music live, to great effect, at an underground theatre called the Dunois in the 13th Parisian district. The hype starts spreading.

Overcoming the odds, their parents’ ban on playing music (“a satanic activity”), the death of their brother and mentor Amadou and a stint in a Mauritanian prison, they will ultimately reach stardom a few years later under the name Touré Kunda (The Elephant Family). A legendary 40-year career will follow: 16 albums released, millions of records sold, numerous world tours, awards and collabs with the likes of Manu Dibango, Talking Heads, Carlos Santana, Bill Laswell, Alpha Blondy, Bernie Worrell…

Released in 1979, self-financed by loans from friends and allies, Mandinka Dong is the genesis of Touré Kunda, the cornerstone of the band’s unique sound, at the crossroads of Disco, Funk, Pop, Reggae, Portuguese, Guinean, Cuban, Zairean, Mandinke and Soninke music. Limited to 700 copies and very difficult to find in decent condition, the original pressing faded into oblivion for decades. A low-resolution digital version of the album started circulating in recent years, not doing justice to the rich analog sound of the recording.

It is an honour for Secousse and Hot Mule Records to present a complete reissue of Mandinka Dong. Faithfully restored and remastered, it will be available in both digital and physical formats (in gatefold vinyl illustrated with photos from the artists’ archives and liner notes by Frank Tenaille, the band’s official biographer).

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Ghania With Pharoah Sanders “The Trance Of Seven Colors” (Zehra)

2019-10-11T03:17:16+00:00October 11th, 2019|

Zehra present The Trance Of Seven Colors by master Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania and free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, available on vinyl for the very first time. Originally released in 1994 on Bill Laswell’s Axiom imprint, and produced by Bill Laswell, The Trance Of Seven Colors is the meeting of two true musical masters. Maleem Mahmoud Ghania (1951-2015), son of the master of Gnawa music Maleem Boubker Ghania and the famous clairvoyant and “moqaddema”, A’isha Qabral, and a master of the traditional Gnawa style in his own right. Mahmoud learned this craft as a youth along with his brothers, walking from village to village, performing ceremonies with his father Boubker and was one of the few masters (Maleem) who continued to practice the Gnawa tradition strictly for healing (the central ritual of the Gnawa is the trance music ceremony — with the purpose of healing or purification of the participants). With 30 cassette releases of music from the Gnawa repertoire with his own ensemble and performances at every major festival in Morocco, including performing for the King in various contexts, Mahmoud Ghania was also one of Morocco’s most prominent professional musicians. In 1994, Bill Laswell and Pharoah Sanders went to Morocco equipped with just some mobile recording devices to record Ghania and a large ensemble of musicians (a good portion being family members) in a very intimate set-up at a private house. Sanders, the legendary free jazz musician, contributed the distinctive tenor saxophone sounds that gained him highest praise as a truly spiritual soul right from the days of playing with John Coltrane and his wife Alice and on seminal solo albums, like Karma (1969). The aptly titled The Trance Of Seven Colors ranks among the best Gnawa recordings ever released, making it onto The Vinyl Factory’s list of “10 incredible percussive albums from around the world”. 25 years after its original CD release, it is finally available on vinyl. Remastered for vinyl and vinyl cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. 180 gram vinyl; comes in gatefold sleeve; includes download code. “One of the most important albums of Gnawa trance music released in the ’90s.” –The Attic “first-hand access to Gnawa healing ceremonial music”

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Ondigui And Bota Tabansi International “Ewondo Rythm” (BBE)

2019-09-20T04:21:49+00:00September 20th, 2019|

Since the 60s, Congolese guitar combos and orchestras have always been popular across West and Central Africa. But the ‘natural fit’ element between East Nigerian Igbo highlife and Congolese rumba and soukous made for a unique beat: highlife-soukous.

Although eclipsed internationally by Lagos, Yoruba, Fela Kuti and Afrobeat, it was highlife- soukous that you’d hear at parties all over southern Nigeria in the late 70s and early 80s.

Outside Africa, the sound proved a special favourite with Colombia’s Carnival Champeta and Pico Sound system DJs – where, even today, you can hear super-rare Bota International original vinyls booming out over 20-foot-high speaker stacks along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, the records being ‘covered up’ in the style of British Northern Soul 45s, or reggae sound system dubplates, so that competitors can’t discover the name of the tune or band.

Welcome to the mysterious world of highlife-soukous – and Bota Tabansi International.

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Ojo Balingo “Afrotunes Best of Juju Vol. II” (BBE)

2019-09-13T06:32:24+00:00September 13th, 2019|

Basically ‘Tabansi’ is music written by and for Nigerians, or specifically the Yoruba diaspora which nowadays makes up a fifth of the Nigerian population. Juju is distinguished from Highlife, which was written mostly for Western audiences and sung in pidgin English. While slight, the differences are crucial, and essentially Juju of the sort played by Ojo Balingo and his amazing band is the real deal Yoruban music, more often played on local instruments, sung in local tongues, and absolutely full of mesmerising West African percussive voodoo, with some era-appropriate ‘70s funk breaks and psyche Hawaiian guitars to boot.

“Popularised all over the globe by King Sunny Ade in the 1980s, juju music had actually been around for decades before. Resembling highlife music in many ways, juju could be described as a more traditionally African form, mainly played by Yoruba people for Yoruba audiences.Although the original sleeve artwork implies that this is a ‘various artists’ album, it’s pretty clear that it’s the same unnamed juju band throughout, performing two long tracks, one on each side. Side 1 calls forth more traditional juju sounds, whilst the darker Side 2 adds funk breaks galore. Psych-rock Hawaiian guitars, talking drums and political lyrics rub shoulders in this almost-unknown 70s juju rarity. Ojo Balingo, in Yoruba, means ‘rain comes’, or ‘a breeze comes’. And so it does, with this never-before reissued obscure collectors’ vinyl from the vaults of Tabansi Records.”

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El Rego “El Rego” (Daptone)

2019-09-13T06:31:23+00:00September 13th, 2019|

El Rego is a true legend of African Soul Music. Here for the first time on album are 12 of his greatest recordings from the late ’60s and early ’70s hand-picked by Daptone Records.

Afro-Soul collector/DJ Frank Gossner had spent years combing West Africa tracking down 45’s by Theophile Do Rego (aka El Rego) before finally meeting him face to face in his home in Benin. From that relationship came this album, which Daptone present to you here in a 20 page hardcover Bookcase CD featuring El Rego’s own story of his life and music along with pictures from his personal collection and artwork from his original 45’s. The music has been remastered with great care, and the vinyl contains an exclusive BONUS 45’ (while supplies last) of “Se Na Min”, one of his most sought after afro-funk tracks, backed with “E Ma Non Tin Me”, a beautiful and somewhat more traditional song about two blind men who agree to go together and leap to their deaths into a river.

The music of El Rego varies astoundingly in style and rhythm: traditional rhythms of Benin played with modern instruments, John Lee Hooker-esque blues, Fela Kuti inspired afro-beat, afro-cuban claves, and straight-up James Brown style funk. However, there is a common musical thread that runs throughout. The music has a raw soulfulness and a unique flavor that can be attributed beyond the sound of Benin, to the sound of El Rego himself. There is a timelessness to the recordings that ties all of the traditions that inspire them directly to the grooves that were dominating the radios and jukeboxes of the early ’70s. The record is teeming with breaking drums and twanging guitars, twisting basslines and undulating percussion. But most importantly. the rhythms are all crafted by a man that not only performed, but also owned nightclubs and had an intimate understanding of the importance of dancing.

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The New Tutankhamen “I Wish You Were Mine” (Nyami Nyami)

2019-09-13T06:31:20+00:00September 13th, 2019|

Nyami Nyami Records present a lost piece of Zimbabwean musical history: the only album from local legends the New Tutenkhamen, combining Jazz, Soul, Folk and Township rhythms – available for the first time in over 40 years.

The New Tutenkhamen included many stars of Zimbabwean township music: Elisha Josamu was an alumnus of the fabulously-named Hallelujah Chicken Run Band (alongside Thomas Mapfumo), and Green Jangano’s long-running Harare Mambos, and would later form Two Plus Two with bassist Christopher “Chex” Tavengwa. Jethro Shasha played the drums, and would arguably become the New Tutenkhamen’s most famous export, making continental waves working with likes of Salif Keita. Paul Sekerani played the rhythm guitar, with Amos Chatyoka on the organ, while the enigmatic Maggie Mbuli provided vocals and F. Manda played the sax.

I WISH YOU WERE MINE was recorded at Teal Records and was produced by Crispen Matema, a talented jazz drummer in his own right who had played drums on the all-time classic “Skokiaan”, and had backed Louis Armstrong on his 1960 Rhodesia visit. Combining the heavyweight producing talents of Matema and the writing chops of Josamu, the New Tutenkhamen band created an album showcasing various musical styles popular at the time.

From the afro-jazz jam session aesthetics of “Tutenkhamen Theme”, “Big Brother Malcom” and “Forever Together”, to the almost Van Morrison-sounding “Sunday Morning”; from the upbeat rock ballad “True Love”, to the funk-infused dance song “Togetherness”; from the bouncy jazz exhortations to work hard in “Ane Nungo”, to the brassy, raunchy foot-stomper “Me & Dolly”. The title track “I Wish You Were Mine” is a ska-infused ballad that wouldn’t be out of place in post-war Birmingham, while the star of the show is “Joburg Bound”, itself a fast-paced rock piece with Motown undertones and funky guitar lines.

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Asnake Gebreyes “Ahadu” (Buda Musique)

2019-09-13T06:31:19+00:00September 13th, 2019|

A further instalment in the Ethiopiques series on Buda Musique – a classic album of meditative Ethiopian sounds, originally released on cassette in 1988.

Born in 1963, Singer Asnake Gebreyes released a series of sought-after cassette-only recordings in Addis Ababa in the 80s before going on to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest stars.

The album combines classic Ethio Jazz sounds with a harder, funky approach.

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Tinariwen “Amadjar” (Wedge)

2019-09-13T06:31:17+00:00September 13th, 2019|

The best Tinariwen album hasn’t been recorded yet. Perhaps it never will be. Because the best Tinariwen music isn’t the music they perform in front of microphones. It’s the music they play at night around the fire, back in their own country, amongst themselves and at their own pace. Having eaten, and drunk their tea, the men bring out their guitars, chat, remember old songs and let the music come. In those moments, the music can become like the fire, free, magical and impossible to stuff into a box. It rises up like a shower of sparks or a state of grace, without premeditation; the momentary manifestation of a friendship, a community, an environment, a history; the revelatory connection with something that belongs only to them, and goes beyond them. Their discography stretching out over the last 17 years, all the tours and the international recognition have changed nothing: Tinariwen are still a desert band, only certain aspects of which the western music industry can ever hope to capture and present. Tinariwen existed long before any of their albums were recorded, and they still exist quite distinct from their discographic dimension. So, the best Tinariwen album doesn’t exist. But it’s still worth trying to go and find it.
The story of Amadjar, the ninth Tinariwen album, begins at the end of October 2018, at the Taragalte Festival of nomadic cultures in the Moroccan Sahara. After a concert and a sandstorm, Tinariwen hit the road and head for Mauritania, via southern Morocco, Western Sahara and the Atlantic coast. The destination is important (the band have to set up and record their album there, and hook up with the singer Noura Mint Seymali), but no more so than the journey itself. Tinariwen are joined by their French production team, who arrive in old camper van that’s been converted into a makeshift studio. The journey to Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, takes a dozen days or so. Every evening, the caravan stops to set up camp and the members of Tinariwen get to work under the stars – a whole lot better than being in a studio after all – to prepare for the recording, talking things through, letting their guitar motifs, thoughts and long buried songs come. Then, during a final camp in the desert around Nouakchott that lasts about fifteen days, to an audience of scorpions, the band record their songs under large tent. In a few live takes, without headphones or effects. The Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly, come to throw their musical tradition on the embers lit by Tinariwen – the curling vocals of Noura Mint Seymali on the song ‘Amalouna’ will become a highlight.
This nomadic album, recorded in a natural setting, is as close as you can get to Tinariwen. And also, therefore, to the idea that things can evolve: bassist Eyadou plays a lot of acoustic guitar; percussionist Said tries his hand at new instruments; Abdallah exhumes songs that he’s never played on stage with Tinariwen. And that violin that appears on several songs and reminds you of the traditional imzad? It’s actually played by Warren Ellis. The violinist in Nick Cave’s band is one of several western guests on the album. We also hear the mandolin and charango of Micah Nelson (son of the country music giant Willie Nelson, and Neil Young’s guitarist), and the guitars of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), Cass McCombs and Rodolphe Burger. The album is mixed by Jack White’s buddy Joshua Vance Smith.

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Nahawa Doumbia “La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 1” (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

2019-09-13T06:30:04+00:00September 13th, 2019|

Nahawa Doumbia is one of Mali’s defining vocalists of the last four decades. Her work journeys through progressive stages of musical evolution and sonic vogues, making it hard to summarize or even comprehend. She’s played a part in popular music since the late ’70s, as her version of Wassoulou music developed from vocals-and-guitar duo into full-scale touring bands packing a bombastic, electrified punch. As Doumbia puts it, “My music has changed multiple times to this day…The more I progressed in my musical career, the more instruments I have had accompany my songs.” Awesome Tapes From Africa will release Doumbia’s debut recording La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 1 this August, building on the success of the label’s first-ever reissue back in 2011, Doumbia’s La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 3. This seminal classic, which is still sought-after in Mali today, will finally be available for the first time internationally with remastered audio on LP, CD, Tape and Digital formats. The recording looks back to the beginning of Doumbia’s long career, when she was performing in a simple voice and acoustic guitar format. This was before she added bass and drums, and finally the electric guitar and synths for which she became known more recently. Released in 1981 by the excellent Côte d’Ivoire-based AS Records, the singer was barely 20 years old when it was recorded. She was accompanied by her future husband N’Gou Bagayoko on acoustic guitar, whose style echoes the nimble runs of traditional kamele n’goni players. The stark simplicity of this highly intimate recording-the audible room acoustics, the occasionally in-the-red vocals-do not obscure the mature strength of her voice. On Vol 1 Doumbia performs her songs with the tenacity and hunger of a young artist on the cusp.”When I think about it, first, I am reminded of how long ago it was. It’s one of the albums that I love most because it reminds me of my youth. I was so young and my voice was light and joyful. I still listen to some of those songs today. I am really proud of that first album because that’s where it all began. It shows me how far I’ve come in my personal and artistic life; it gives me the courage I need to keep going forward, and makes me appreciate all the years of dedication and hard work I put into my musical career.”These early songs are rhythmically built around Bagayoko’s sensitive guitar, as his fingers brush the fretboard and gently outline the melodies. Although this record predates the singer’s use of percussion, the driving skeletal didadi rhythm is apparent in the songs. Later albums like Vol 3 further prioritize her hometown didadi beat and the result made her famous.

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Various Artists “Alefa Madagascar” (Strut)

2019-09-06T04:23:40+00:00September 6th, 2019|

Strut continues its essential compilation series of Indian Ocean sounds with ‘Alefa Madagascar’, the first compilation to document the unique culture of salegy, soukous and soul on the island during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Originating as far back as the 15 th Century through folkloric ceremonial music and an a cappella chanting style called antsa, salegy emerged as a fast- tempoed local dance style based on 6/8 and 12/8 rhythms. By the ‘60s, radio was bringing in new sounds from the Congo, Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya and Jean Francois de Comarmond’s Discomad label championed a new generation of artists breaking the mould with their own new fusions of styles as electric instruments replaced the traditional. The strong call-and- response dialogues, rich vocal choruses and rolling triplet feel in the rhythm sections all boasted a unique Malagasy sensibility and singles started selling tens of thousands of copies, rivalling any foreign music at the time. Local pop was sometimes referred to as tapany maintso (half-green) a reference to the stickers on singles from the other key label in Madagascar, Kaïamba, many of them produced by Charles Maurin Poty whose work was crucial in shaping the emerging genre.

‘Alefa Madagascar’ showcases the rich variety of sounds during this heyday of Malagasy music: Roger Georges’ ‘Mama’ and Jean Kely et Basth’s ‘Andosy Mora’ bring the raw energy of salegy, influential band Los Matadores drop military drums and Hammond soul in the classic ‘Andeha Hanarato’; Mahaleo’s ‘Izahay Mpamita’ showcases the band’s powerful folk sound, a crucial voice emerging from the Rotaka farmer and student protests of 1972, while Terak’Anosy Group work around a stomping Congolese guitar groove. The era paved the way for many of the household names of Malagasy music today including Jaojoby, D’Gary and Lego.

Mastered by The Carvery and featuring cover artwork by top illustrator Lewis Heriz, ‘Alefa Madagascar’ is released on 16th August 2019 and is compiled by Réunionese DJs La Basse Tropicale and Percy Yip Tong (Mauritius). Physical formats feature sleeve notes by influential producer Charles Maurin Poty and Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide.

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Ali Farka Toure “Savane” (World Circuit)

2019-09-06T04:23:38+00:00September 6th, 2019|

Remastered and available for the first time on vinyl. ‘Savane’ is the last solo album by the legendary Malian singer and guitarist Ali Farka Touré. Recorded in Bamako, Mali with his specially assembled down-home ngoni group, and often acclaimed as his finest album, ‘Savane’ is both one of the most traditional and seemingly the most blues-drenched of Ali’s recordings.

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Ofege “Higher Plane Breeze” (Tidal Waves)

2019-08-30T02:44:25+00:00August 30th, 2019|

Ofege was formed in the early 1970s by a bunch of teenagers at the St. Gregory’s College in Lagos Nigeria. They were largely influenced by the guitar solos of Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page while closer to home, they were influenced by the music of ‘BLO’ (Berkley Jones, Laolu Akins and Mike Odumosu), ‘Monomono’ (led by Joni Haastrup), The Funkees, and Ofo The Black Company.

Due to their vibrant combo of sweet harmonies, hooks & fuzz, Ofege would become one of the most legendary Nigerian groups of all time, with expressive sales and national stardom. At the turn of the century (and because of tracks appearing on various psychedelic music compilations) Ofege would receive international acknowledgment for being the first of their kind and the ultimate West-African psychedelic funk band!

Their first album (Try and Love – 1973) was recorded while the band members were still in high school (average age of 16). It took some years before other albums saw the light since some band members still had to finish school. Further astonishing recordings include ‘The Last of The Origins’ (1976), ‘Higher Plane Breeze’ (1977) and ‘How Do You Feel’ (1978).

‘Higher Plane Breeze’ (released in 1977 on Polydor Nigeria) is Ofege’s third album and it’s a STRONG one, combining funk and disco influences with Afrobeat and heavy rock guitars. The album provides one of the Nigerian scene’s most iconic images with its cover shot showing one member squatting amongst his bandmates, middle fingers raised high and proud toward the camera.

Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents the first reissue of this landmark Nigerian album. This RARE classic (original copies tend to go for large amounts on the secondary market) is now finally back available as a limited vinyl edition (500 copies) complete with the original artwork and exclusive liner notes/pictures provided by Ofege’s founding member ‘Melvin Ukachi’ who also supervised this reissue.

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