Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shaking Soul

During the famous 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture, it was Benin's T.P. Orchestre Poly-rythmo that stole the show. I'll feature them in the future. Until then, here's a couple of tracks from Nigeria and Congo (via Nairobi again).

Victor Uwaifo's Erame just puts a smile on my face: the heavy brass playing around with the organ, the vibraphone dipping into the groove, sharp spare drums, and the bass of Victor's voice. He's now "Ambassador, Plenipotentiary Extraordinary of Culture and Tourism, Cross-Rivers State, Nigeria." Really, read all about it on his site where you can also order some of his newer albums.


Auguila Gaston Demaye composed Soul Soukous and that's about all I can write. This is probably a Congolese original (Pathe 45), reprinted in Nairobi. No other information. So just enjoy and dance the Soul Soukous.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Safi! Kali!

Here's a 45 from Nairobi by Lawi Somona. I've posted both sides. Part 2 features the extended sebene. I love the melodic interweaving of the multiple guitars, with the bass and drums driving the groove forward.

This is one of those bands described on www.muzikifan.com, a great site with good discographies.

Fresh/Pure & Sharp (that's what Safi and Kali mean),
Lawi Somona Pt.1 & Pt.2

Friday, April 6, 2007

Soul with Moambe Sauce

Dipping into Congolese vinyl, with two 1970s funk excursions by Tabu Ley and Trio Madjesi. Trio Madjesi ('Mario' Matadidi Mabele, 'Djeskain' Loko Massengo, and Bonghat 'Max Sinatra' Tshekabu , a.k.a. Saak Saakul) & Orchestre Sosoliso are best known for Sex Madjesi, their version of James Brown's Sex Machine. Hailing from Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, and Zaire, they filled soccer stadium with their fancy moves and infectious grooves. Some of their work was reissued on CD but I didn't find quick links (might also be out of print...). Here's one of my favorite tracks: the sebene part of Carte Blanche (1973)!

What's even better, you can watch them. Someone saved a television performance of Sosoliso na Sosoliso/Sex Madjesi. Performing in soccer outfits (they had several tunes celebrating soccer, like Butteur and Penalty), it's wonderful to be able to see this rare footage. Imagine what their concerts must have been like!

Tabu Ley (Rochereau) is one of Africa's musical giants, alongside Fela Kuti and Franco Luambo Makiadi. I feel lucky that I've seen them all perform live. I haven't heard of Tabu Ley doing concerts lately but he's still around.

I always found Tabu Ley to be a bit more musically adventurous than Franco (though Franco will always be the Grand Maitre). Here's an example of a beautiful duet with Muana Shaba from 1973: Dialogue (anyone has more info on Muana Shaba?). It's not too difficult to still find Tabu Ley's work.

Hope you enjoy these grooves.

P.S. Gary Stewart's Rumba On The River provides the best history of the music of the Congos. That's where I got the title for this post: reviewing a legendary concert by Trio Madjesi, they called it 'Du soul a la sauce moambe.'

Parading Past Hits: Congo - Nairobi

I don't know much about the bands on this elpee. I guess most are Congolese musicians who drifted to Nairobi and recorded there.

Orchestre Hi-Fives do their multicultural and multilinguistic thing, singing in English, Swahili, French, and Lingala (Learn how to say "I Love You" in all of these languages!). I especially love its 'sebene', the instrumental part of the piece, made for extended dancing and sometimes described as beau desordre (beautiful chaos). Going back to the 1940s, radio trottoir has it that Wendo Kolosoy and Henri Bowane started it all with the hit Marie Louise. In the 1970s, it continues on. Agy I Love You simply has such a sweet groove!

On a mellower note, Moji & The Tropicals lament the suffering in the world (that's what Duniani Mateso means, in Swahili). I haven't come across other releases of Moji (aside from a 45, released by French Barclays), but I'll look closer next time I'm in Nairobi and am able visit Melodica music store. It's another of my favorite, uncommon African pieces. You don't hear many transverse flutes in African music...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Funky Music From the S.J.O.B. Movement

A movement of 4 : Samuel, Jonnie, Ottay, and Bolla (EMI Nigeria). I don't remember where I picked this up, probably at Papa Disco's shop in Cotonou. It's one of those albums you simply want to buy because of the cover and a song called 'Stone Funk' always gets my attention!

P.S. Miles Cleret and Hugo Mendez at Soundway Records are going to release another Nigerian compilation, 'Nigeria Special: Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-1976 (Summer 2007).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Zamrock Creating Havoc

Another band from the copperbelt, The W.I.T.C.H. (short for 'We Intend To Cause Havoc') rocked Zambia in the early 1970s. One band member was still in school when they first recorded in the Malachite Studios in Chingola. Another one also played in The Peace. As their name suggests, they mostly rocked, with lots of guitar solos, wah wah fuzz boxes, and some distortion, but they also created plenty of rock-ballads.

Not much is known about the Witch: discovered by 'Groovy Holy Joe' (George Kunda), they recorded five albums and a couple of 45s in Chingola, Lusaka, and Nairobi. Shaderick Bwalya was responsible for most of The Witch's hits.

I found one album and a couple of reissue cds in Zambia. Lazy Bones has been reissued on vinyl and may still be available. Eastern and Southern Africa had their share of rock bands, probably more so than West Africa. The Anglophone influence of London's pop & rock?

The WITCH: "Havoc" & "Like a Chicken"