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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Creator and Author: Joe Tangari Released: April 4th, 2005 Email: email@example.com Chicago, IL -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TABLE OF CONTENTS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I. Introduction to Afrobeat  Intro: The Indestructible Beat  From Sea to Shining Sea: African Music in West and East Africa (a disclaimer)  Highlife Time: A Bit of History  Fela: Music Is the Weapon  More Than One Man's Music  Around the Horn: Afrobeat Outside of West Africa and Related Styles  Ethiopiques: The Wonderful and Strange Sound-World of Swinging Addis II. An Afropop Buyers' Guide  A Guide to Reliable Afropop Labels  Essential Recordings III. Africa 100: The Indestructible Beat: Track-by-Track  Disc 01 [Tracks 101-116]  Disc 02 [Tracks 201-214]  Disc 03 [Tracks 301-312]  Disc 04 [Tracks 401-415]  Disc 05 [Tracks 501-514]  Disc 06 [Tracks 601-615]  Disc 07 [Tracks 701-713]  Vinyl-Only Bonus Track -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------LINER NOTES -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------First appeared as a feature titled "The Indestructible Beat" at Pitchforkmedia.com
http://pitchforkmedia.com/features/weekly/05-04-04-the-indestructible-beat.shtml -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I. INTRODUCTION TO AFROBEAT ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>  Intro: The Indestructible Beat Afrobeat is a sound and a movement, music and a state of mind. It's the joyous awakening of a continent from a colonial nightmare and the crushing realization that the nightmare isn't over yet, anguish and happiness whipped together with traditional drums, cheap guitars, and even cheaper amps. Afrobeat is a term with no solid definition, like punk, rock, or soul, although it may be all three of those things. No one knows who first used the word, but as far as history is concerned, it belongs to Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the late Nigerian giant through whom any understanding of the sound of 1970s Africa must pass. In the most limited sense, you could say that Afrobeat is the cinematic, polyrhythmic, symphonic funk sound that Fela developed with superhuman drummer Tony Allen, but it's much more than that. This article isn't an attempt to tell the whole story of African music; it's an account of the time I've spent exploring the popular sounds of 1960s and 70s Africa. It's not the easiest music to fall deeply in love with, in part because it comes from a place most Westerners aren't close to understanding, a continent obscured by our misconceptions, prejudices, and expectations of "world music." The other difficulties are more practical: The most fertile period for African funk, soul, rock, and jazz lasted from 1965 to 1982, a time of great upheaval in Africa, and much of this music wasn't recorded. Of that which was put to tape, if the masters still exist, they're likely significantly degraded by decades of neglect. For what has been recovered, distribution can be spotty, and the shop that has two things you're looking for is usually missing four other things you want to check out. Compilers of these sounds must track down the musicians, hunt out masters in forgotten, crumbling pressing plants, and sift through bins of scratched, dusty vinyl in the markets of Accra, Conakry, and Lagos looking for the lost slab of brilliant funk or the 45 with the highlife A-side and the totally unexpected fuzz-rock B-side. The rewards of those efforts have been huge, though, and I'm pleased this music is increasingly getting the spotlight it deserves.
>>  From Sea to Shining Sea: African Music in West and East Africa (a disclaimer) Afropop was a wide-ranging phenomenon, but the primary geographic area I've been exploring extends from Senegal in West Africa, along the Atlantic coast to Nigeria and Cameroon, and then over to Ethiopia and Kenya, with a detour or two to South Africa. This is an immense area and a huge number of
countries, and the flavor in each one is a bit different, from Kenya's rough-and-tumble funk to South Africa's sleek sophistication to the wild experimentation of Ghanaian funk and fusion bands. The decision to leave out most of Central and North Africa is partly practical and partly a matter of taste. The sound of central Africa is focused on variants of soukous, the Congolese form of Cuban rhumba that dominated popular music there for much of the 20th Century, and I haven't really had enough time to hear an appreciable amount of it. It also bears little resemblance to either Fela's Afrobeat or any other tangentially related African pop music. Similarly, topography-- namely the Sahara Desert-- separates Mediterranean Africa from the rest of the continent, and the culture there is more Arabic than African. Rai, Andaluse, and other North African styles are singular, and though a bit of cross-pollination is inevitable, it's really an altogether separate world. I'm also leaving out a discussion of African hip-hop, which is blowing up big time at the moment. The best scenes are in Senegal, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
>>  Highlife Time: A Bit of History The antecedents of Afrobeat are numerous-- it's fusion music in the truest sense, incorporating elements of essentially any available source material. Loosely speaking, the Afrobeat of Fela and other early practitioners like Orlando Julius Ekomode was a modernization of the dance-band highlife that dominated the popular music of Anglophone African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. Highlife was a general term given to several styles of music that were themselves fusions of Western ballroom and swing music, Trinidadian calypso, Liberian sailors' songs, palmwine guitar music (so called because of the drink imbibed at events where it was played), and-- most importantly-- local rhythms. The greatest highlife star was E.T. Mensah, whose tours of West Africa with his Tempos Band spread the music far and wide. He's credited with introducing it to Nigeria, and his concerts with Louis Armstrong are among the earliest seeds of Afrobeat. These new musical hybrids emerged at the same time as the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and the decolonization of Africa by European powers, beginning on March 6, 1957, with the independence of Ghana under the pan-African prime minister Kwame Nkrumah. American jazz, soul, and funk became outlets for politics and expressions of black pride. James Brown visited the continent several times, and a listen to any Afrobeat compilation reveals his influence. By the end of the 60s, the optimism spurred by independence had dimmed considerably as some initially democratic governments calcified into autocratic regimes, as economies stagnated, militaries took power, and currencies plummeted in value. Nkrumah, a great thinker and activist, wasn't adept at governing and was overthrown in a coup in the wake of some disastrous economic policy decisions and a declaration of himself as president-for-life. It was against this backdrop that Fela took his band, Koola Lobitos, to Britain and the U.S., where he read the writings of Malcolm X and befriended members of the Black Panthers. When he returned home, his band had been renamed Africa '70 and he embarked on the long, wild course of loud, unflinching
he theorized. The arrangements were intricate. And of course. and Fulani communities could all understand it. album has "Very Important Persons" crossed out and replaced with "Vagabonds in Power" and he repurposed the acronym of multinational information conglomerate I.T.P. So much has already been written about Fela that it seems fruitless to rehash his biography.I." "Total Emancipation. massive horn sections and choirs." "Society" is just another way of spelling the Yoruba "so si ayiti. Fela's stage presence was mesmerizing.criticism of corruption and ineptitude in African government that cemented his legend and kept the Nigerian authorities exasperated until his death from AIDS in 1997.he claimed in an interview with guitarist Keziah Jones that English is Yoruba "wrongly spoken. He also saw Christianity and Islam as destroyers of an African way of life and predicated his lifestyle. Though he made huge sums of money from his music." he claimed.sat in a tattered chair in his communal home-. and Fela's furious baritone. while he blows bubbles containing the words and phrases "Pan-Africanism. Igbo. but left room for the accomplished soloists of the Africa '70 and his later band the Egypt '80. he chose to live in a dilapidated Lagos compound-.expressed his belief that blacks oppressing blacks in Nigeria is worse than whites oppressing blacks in South Africa." loosely translated as "tied in such a way that it appears free." and "Justice" from his sax on the cover of No Agreement. and he disdained the Nigerian elites who ignored the city's massive slums and rampant crime. including his controversial polygamy.Nigeria's Yoruba. Fela sang most of his epic songs in pidgin English to reach as wide an audience as possible-.with his wives and band members. and newspapers referred to him on a first-name basis. His album art spills over with these ideas: The imams and priests on the cover of Shuffering & Shmiling lord over piles of money near the words "Why Not African Religion?". Often he was less subtle: The cover of his V. cruel governance from abroad. incessant guitar ostinatos. In Stephane Tchal-Gadjieff and Jean Jacques Flori's great 1982 documentary Music Is the Weapon. believing that inept or cruel local government was no better than inept.T. as he was a great lover of wordplay and fluently bilingual-." "Freedom." . whether he wore his limegreen or aqua blue jumpsuits or just his underwear. Fela-. there's his sound: Eighteen-minute epics riding endless polyrhythmic grooves. and it exported easily to other English-speaking countries. his pink. cowrie-shell encrusted sax glistening as it hung from his neck. to stand for "International Thief Thief. Fela frequently fought with Nigeria's military governments.his contemporaries lived in his shadow. Singing in pidgin English had other advantages for Fela.his Kalakuta Republic-. Hausa. >>  Fela: Music Is the Weapon Overstating Fela's position in African music is impossible-. as fascinating as it is. on a return to African spirituality. because it's more insidious: It's more difficult to comprehend your oppression when the obviousness of racism is removed from the equation.
and a hugely diverse one at that-. and no one else comes close to that claim. was concurrent with Africa's funk explosion. he was easily outsold by Nigerian Juju master King Sunny Ade. Juju. and Decca (and its subsidiary Afrodisia). Whenever he was jailed. but whatever the numbers. police arrived at his house intending to plant marijuana on him and book him for possession. never compromising his beliefs or positions to accommodate anyone. >>  More Than One Man's Music Though Fela obviously looms large over African music. His 1977 album Zombie. by virtue of having Africa's largest population-. "he carries death in his pouch. a new regime would release him when it came to power. Ginger Baker. the first of its kind in Africa.) . a furious critique of the military.was a hotbed of new styles. prompted an attack on his compound that destroyed his home and left his mother with fatal injuries. In 1975.to the deeply Islamic Hausa funk of Ofo the Black Company and Sahara All Stars to the heavy. because my name is Anikulapo. Fela was the king of Afrobeat. Ghana's music industry was a web of shoestring operations that succeeded solely due to the raw talent of those involved. from Orlando Julius' "Super Afro Soul"-. a scathing indictment of the militarys brutal repression. who had become a great friend of Fela's and often sat in on drums on his early-70s shows. EMI. and Polydor all had massive operations there. He remained an activist to the end of his life. disco-informed groove of Fred Fisher and Thony Shorby Nyenwi. (Although Benin's Orchestra Polyrhtymo was one of West Africa's greatest bands. who released as many as 100 albums before he was ever heard on record outside of Africa. built the 16-track ARC Studios in Ikeja. he merely swapped with another prisoner and walked away a free man. on 1982's Island/Mango album Juju Music.Fela's outspoken stance made his life difficult and often tragic. While money flowed well in Nigeria. he had this to say in Music Is the Weapon: "They cannot kill me. with incredible scenes in Ghana and Nigeria in particular. while countries like Ivory Coast and Benin produced far fewer groups than their neighbors. detailing the whole ordeal on Expensive Shit. he delivered her coffin to an army barracks and wrote Coffin for Head of State." Fela replaced his given middle name Ransome with Anikulapo in the late 70s. roughly. and though Fela was revered by many. It's said that more than a million people attended his funeral. On his defiance in the face of tyranny. and rock bands. there were literally hundreds of great African funk. It soon had competition. things were more difficult in other countries. soul. Anikulapo means. Nigeria." About the only thing keeping Fela from a lifetime in prison was the instability of the Nigerian government itself. The modernization of West Africa's other great traditional music.immortalized on his classic 1966 album of the same name-. When they arrested him to get an incriminating stool sample. Nigerians also had the benefit of a highly professional music industry. Instead of backing down. but he confounded them by eating the joint.
>>  Around the Horn: Afrobeat Outside of West Africa and Related Styles While Afrobeat was primarily a West African phenomenon. Many of the bands that recorded soul or funk singles or albums weren't exclusively soul or funk bands.along with Mali. who covered "Jin-go-loba" and actually exerted a big influence on Afrobeat himself. and many Afrobeat compilations include American groups like Oneness of Juju and Lafayette Afro-Rock Band. and most of the bands in Senegal. with guitarist Sekou Diabate's searing. Guinea.who played a style of Afro-Cuban music called Ndagga that was a precursor to Youssou N'Dour and Etoile de Dakar's mbalax music-. and Guinea-Bissau-. Today. respectively. In Guinea. the music industry was controlled by the government of president Sekou Toure. . Known from that point forward as Bembeya Jazz National. including Ghanaian/Caribbean prog-funk band Osibisa (the name means "criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness"). who were briefly married in the 60s. folk and jazz scenes.played some local spin on it. Exiled South Africans Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masakela. based in London. Highlife and Afro-Cuban bands frequently wrote and recorded one-off stabs at Afrobeat or American soul.S. The resulting swirl of styles is exhausting to research and exhilarating to take in. whose albums were adorned with Roger Dean cover art.In Guinea. while Nigerian drummer Babatunde Oltunji's 1960 Drums of Passion album is widely regarded as the recording that created the world music industry. further inland-. most arising from the prolific fusion and jazz scenes. it put down roots elsewhere. while Kenyan funk bands Matata and Mombasa were overshadowed by the popularity of the upbeat soukous offshoot benga. Not surprisingly. the saxophonist/marimbist from Cameroon who recorded frequently in New York and scored a minor club hit (#72 R&B) with the tough funk track "Soul Makossa". Cubano son and rhumba heavily influenced the music of the West African coast. It's also the album that inspired countless jazz musicians to look to Africa for rhythmic inspiration. A limited number of African or part-African groups had success on other continents in the 60s and 70s. who set up a system of regional orchestras. and groups like the Yahoos or Ghana's African Brothers Band released a slew of singles touching on just about every sound you could name. Pepper costumes and energetic stabs at deep soul and British Invasion rock. psychedelic tone and the band's Afro-Cuban fusion so thoroughly mixed it became its own style.briefly garnered a lot of notice for their Sgt. with a few nearly unheard bands popping up in the Soukous strongholds of Congo and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). South Africa produced a number of remarkable funk bands. as well as Carlos Santana. Zambia's Zamrock was largely indebted to the Congolese soukous sound. and was a direct influence on Coltrane's A Love Supreme. but Gambia's Super Eagles-. the Orchestre de Beyla was so amazing that it was elevated to the status of national orchestra. Gambia. but it was always peripheral music there. the band was remarkably innovative for a government-controlled entity. And of course. there's Manu Dibango. Senegal's Orchestra Baobab was Bembeya's greatest counterpart. became minor stars on the U. as well as South African township jive and mbaqanga. Afrobeat had a huge influence on American funk in the 70s.
Britain. Mich. The institutional groups. Astatque was a hugely important figure in Ethiopian music. limited occupation by Mussolini's Italy. and Selassie's government kept tight control over the makeup and repertoire of the few institutional bands that did exist-. the funk explosion died in the early 80s. there is nothing else like it. the negus negast. Apart from a brief. Kokolo. or king of kings. The only known Ethiopian vibraphonist. Ethiopia was the only African country never to be colonized. though I consider it to be a thrilling and important part of the Afrobeat experience. had received formal training in composition and arranging outside of Ethiopia. Mulatu Astatque. on a series by the same name.most of which were tied to the National Theater. but the difference between Ethiopia and virtually everywhere else is that country was almost totally isolated. and Akoyo Afrobeat Ensemble and Ypsilanti. But it took all the way to the late 60s for this experimentation to find its way to the people. which has been well-documented in the last decade by France's Buda Musique Records. anyway and proceeded to document a period of incredible creativity and resourcefulness in the Ethiopian music community. but the country had adopted military marching bands. Only one member of the entire scene. In Africa itself. Ethiopia had no tradition of symphonic music and no real popular music to speak of in the immediate post-war era. Beginning in the late 1950s. the country remained untouched by European mismanagement. . By 1982.American groups such as New York's Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. arranging countless records and helping to craft the utterly distinctive "Ethiopique" sound. and black consciousness spanned the whole of the African diaspora. The fact is that funk and psychedelia were worldwide movements. to Jamaica. Ahma Records. >>  Ethiopiques: The Wonderful and Strange Sound-World of Swinging Addis I've intentionally held off on discussing Ethiopia's "Swinging Addis" music scene of 1969-1975 because. and for most of the 20th century remained under the rule of Haile Selassie. the last refuge of the country's electric highlife scene. an enterprising young man named Ahma Eshete set up his own label. and of course Africa itself. like Police Band and Body Guard Band.'s Nomo keep Afrobeat alive. with the founding of the first independent bands. diversified their sounds to compete. killed by worsening economic conditions and the withdrawal of major Western record labels and their funding. talk of so-called world music and even specific discussions of the history of music in individual countries tend to gloss over Afrobeat or ignore it entirely. the musicians and arrangers of these bands branched out and took steps toward incorporating Western sounds into their music. Though record distribution by non-government entities was prohibited by a 1948 imperial edict. something I feel is a reflection of how Westerners want to perceive the world than anything else. and Swinging Addis was born.S. Today. Other local scenes produced distinctive sounds. which increasingly went to lighter Afropop fare and traditional recordings. only two studios remained in Ghana: Ghana Films and the open-air Bokoor Studios. from Brazil and Peru to the U. One of the world's oldest nations.
put the breaks on Swinging Addis. harp. and there are also a few huge. Unfortunately. vibes. and Haile Selassie's reign was brought to a brutal end with Mengistu Haile-Mariam's Soviet-supported coup in 1975.Ethiopian music can probably best be described as dark. general world music labels that offer a few African recordings in their vast catalogues.S. electric guitars. The singing is mostly done in a melismatic head voice. it's mostly very accessible music to non-Ethiopians. The catalogues of Ethiopia's two local independent labels-. this isn't the easiest music to collect. rock. mostly in the U. The Ahma recordings have lo-fi warmth. Most African music is found in the U. but they're positively hi-fi compared to those on the Kaifa label. and several of the most important musicians went into exile. on compilations. electric organs. all of it was fair game.are a treasure trove of strange.S. but you get the occasional James Brown grunt from Alemayehu Eshete (no relation to Ahma) or a whispery. and it's some of my favorite stuff. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------II. and jazz sounded like without hearing any examples and then went and played all of those styles at once on whatever instruments were around-. Here are a few to look out for: 1. as Mengistu's reign became known. Part of it is the frustration of reading names like Jimi Solanke and Psychedelic Aliens in liner notes and then not being able to find any recordings by those bands. sometimes from vinyl if the masters aren't around anymore. one of the world's most vital and vibrant music scenes had all but died. More than that. Brighton. uncharacteristic singing style like that of Girma Beyene. or sometimes at all. the only foreign company to get significantly involved-. The curfews of the derg period. psychedelic funk and soul.horns. and I've never noticed a drop in sound quality on any of its releases.as well as that of Philips Ethiopia. the track selection on its multi-artist comps is nothing short of . because none exist outside of Africa. which rarely had the use of more than two microphones. There are a handful of very reliable labels. England's Sound Way equals quality. Despite its uniqueness. The label is run by passionate people who do things the right way: Every track on a Sound Way compilation is meticulously remastered. soul. the scene didn't last. and these tend to go in and out of print (though more out than in) as small boutique labels fold or bigger labels can't be bothered with keeping a low seller in print. Sound Way Simply put. AN AFROPOP BUYERS' GUIDE ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>  A Guide to Reliable Afropop Labels As I mentioned earlier. Recording activity lingered on into the late 70s. piano. but by the 80s. inscrutable music that sounds like nothing else on the planet. It's as though a group of highly skilled musicians were told what funk.
Its single-artist releases are equally rigorous and generally very comprehensive. and I highly recommend Alemayehu Eshete's 1989 album Addis Ababa. 5.astounding and the label fills its liners with tons of information. The remastering is always amazing. Sound Way carefully licenses all of the music it releases. which is noble. Shanachie keep its back catalogue in print on its website.T. along with tons of photographs and lyrics translated from their original languages into English and French. covering Angolan popular music from the entire post-war era. though the quality is likely to be high. Mensah highlife compilations. Afrostrut/Strut/Harmless .but if you've done your research. Buda Musique Paris label Buda Musique is one of the world's great imprints. 7. specializing in slightly more traditional music. Retro Afric' Retro Afric' is another great UK label. biographical information. with each volume covering a different span of years. Also. you'll be treated with good sound and usually lots of information. You want liner notes? The liners in a Buda Musique release cannot be beat. Full track notes. Stern's and its Earthworks subsidiary have labyrinthine catalogues that require research. as is the recent Bembeya Jazz compilation The Syliphone Years. 2. including Vintage Verckys. Shanachie Shanachie is another label with an unfathomable back catalogue. 6. Honest Jon's Damon Albarn's label is a beautiful thing. The five-part Angola series is also intriguing. It's no good for an off-the-cuff purchase-. one of a very few post-1975 Ethiopian records to gain wide release. it's worth mentioning just for its sheer excellence. 3. although sometimes the sources are not easy to work with. ongoing Ethiopiques series. It's responsible for two great E. and though its Afrobeat output is limited to a double reissue of two albums by Fela sidemen Tunde Williams and Lekan Animashaun.I've wound up with a few records that were really not my kind of thing-. Stern's/Earthworks Yet another behemoth. It's a young label with only five releases. along with the excellent Mali Music. 4. The Stern's Africa reissues of Orchestra Baobab's early 80s albums are great. Earthworks is the label responsible for bringing South Africa's township music to light on the epochal 1985 compilation The Indestructible Beat of Soweto. with a massive back catalogue stretching from traditional tribal music to the outstanding. but once again. the labels' outputs are too diverse to assume you know what you're getting. a superb look at Congo's Orchestre Veve. including bits of input from the original artists when available. historical contextÉit's all there. the Super Eagles retrospective Senegambian Sensation and a modest catalogue of interesting soukous records. and it has released such a wide variety that you never really know exactly what you're getting. but it may be the best one.
Labels like Naxos World and Nonesuch Explorer tend to be focused on a more ethnomusicological mission. Anything with the Strut. I've checked a bunch of them out of my local library. Rough Guides can be a mixed bag. nearly all of Fela's recordings are currently available with great sound. Forced into liquidation in 2003. I'd start there again. but haven't done enough to give me a feel for them (Afrodisiac's lack of liners is infuriating. and albums that get their own disc always include a few previously unreleased extras. Smaller labels like Afrodisiac and Evolver have some interesting comps out. but the quality is always tops. It has recently released World Psychedelic Classics 3: The Funky. Fela is also the exception that proves the rule: Thanks to an extensive and extremely well-done reissue campaign by MCA/Universal. The best I've heard are the Ethiopia volume (it borrows heavily from the Ethiopiques series) and retrospectives of Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar and Manu Dibango. . original artwork. Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa. the label was the best going during its too-brief existence. who have at least dabbled in Afrobeat. Also worth mentioning is Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's Rope-a-Dope label. or Harmless logo on it is worth buying. and if I had it to do over. 8. a powerhouse record and a defining moment for Afrobeat. with a few notes on each (extensive notes on some of the tracks are in the mix that follows). 1. And of course there's always David Byrne's Luaka Bop. Afrostrut. and doing it so incredibly well. and though "Expensive Shit" is phenomenal. a twofer of 1975 albums. but whose releases are usually up to high standards. it's a monster disc. Anything by Fela Fela released more than 50 albums in his tumultuous lifetime and approaching his catalogue is intimidating to say the least. you can't go wrong with Zombie. his most fertile period was the latter half of the 70s.Strut is a triumph and a tragedy. and 2. Consisting of five tracks. there are tons of other labels. many of them majors. Thankfully. whose African forays have been few so far. Others Obviously. which is a great comp. all more than 10 minutes long. and newer labels like World Village are starting to break groups like the great Saharan guitar band Tinariwen. To put a broad point on it. too). which has an interesting stable of artists. though it's not wholly focused on the revival Afrobeat sound that the band does so well. Most albums are paired with another. but it also uncovers some interesting things and is worth a listen. I started with Expensive Shit/He Miss Road. no questions asked. Despite its whole catalogue being out of print. >>  Essential Recordings This is a list of 12 releases that would make what I view to be the perfect introductory Afropop collection. one of Fela's best tracks. Strut also warrants a mention here for being one of the first labels to really tackle Afrobeat. because it's a great introduction to Fela's big sound and epic track lengths. For a second Fela disc. and good liners. the original LP flip side "Water No Get Enemy" is even better. but it's genuinely difficult to come across a Fela record that doesn't make the grade.
Ghana Sounds: Afrobeat. and I apologize for that. but it's such an incredible compilation that I'd be remiss not to mention it. and Nigeria in the 70s. 6. Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis [Buda Musique] Volumes 1 and 3 are excellent and cover the same period and different songs by many of the same artists. Afrobeat. The songs here range from spare. It's a great record that needs to be back in print as soon as possible. defining pieces of African pop. "Heavy Heavy Heavy". and now it's meticulously working on Nigeria. Strut's reissue is simple and informative and crucially adds the "Ijo Soul" and "Olulofe" singles. but plenty of basic information is missing. Sound Way unearthed a motherload in Ghana. and I credit it as the recording that got me into Afrobeat. 5. because the music rips. If you see it. 2002] The spotty liners try to be informative. pay any price. but the music here is all over the map. r: Strut] This is a defining album. Girma Beyene's "Ene Negn Bay Manesh" gets things going with an entrancing horn arrangement. 2003] I reviewed this for Pitchfork. Volume 1 [Evolver/DMI/Kona. informative book of liners apparently weren't enough. I lucked into a $17 dollar copy at Amoeba Music while visiting friends in San Francisco. There is no weak track among the 14 gems of Ghanaian funk here. with plenty of points in between. This covers the full range of Nigerian funk and soul in the 70s. Volume 2 is almost equally amazing. but Ethiopiques 8 is perfect from front to back. Ginger Baker (the interview with him is downright hilarious). this is not to be missed. and one of the first African pop records to break away from the highlife/Juju/soukous molds. Afro-Rock. though. 2002] This is one of three items on this list that's currently out of print. and I hope there's more on the way. Afro-Baby: The Evolution of the Afro-Sound in Nigeria 1970-79 [Sound Way. with an especially nice early Fela track. 8. you'd have to be listening with a stethoscope to notice. as the compilers included a third disc of audio documentaries about Fela. This disc makes a good case that Addis Ababa had one of the best scenes in the world from 1969-1975. though. Funk & Fusion in '70s Ghana [Sound Way. 4. the only track I've been able to find by Sierra Leonan . almost traditional-sounding funk to thumping. gritty disco. Not a big deal. some seeing release for the first time ever. Unremittingly funky and covering a ridiculous breadth of sounds and approaches. Liners are superb. and it's not hard to believe it. Two discs packed solid with outstanding music and a beautiful. Bring on Volume 2! 7. Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces: Super Afro Soul [Phonogram Nigeria. Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos [Strut. and many of them are among my absolute favorite songs.3. 1966. 2005] First. from Lemma Demissew's Fats Domino-ish piano rock to Ayalew Mesfin's biting garage funk. It's said that "Ijo Soul" helped inspire James Brown's late 60s material. and though the label apologizes for having to master certain songs from vinyl sources. from Fela's early progressive highlife to ultra-heavy Hausa funk to the funky psychedelia of Blo and Joni Haastrup.
You get a bit of dub. from Tony Allen and Fela's son Femi. but there's plenty of other great stuff. their music was so unique it definitely fits the spirit. 9. The 2xCD compilation focuses on their early recordings. and "Talkin' Talkin'" by Matata. Movement (not sure where they're from on account of the lousy liners. a great Peter King track. with two corkers from Manu Dibango. 12. the best Kenyan funk track I've heard.makes it worthwhile alone. Ice. thrumming vibe for the horns to soak in. 10. which have a beguiling. and I suspect that none of it properly licensed. A few American funk artists found their way into the tracklisting. and though only a few of their songs could really be considered Afrobeat. It features a huge cast of stars from all over the world. dark.but the music on this disc is outstanding. and Oneness of Juju all have great songs on here.and it's all glorious. Afrodisiac have at least gone to the trouble of properly crediting the original publishers. 2003] I'm almost loathe to include this. 2002). or rock. 11. much of it by bands that only took one or two stabs at Afrobeat. but Bright Engelberts & the B. The textures on this record. walloping funk. and full of rough edges and unexpected twists. but no complaints: Lafayette Afro-Rock Band. roomsound ambience that's easy to get lost in. but they're obviously from an Anglophone country) get in two colossal funk tracks that have me thirsting for more. Ethiopiques 4: Ethio Jazz & Muzique Instrumentale 1969-1974 [Buda Musique] This Ethiopiques volume concentrates on Mulatu Astatque's instrumental music. though: Explosive Entertainment's budget Afro-Funk compilation gives no information at all beyond the artist and song title.superstar Geraldo Pino-. but the rhythm section deserves equal props for creating a mysterious. I'd also like to mention two recent charitable compilations that I think are both worth listening to and important for the funds they provide to relief organizations. some aggressive soul. and the funk is deep. are out of this world. Booniay!!: A Compilation of West African Funk [Afrodisiac. AfricaFunk: the Original Sound of 1970s Funky Africa [Harmless. The liners situation could be worse. and some extremely amped-up highlife-. The actual African selections are just as great. 1998] Harmless was the original label of the people responsible for Strut. for one thing-.E.who with his Heartbeats band was one of Africa's first homegrown funk/soul stars-. funk. The first is Red Hot & Riot (MCA. 2005] Guinea's Bembeya Jazz were one of the greatest dance orchestras of West Africa. and this compilation is excellent. and it's a trip.it's over-compressed. a Fela tribute that benefits small organizations in Africa trying to fight back the grim tide of AIDS (infection rates are near 50% in many southern African countries and recent trends in Uganda show that even countries with successful anti-AIDS programs are susceptible to backsliding). because there's next to no information in the liners and the remastering is somewhat questionable-. Fela's "Expensive Shit". Bembeya Jazz National: the Syliphone Years [Stern's Africa. I can't say enough about guitarist Sekou Diabate's sinuous playing. an important modern Afrobeat . drawn mostly from two different albums released in the early 70s. Several tracks from Ghanaian eccentric Gyedu Blay-Ambolley form the meat of it.
Enjoy. but they fit too well to deny them a place on these discs. 1977) Available on Zombie (MCA/Universal). Just released is ASAP: The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (Mobida). Only two of these songs aren't by African musicians-. Mixmaster Mike. so I made seven mix CDs for the car-. ************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-01-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 101. The interlocking guitars stay on the same ostinato for more than 12 minutes as the horns surge around them. an excellent mix of American Afrobeat bands like Antibalas and Kokolo and modern African artists like Dele Sosimi and Keziah Jones. plus a vinyl-only bonus track make up this mix. you have to test them on the road. when it's available to me. building to Fela's wild drill sergeant commands: "Fall in!/ Fall out!/ Fall down!/ Get ready!" Tony Allen's brilliant drumming deserves a blurb to itself-. and manic energy.exponent in his own right. AFRICA 100 BOX: TRACK-BY-TRACK -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you're knee-deep in funk records. and Senegalese rappers Positive Black Soul. His baritone growl drips with spite for Nigeria's junta and its loyal army. but he still injects biting humor when he wraps up the first verse by singing. along with country of origin and year of production. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------III. I've offered some notes on every track. but without his . with Fela at the peak of his powers and Africa '70 sharp as daggers. blindsiding avalanches of sax. "Zombie no go turn unless you tell him to turn/ Zombie no go tinkle unless you tell him to tinkle. Fela's brilliant arrangement is full of unexpected gaps." The verses grow increasingly frantic as the song progresses. Proceeds benefit Darfur aid initiatives. The Best Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal). and he accents so many strange parts of the beat that it's a wonder he even knows where he is. I've also tried to note many of the places the song has appeared up on records available outside of Africa. Blackalicious. Archie Shepp. to Jorge Ben. a hypnotic choir. Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa '70: "Zombie" (Nigeria.99 tracks and almost nine hours of music. Music Is the Weapon: The Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal) and Black Man's Cry (Shanachie) "Zombie" is top-flight Afrobeat.the kick drum is almost completely independent from everything else he's doing.Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's "Big Man" and Kokolo's "Mister Sinister" may be by American bands.
(Sound Way) There aren't many songs where just the drum fill is awesome.it's altered states via ancient Coptic churches carved in solid stone. but really. The Africa '70 was coming apart at the seams in 1977." >> 105. voluminous horns. >> 104. the funky beat swings. but he deserves another look. Perfect and absolutely essential. this just slams. >> 103. but the song's dark. Saxophones dart from side-to-side avoiding stabbing. Marijata: "Mother Africa" (Ghana. and a bit of solo trading. Beyene's whispered vocal delivery burns with quiet intensity and Mulatu Astatque's vibes wrap them in dense. "La La La" is a simple soul number with a booming bassline and catchy "la la la" chorus. The organ could have fit on Pink Floyd's A Saucerful of Secrets. Girma Beyene: "Set Alamenem" (Ethiopia. It could give the JB's a good run for their money any day. a sort of miniaturized take on Fela's cinemascope big-band funk. a sweet syncopated horn arrangement riding a hard groove. unhurried atmosphere. I'd get into the intricacies of the composition or something. A clattering pile of percussion starts at a frantic tempo. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) and Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata (Gapophone) This is about as thick and pure as funk gets. and there's nothing better in the world to drive to. Oscar Sulley & the Uhuru Dance Band: "Bukom Mashie" (Ghana. .technique. 1969) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) This is the sound of smoke wafting through the air in some Addis Ababa nightspot-. some tasteful lead guitar. but you can't tell as Fela leads the band into the final swell with a mocking rendition of "reveille Some protest music skirts around the issue with poetics or makes whining pleas for generic change. 1973) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana. >> 102.you can almost hear the drinks clinking in the background. but Bucknor's delivery of the lines "My heart is filled with rain/ All I've got is shame" is devastating. Sax and flute solos and chanting vocals are all swept up in Sulley's wild arrangement. 1976) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. but this is one of them. bobbing up and down like a car with soft suspension. year unknown) Available on Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) and Poor Man No Get Brother: Assembly & Revolution 1965-1975 (Strut) Strut's amazing Bucknor retrospective went out of print when the label went out of business. Segun Bucknor & His Revolution: "La La La" (Nigeria. the song wouldn't get anywhere. "Zombie" hits like a satirical hammer you can dance to. and then that simple fill ushers in a staggering bass line. luxuriant sprawl is different from a traditional understanding of psychedelia-. with the bass strangely mixed almost as high as the vocals.
when the Sound Way folks scooped the weathered masters off a pressing plant shelf. >> 108. or the fact that one of the horn riffs essentially predicts Sam & Dave's "Soul Man". Matata: "Talkin' Talkin'" (Kenya. modulating unexpectedly for the choruses. >> 106. It's a crime that this is the only Pino track available. deep bass and whirring organ that rockets along. >> 109.heavy funk full of slamming kick drum. >> 107. touring with his Heartbeats band across the region and inspiring dozens of young bands.It's amazing that it was never released until 2003. funk. Geraldo Pino: "Heavy Heavy Heavy" (Sierra Leone. Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces: "Ijo Soul" (Nigeria. The thousand-watt horns blare so brightly you can feel the air passing over the curved brass. and "Love's a Real Thing" is a fantastic slice of psychedelic soul that earns the Sgt. but the layered lead vocals and screaming chorus of this song make for their finest moment to my ears. which Strut helpfully appended to the album on their excellent reissue. funk does not get any grittier than this. "Heavy Heavy Heavy" is just that-. Super Eagles: "Love's a Real Thing" (Gambia. The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop). Sulley now leads Ghana's national symphony orchestra and teaches percussion to poor children in Accra. it's hard not to notice the structural similarity to Brown's "I Feel Good". 1966) Available on Super Afro Soul (Strut) Orlando Julius' Super Afro Soul is a milestone of African popular music and is said to have influenced some of James Brown's late 60s output. Listening to this contemporaneous single. nasty delight. year unknown) Available on Afro-Rock. a Cuban-influenced precursor to Youssou N'Dour and Etoile de Dakar's mbalax music. World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing. Pepper's uniforms they were famous for wearing. they played a style called Ndangga. Volume 1 (Evolver) Sierra Leone's Geraldo Pino was one of the first successful West African musicians to pattern himself on American soul and funk. More typically. or soul. This is good-time early African funk and one of the most important songs that almost nobody's ever heard. Senegambian Sensation (Retro Afric') Gambia's Super Eagles were one of many West African bands who specialized in an older style of music that tried their hand at rock. but Matata were truly world-class. The bass and drums are tough as rawhide and the lead vocal is a dirty. 1972) Available on Viva Super Eagles (Decca). 1973) Available on AfricaFunk: The Original Sound of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless) Sweet mother popcorn. filthy. Kenya only produced a few notable funk bands in the 70s. .
Ayalew Mesfin: "Hasabe" (Ethiopia. turning luminaries like John Coltrane. >> 113. Vol. though.to think that this came from a government-controlled orchestra is mindblowing. Pharoah Sanders. even speedy funk like Khoza's "African Jive" has a smoothness that can be off-putting. and the track gains energy as it goes along. and Miles Davis on to the music of their ancestors. Well. and blaring horns on this instrumental do plenty to offset that. Drums of Passion is the record that many credit with inaugurating the "world music" industry. Apartheid was no doubt a part of it. but Olatunji's traditional version is every bit as thrilling. >> 111.>> 110. unstoppable rhythm. 1960) Available on Drums of Passion (Columbia/Legacy) People are more likely to know this one from Santana's cover version.the South African music industry was much better-funded than those in other African countries. Orchestra Baobab: "Mouhamadou Bamba" (Senegal. 1980) Available on Bamba (Stern's Africa) and The Rough Guide to Senegal and Gambia (Rough Guides) . dripping in reverb and tremolo. the barking vocals piling up on top of light-speed guitars. but you'd never know it from listening to this frantic rocker. which sounds like it's being piped in from Neptune. 1976) Available on Afrika Underground Jazz. The rhythm guitarist is sick on this track-. Funk & Fusion Under Apartheid (Counterpoint) and Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload from the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) Something about South Africa makes the music it produced in the 70s very different from the rest of the continent. and that's enthusiasm. despite coming up much shorter on ingredients. Babatunde Olatunji: "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba" (Nigeria. as does the track's overwhelming kinetic energy. Super Mambo 69: "Sweeper Soul" (country unknown. >> 114. 1 (Evolver) I've heard it said that Super Mambo weren't typically a soul band. but I think money was a bigger part-. and it was hugely influential in jazz circles. As a result. 1972) Available on Afro-Rock. >> 112. enthusiasm and rhythm. though. Dick Khoza: "African Jive" (South Africa. Gobs of ecstatic. The song's funky undercarriage is like some sort of perpetual motion machine. floods of Fender Rhodes. You could say the most important ingredient isn't even one you'd find in the liner notes. The weirdest thing about it is the lead guitar. The scrappy guitars. with a nasty fuzz guitar riff presaging a filthy funk throwdown full of stabbing horns and Mesfin's uniquely Ethiopian vocals. 1973) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) There's no sense beating around the bush: This song rips.
ring-modulated analog synth solos and interjections that give the instrumental its strange. Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra: "Big Man" (United States. Baobab were one of the best of the West African Afro-Cuban dance bands. but this is one of the few Angolan tracks I've heard that incorporates experimental elements. Getatchew Mekurya: "Yegenet Muziqa" (Ethiopia. 1974) Available on Angola 70s: 1974-1978 (Buda Musique) "Kazukuta" is the name of a traditional Angolan carnival dance. The vocals are layered and deeply reverent. and that's really saying something. volcanic lead guitar. but "Get Together" is a solid rocket ride from the opening horn fanfare all the way to its final reprise. year unknown) Available on Booniay!!: A Compilation of West African Funk (Afrodisiac) About the only thing I know about Brigth Engelberts is that he was one funky dude.Usually. but his solo material is some of the most unique music in the world. >> 115. Brigth Engelberts & the B. OK. Os Bongos: "Kazukuta" (Angola. >> 116. I can't find any decent information on the guy or his band. which is unusually funky for Angola to begin with.E. but a very good one. but it is incredibly odd nonetheless to hear a bizarre interlude like the reverb and delay-drenched vocal pile-up that dominates the middle of this song. The result is something akin to Albert Ayler. floating in leagues of reverb. but with the strange underpinning rhythms and electric organ of Ethiopian funk backing it up. but this title track from their 1980 album. but it's the weird. "experimental" is perhaps a bit of stretch. melismatic Ethiopian war chant called Shellela. >> 202. Movement: "Get Together" (country. quasi-futuristic edge. 1972) Available on Ethiopiques 14: Getachew Mekurya. His saxophone style is based on an improvised. A curiosity perhaps. Mekurya played in several of Ethiopia's orchestras and is heard backing the country's big stars on numerous recordings. named for a revered Islamic figure (Bamba was the founder of the Mouride sect and is esteemed before Mouhammed by many in West Africa). 2004) Available on Who Is This America? (Rope-a-Dope) . Negus of Ethiopian Sax (Buda Musique) Getatchew was something of an oddity in Ethiopia's Swinging Addis era. ************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-02-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 201. is a brooding slab of hip-deep psychedelic funk coated in Barthelemey Attisso's shimmering. The guitar and sax solos are sweet and economical.
Thony Shorby Nyenwi: "No Wrong Show" (Nigeria. >> 206. 1973) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Ogyatanaa (Burning Torch) was the outlet for the compositions of Kwadwo Donkoh. >> 205. and it's the kind of thing that probably would have been sampled about 80 times by now were it not for its total obscurity. Incredibly.his fingerprints are on dozens of the best Ghanaian Afrobeat and funk records and he's responsible for both the first instrumental LP released in West Africa (Keyboard Africa by Ray Ellis). wah-drenched "Voodoo Chile" guitar intro. successful dance orchestra specializing in highlife. Sound Way is the first label ever to issue it. and this is one of their best songs to date. Disco made major inroads to African funk in the late 70s. Antibalas began to move beyond an easy tag as near-religious Africa '70 revivalists.it would be easy to simply imitate vintage Afrobeat and come up with something halfway decent. The groove is feisty and the playing rich in detail-. one of Ghana's greatest producers and musical innovators-.On last year's Who Is This America?. Fela was never afraid to criticize the very people he was speaking in favor of. it's all about the beat on this one. and I hope there are a lot more where it came from. Wallias Band: "Muziqawi Silt" (Ethiopia. Ogyatanaa Show Band: "Disco Africa" (Ghana. Sulley. while Sulley's vocals belt with rough soul. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Another Sulley track from the vaults. The New York band have so thoroughly subsumed Fela's aesthetic into their collective being that they're now building on it.. "Disco Africa" rides a killer break and keeps the vocals low in the mix. but as this and their own recordings without Sulley (they were a band in their own right from the mid-60s to mid-80s) attest. deserves a volume to himself if there's enough material to fill it. >> 203. they were hugely versatile. 1976) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat. and "Big Man" is a masterful casting of the class divide between rich and poor in terms the king of Afrobeat would no doubt appreciate. meanwhile. 1978) Available on Afro Baby: the Evolution of the Afro Sound in Nigeria 1970-1979 (Sound Way) In spite of Nyenwi's understated. 1977) . >> 204. but these guys are the real deal. Oscar Sulley & the Uhuru Dance Band: "Olufeme" (Ghana. Antibalas aren't afraid to admit that consuming the products that enrich the wealthy helps keep them in power. Uhuru Dance Band was a long-running. slurred vocal. The massive horn arrangement sways and dives like a ton of bricks set teetering on a precipice. and likewise. The scratchy guitars and thumping drums do all of the heavy lifting for his odd. and this song is a good example of that influence making itself felt. just letting the groove do its thing. as well as the only known album of African Christmas songs.
The nagging guitar and bobbing rhythm section exude icy cool. featuring Ebo taylor. crashing cadences. this could be his theme song. Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa '70: "Roforofo Fight" (Nigeria. and an urgent. "Astawesalehu" is an Ethiopian "Ain't That a Shame". Two Sides of Fela: Jazz & Dance (Barclay). Wallias Band was led by Girma Beyene and was one of a few outfits that managed to have creative success in the Mengistu years. like the ultra-simple. >> 209. The rhythm comprises dozens of small components. The call-and-response vocals are infectious and unusually sunny for Ethiopian music. Muted guitars insist on forward . Lemma Demissew: "Astawesalehu" (Ethiopia. The Best Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal). 2: Return to the Original Sound of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless) "Roforofo Fight" is one of Fela's early masterworks. max) shrouds it in a mysterious. 1972) Available on Roforofo Fight/The Fela Singles (MCA/Universal). riding one of his trademark infinite grooves. vol. 1 (Exworld). This is a killer Ethio-groove instrumental with a perfect. >> 207. 1974) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. vol. incredibly brief by Afrobeat standards. and member of the Uhuru Dance Band. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) "Kwaku Ananse" has all the hallmarks of great Ghanaian Afrobeat: Big. with Demissew's motoring piano powering a piece of sweet. lasting all the way through the extremely tumultuous 80s. propulsive beat designed to hold and release tension as needed. Apagya was something of a Ghanaian supergroup. 1968 or 69) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) Lemma Demissew was a pianist for several of the Ethiopian institutional bands. Music Is the Weapon of the Future. Gyedu Blay-Ambolley. repetitive bassline. Essential Afrobeat: The Very Best of Afrobeat 3CD Mix (Family Recordings). Apagya Show Band: "Kwaku Ananse" (Ghana. this could slot in pretty well on any oldies station's playlist. unique mix of sleek soul and deep. and on his own he has a bizarre resemblance to Fats Domino. Music Is the Weapon: The Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal). and the lo-fi recording (two microphones.Available on Ethiopiques 13: Ethiopian Groove (Buda Musique) and The Rough Guide to Ethiopia (Rough Guides) If James Bond were named Alemayehu and worked for the Negus instead of the Queen. and the song swaggers swiftly along for an economical three minutes. hovering electric organs mixing with tight horns. and if American radio conglomerates were willing to overlook the fact that it's sung in Amharic. old-timey rock'n'roll that was likely created with only the barest of knowledge of what that actually sounded like. dark horns only Addis Ababa seems capable of turning out. >> 208. and AfricaFunk. a ton of percussionists mingling in polyrhythmic conversation. Bob Pinado. majestic veil that no slick recording could ever capture. with claves and shaker guiding Tony Allen's across-the-beat drumwork.
It's crushing. Monomono: "Tire Loma Da Nigbehin" (Nigeria. funky acid rock and truly amazing stuff. and sharply strummed guitars. The horns are right out in your face. >> 212. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Joe Mensah's jazz influence is clear on "Africa Is Home". The narrative basically speaks of how two men fighting makes a fool of both men. bubbling organ. Lijadu Sisters: "Orere Eljigbo" (Nigeria. >> 213. with an especially catchy sax ostinato backing up the melodic solos at the end. >> 210. That epic horn arrangement is what really makes this cook. though. "Tire Loma Da Nigbehin" rides that deep funk base. The sisters had toured with Ginger Baker's Salt and can be heard on a great many Nigerian recordings of the 70s and 80s. 1979) Available on Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) and Essential Afrobeat: the Very Best of Afrobeat 3CD Mix (Family Recordings) "Get Out/ Fight/ Trouble in the streets" is the rallying cry the Lijadu Sisters use to open this discoinfluenced song. the Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop) and Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) Ofo's biggest hit may feature lyrics exalting God. and they played deep funk full of harmony vocals. coloring the edges with psychedelic flourishes in a prime example of the melting pot that West African popular music was in the 70s. whose story of a couple attempting to have a child . Joe Mensah: "Africa Is Home" (Ghana. though. and the female backing vocals' intonation of "home sweet home" has a nearly doo wop feel to it. and both the drums and congas play fast and loose with the rhythms. presaging the powerful horn themes with a strange bilingual monologue about trousers and pants that he would later build into a full-bodied metaphor for colonial oppression on Original Suffer Head's "Equalisation of Trouser and Pant". and Fela uncharacteristically takes the mic at the beginning of the song. spilling out in scat passages and ignoring the boundaries between English and Yoruba. but the holy racket they churn out here is more commonly associated with the man downstairs. This is ridiculously heavy.motion and even the horns settle into riffs. 1972) Available on World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing. Fela's vocals are twitchy and frenetic. 1974) Available on Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) Monomono was led by the great Joni Haastrup. riding a distorted guitar figure and pounding drums and the lead guitars and organ wail away. This song. Ofo the Black Company: "Allah Wakbarr" (Nigeria. >> 211. 1975) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat.
1977) Available on Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) . 1976) Available on The Syliphone Years (Stern's Africa) Bembeya cut a huge number of stunning records.2. bassline. Between the verses. Joni Haastrup: "Greetings" (Nigeria. Jingo: "Fever" (country unknown. giving the song undeniable forward momentum. Diabate's guitar burns with the tone of Robert Fripp and the intensity of Eddie Hazel. In the blues sections. baby/ Oh-ah-oh can you dance?/ We call it Simigwa/ I'm gonna show you how to do it. because Gyedu spells it out pretty clearly: "1. Volume 1 (Evolver) "Fever" puts its polyrhythm right out front. Gyedu Blay-Ambolley & the Steneboofs: "Simigwado" (Ghana. and it's a wonder it hasn't shown up in more places.3. An instrumental featuring Sekou Diabate's guitar front and center. a grunting. even more remarkable given that it's unlikely Diabate knew who either man was. so it's difficult to convey just how infectious this song is. nor his Fanti rapping. I can't figure out how to transcribe all of the funky little vocalizations Gyedu Blay makes on "Simigwado". The vocal melody. 1974) Available on Afro-Rock. layering a 6/8 chakachas beat over a thumping 4/4 funk groove.without success is typical of many African popular songs in its use of everyday drama to point out inadequacies in society at large. This is a jaw-dropping piece of music. and the listener comes out on top. though they had no idea what it was actually about. but this may be the best. Turns out anyone who speaks English will learn pretty quickly that it's a dance. ************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-03-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 301. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Unfortunately. yeah" before the colossal horn arrangement kicks in. Bembeya Jazz National: "Petit Sekou" (Guinea. 1973) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. >> 214. >> 302. >> 303. amply demonstrates that they were capable of striking gold on their own. and horn arrangement are all syncopated differently. screaming Jingo duels it out with the free-flowing solos of one his sax players. The song was banned for being obscene by Ghanaian authorities. it slinks through bluesy verses and cuts on a dime into unexpected swing passages.
aside from the effects and samples. His organ solo is spectacular. with big harmonies that could have fit nicely on a Yardbirds record. the recording is straightforward midtempo funk with impressive sax and guitar solos. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) "Psychedelic" was a world-wide buzzword in its day.Joni Hasstrup (I've also seen it spelled Johnny) was a well-traveled individual. which is kind of surprising given that Jamaican music otherwise had a broad influence on West Africa. he was a sharp songwriter. 1973) Available on Ethiopiques 17: Tlahoun Gessesse (Buda Musique) and Ihe Rough Guide to Ethiopia (Rough Guides) . On his own. leading several Nigerian rock and funk bands during the 60s and 70s and joining Ginger Baker's sadly short-lived Salt project. including the Apollo and Star Hotel. Ghanaian session keyboardist Ernest Honny runs down the exploits of the psychedelic men and women of Accra in all of the hottest nightpots. It's a stunning collision of Western and African music in which both get their big moments. but this still could have lit up an American disco in '78. and on one of his few solo tracks. which wasn't actually as big a stretch as it might sound. Strange swirling noises and a disembodied woman's voice hover over the band's solid base of breezy funk. a half British/half African band that attempted to wed UK rock to Afrobeat. 1972) Available on Phases: 1972-1982 (AfroStrut). >> 306. 1973) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. Volume 1 (Evolver) This is one of only a couple vintage African dub tracks I've heard. Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload From the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) and Blo: Chapter One (EMI Nigeria) Blo's Phases retrospective is sadly out of print now (RIP Strut). but we're not quite in Lee Perry territory-. Haastrup's soulful vocals tower over the recording. Blo: "Blo" (Nigeria. The Nigerian band played a distinctly hard brand of psychedelic funk. >> 304. year unknown) Available on Afro-Rock. and it's even more incredible when you consider that the song is a full quarter of all his recorded output. but hopefully somebody will resurrect it soon. but the song is probably most notable for slipping from a slow Afrobeat verse into a massive mod chorus. The arrangement is full of clever details and unexpected start/stop passages. dripping with reverb in an otherwise dry mix. and "Greetings" is an absolute dancefloor killer with a monster bassline. Yahoos: "Mabala" (country. and guitarist Berkley "ike" Jones' solo positively rips. It's sung in Yoruba. Tlahoun Gessesse: "Alegntaye" (Ethiopia. >> 307. and their signature song is drenched in organ and wah pedal. with a minimum of stereo trickery and other deep dub trademarks. Honny & the Bees Band: "Psychedelic Woman" (Ghana. >> 305.
He switches to his ever-present Rhodes piano during the vocal sections. mix by DJ Djinji Brown (Uncle Junior) and Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload From the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) You can't get much more upbeat than this tune from Cameroon's greatest star. "I be Africa man original. His "Cubano Fiestas". 1977) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. fluid soloist. Manu Dibango: "African Battle" (Cameroon. but it shows up now and then. wah'd-out guitar works nicely as a searching sonic analogue to Gessesse's pleas: "Where can I find you?/ I am all mixed up/ Where are you hiding. and the instrument's mellow tone in its lowest register has a strangely cooling effect on the hot midtempo groove the band generates. Astatque's midnight funky aesthetic is deeply alluring." he sings. a prolific and quite capable band in their own right. "African Battle" features trumpets . An instrumental featuring a massive horn arrangement and a cliff-diving bassline. 2 (Exworks) Fela was sent by his parents to Britain to study medicine. >> 309. 1973) Available on Confusion/Gentleman (MCA/Universal). while the bounding. The song's Cuban feel comes mostly in the vocals and chord progression. "Alegntaye" means "My Hope". though Western ears would have a tough time reading a tender song of yearning into Gessesse's mind-blowing melismatic vocals and Mulatu Astatque's inky arrangement." >> 308. "I no be gentleman at all. where he solos on his tenor over most of the song's nineminute intro. having performed with all the big institutional bands in the 50s and 60s. Frimpong was one of Ghana's most innovative guitar players. Fela's lyric is one of his many anti-colonial ruminations decrying Africans' adoption of Western cultural norms. including a beautiful solo passage where the rhythm section lays out entirely. the album cover features an ape in a three-piece suit. and the sputtering. ridiculing Europeans' concept of social class. >> 310. but he was more interested in playing jazz and highlife and we're all better off for it. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas: "Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena" (Ghana. anti-gravity rhythms are all Ghanaian Afrobeat. as they're credited here. Vol. though.Tlahoun Gessesse was one of Ethiopia's biggest stars." To drive home the point. the title track from one of his 1973 albums. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Cuban music had more of an impact on Africa's far western coast than it did along the southern coast of West Africa. Uncle Junior's Friday Fish Fry. The Best Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal) (edit). slyly funky and a skilled. were actually Vis-à-vis. His jazz influence comes through very strongly on "Gentleman". K. my love?/ Show yourself. K. I miss you. Music Is the Weapon: The Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal) (edit) and Music Is the Weapon of the Future. 1973 or 74) Available on AfricaFunk: The Original Sound of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless). Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa '70: "Gentleman" (Nigeria. and he had one of the country's most prolific recording careers in the years leading up to the overthrow of Haile Selassie and the death of Ethiopia's most vitally creative period.
but this track from his 1989 album Addis Ababa is crazier than anything he did in his heyday. ************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-04-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 401. adding extra funk to what amounts to a killer African New Wave track. Shina Williams & His African Percussionists: "Agboju Logun" (12-inch mix) (Nigeria. and Orlando Julius' AfroSounders. Talking drums exhale along with sleek horn sections. distinctive voice. It's over in less than three minutes.blaring at the top of their range and Dibango's own flashy sax work as well as an army of conga players. Alemayehu Eshete was one of Ethiopia's biggest stars and best performers during the golden years of Ethiopian music. baby. subtly funky groove that blows up when he gets to the huge refrain. A lot of French prog tried really hard in the 70s to be this frightening. it would also be the best track. The song rides a positively evil piano part. and it features former members of Monomono. and it doesn't get much more straightforward than that. with drums functioning merely as a rhythmic guide. >> 311. Alemayehu Eshete: "Addis Ababa Bete" (Ethiopia. Funk and Fusion in 70s Ghana (Sound Way) "Me. tense figure that nags at Eshete's twisting. You. Pinado had a powerful. >> 312. but what a ride. 1976) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat. you. Williams himself was better known as Juju star King Sunny Ade's manager. Bob Pinado & His Sound Casters: "Me. but the groove here is an irresistible post-disco lockgroove stuffed with muted guitars and breathy female vocals. This is actually the 12-inch mix of a 1984 song. One (Means I Love You)" (Ghana. but this beats it all. The song has a chilled. 1984) Available on Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) Does ZE Records know about this Shina Williams track? Because not only would it fit pretty nicely on any of their Mutant Disco compilations. means I love you. simultaneous solos. Africa '70. The horn section plays a repetitive. Koola Lobitos: "Highlife Time" (Nigeria. >> 402. 1989) Available on Addis Ababa (Shanachie) and The Rough Guide to Ethiopia (Rough Guides) Ethiopia's Swinging Addis scene came to a sad close in the 70s. 1965) Available on Koola Lobitos/The '69 LA Sessions (MCA Universal) . and he uses every bit of that power on this track. wildly melismatic vocal part. but many of its exponents continued on. one." sings Pinado. making it something of a Nigerian super-session. splitting up at the end into crazed.
then why wouldn't he jump for joy? It is highlife time after all. Vol. Mensah & His Tempos Band: "205" (Ghana. a positively gargantuan orchestration that saturates the tape when it comes in. but it sounds utterly effortless and the horn arrangement is a bouncy. E.T. the singer announces "I am gonna' speak English now/ For the benefit of everybody. they did a damn good job of it. very common in the genre. 1 (Evolver) Much like the track that precedes it on this disc. Fela hadn't yet been introduced to black radicalism. nor been disillusioned by the Biafran War. "Envy No Good" is naturally a pidgin English bit of stern moralizing. late 1950s) Available on Day By Day (Retro Afric') E." And then he launches into a diatribe about money's corrupting influence. >> 404. year unknown) Available on Afro-Rock. when the post-colonial promise still hung in the air and highlife still ruled in West Africa.skillfully composed. catchy as hell. Mercury Dance Band: "Envy No Good" (country. 3rd Generation Band: "Because of Money" (Ghana. . Mahmoud Ahmed: "Mar Teb Yelal Kafesh" (Ethiopia. crashing horn arrangement. and it's fascinating to hear how exuberant he was on this formative material. ornamenting the honey-sweet melody with that characteristic Ethiopian melisma. Mensah was the king of highlife. but this band was actually a highlife group affiliated with the Ghanaian army! Even if they were (ironically) just cashing in on Fela's massive popularity. and brilliantly arranged. He's singing in Twi. 1973) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat." but. undertaken after the band took in a concert by Fela and the Africa '70. "Envy No Good" is a highlife orchestras stab at Afrobeat. The arrangement makes skillful use of rhythmic variation and modulation to make it feel like each verse is more exultant than the last. but this song is all about the thick. >> 403. >> 405. a brutal conflict that nearly tore his country to shreds. it's almost amusing to hear Fela singing.a few minutes in. 1975) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) "Mar Teb Yelal Kafesh" is Ethiopian funk-pop at its best-.T. offer a countermelody in the B and crash the gates in the rumbling transitions between sections. and songs like "205" make it clear why. This is a killer Afrobeat track laid over a bed of hypnotic percussion. The horns emphasize the offbeats in the A section. and Ahmed's voice is more than up to the task. Funk and Fusion in 70s Ghana (Sound Way) The 3rd Generation Band's "Because of Money" is extremely blunt in its criticism of monetary greed-. >> 406. fruity thing that bounds along on a peppy Caribbean/jazz beat complete with a swinging bassline. "I jump for joy in the swinging club. one of about a dozen languages in which he recorded.Being familiar with his later material.
The horn arrangement is bold and dramatic. Lekan Animashaun: "Serere" (Nigeria. leaping off into flights of melodic fancy with seemingly no effort. and it's clear that Fela's musicians shared more than just musical direction with him. It's still got a hard horn arrangement. but Fela served an extended prison term on trumped-up currency charges in the mid-80s and Low Profile was finally released in 1995. >> 408. 1977) Available on Ethiopiques 13: Ethiopian Groove (Buda Musique) This is one of a handful of Kaifa Records recordings to see release in Ethiopia's early derg period. and completely unhinged lead vocal. Bembeya Jazz National: "N'Garokomo" (Guinea. an era of horrible repression by Mengistu's communist government. culminating in a rare. Recording was finished in 1986. >> 410. Dick Khoza: "Chapita" (South Africa. this one catchier and poppier than "Talkin' Talkin'". Ferendji's vocal style doesn't go as frequently to the billowing melisma of many of his colleagues. His only album under his own name has a convoluted history: Composed in the mid-70s. and "Serere" is the truly stunning track from side two. recorded 1979. from Koola Lobitos to Egypt '80. though it promptly went out of print. excellent flute solo. >> 409. The song riding a pounding. Honest Jon's has brought it back now. providing the crunching lowend for every one of Fela's bands. four-on-thefloor beat topped with fluttering organ and a swaying horn section. something that may make it easier from a lot of Westerners to dig his stuff straight off. a part that cycles over and over like a spinning wheel. Thankfully. dirty groove. early 70s) Available on Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload From the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) Another burning chunk of nasty funk from the Kenyan masters. Big Mouth: Tunde Williams Plays with Africa '70 (Honest Jon's) Baritone saxophonist Lekan Animashaun was Fela's most loyal sideman. and you've got to think James Brown would have been proud to call this one his own. though. it was partially recorded during the turbulent days at the end of the decade. with plenty of solo trading and a mind-bending guitar part from Sekou Diabate. Tamrat Ferendji & Sensation Band: "Antchin Yagegnulet" (Ethiopia. >> 411. which is now fronted by Fela's son Seun. released 1995) Available on the split release Lekan Animashaun: Low Profile/Mr.>> 407. overdubs 1986. 1976) . featuring call and response phrases that Fela then imitates on his Rhodes piano. Matata: "Wanna Do My Thing" (Kenya. "If you want to get justice/ You must practice justice" he sings. 1973) Available on The Syliphone Years (Stern's Africa) Bembeya gets funky and the result is a 10-minute odyssey through a sort of alternative reality Afrobeat world. after the Africa '70 had dissolved and Fela had set about gathering the musicians for Egypt '80.
and "Mister Sinister" rides a galloping beat with an elastic horn arrangement. Khoza's vocal is a weird. but it's a hell of a beat and together with the scratchy rhythm guitar. ASAP: Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (Mobida Productions) The lead vocals don't really convince me. grounded by a truly righteous baritone sax part. Frequently. repetitive bass line. Kidane was a well-traveled session saxophonist in Ethiopia. Funk & Fusion Under Apartheid (Counterpoint) and Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload From the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) "Chapita" features a pretty nasty beat for a South African funk track. The New York-based Afrobeat revival is full of musicians who obviously have listened to every detail of every Fela record they could get their hands on. The instrumental bridges are nice crawling funk workouts. . Tlahoun Gessesse: "Aykedashem Lebe" (Ethiopia. and the backing vocals are spot-on.dark but undeniably funky. but otherwise. drawn-out recitation of the title by his backing singers. layering tightly scored horns on top of it. 1972) Available of Ethiopiques 4: Ethio Jazz & Instrumentals (Buda Musique) Mulatu Astatque's instrumental music has a sound all its own-. but he actually takes a shorter solo than the guitarist. along with everything else about this track. This adds a bit of funk to that equation. 1974) Available on Ethiopiques 17: Tlahoun Gessesse (Buda Musique) Gessesse really cuts loose on this song. but they're passable. Mulatu Astatque: "Kasalefkut Hulu" (Ethiopia. it's a big band playing round with a blues progression and evidently having a lot of fun doing it.Available on Afrika Underground: Jazz. >> 414. Kokolo: "Mister Sinister" (United States. >> 412. and he talks more than he sings. it's a concrete-solid groove. and the effect is like Duke Ellington dropping in on an Addis Ababa nightclub with an armful of charts. an uptempo Ethio-funk banger that answers his falsetto howls with stabbing horns and tweaked-out organ interjections. but it's the unexpected harmony vocals that deliver a totally new verse nearly five minutes in that complete the song. >> 415. baritone drawl. The drum break is low in the mix as usual with Ethiopian recordings. those early instrumentals are just the band playing the blues progression and maybe soloing a bit over it. 1969) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) This instrumental is sort of an Ethiopian spin on the blues-based instrumentals of early rock'n'roll. and the contrast with the smooth sax lick is welcome. Tesfa Maryam Kidane: "Yetesfa Tezeta" (Ethiopia. This one rides a buoyant. perhaps not wanting to show off too much. >> 413. If you think about it. 2004) Available on More Consideration (Ray Lugo). backed by a long. that's all "Wipe-out" is.
Mostly instrumental. and tight rhythm. The Beginner's Guide to World Music. and the band offers a propulsive funk backing for Masakela's always-melodic flights. 1972) Available on dozens of releases. . Manu Dibango: "Soul Makossa" (Cameroon. The vocals are taken in a loose group-. fractured sax line. Very Best of Manu Dibango: AfroSoulJazz (Manteca) and various artists compilations such as Essential Afrobeat: The Very Best of Afrobeat 3CD Mix (Family Recordings). but it had to be the 70s.-. including Dibango: Soul Makossa (Unidisc). year unknown) Available on Club Africa 2 (Strut) and Hugh Masakela & the Union of South Africa (reissued Motown) I'm a little unclear on when exactly this song was first released. Anthology (Eagle). Taylor's guitar is placed low in the mix. Taylor's four albums are all split between popular highlife fare on side one and his totally unique brand of Afrobeat on side two. Ebo Taylor: "Heaven" (Ghana. In fact. highlife-ish part.they're so tight that the backing vocals almost sound like chorused delay at times. The South African ex-pat's fluent trumpet playing is a highlight.a rarity for an African artist-.and still gets a spin now and then in the clubs of New York. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) "Heaven" is the most weightless funk track I know. 2 (Nascente) and Crooklyn. Hugh Masakela & the Union of South Africa: "Dyambo" (South Africa. Vol.S.not so much harmony as a big sing-a-long. wah'd-out funk part. This track features a percussive horn attack and some great call-and-response vocals-. 2 (MCA) With its nasty. Africadelic: The Best of Manu Dibango (Wrasse). they're subsumed into the mix in such a way that they become another part of the texture. Vol.************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-05-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 501. Afrika Bambaataa covered it and sampled it on his last record. sounding almost as though it's floating up to its titular destination. and by the end of the jam that swallows the middle of the song. thumping beat. one a squelchy. and it still sounds fantastic all these years later. it nevertheless features the infectious "mama-soul mama-ma mama-makossa" chant. The emphasis is all on the upbeats. 1977) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. >> 502. because funk hasn't sounded this good in any other decade. Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion (Shout! Factory). and it's truly a classic slice of funk. the other a clean-toned. "Soul Makossa" was a decent-sized hit in the U. >> 503. with congas and cowbell bobbing in a current of electric organ. with opposing parts playing in the left and right channels.
The solo trumpet melody blows in on the quickly shuffling beat like a lazy summer day. Make It Slow". Make it Slow" (Ghana. but this one flows easily from the back of the throat at odd times of the day. because the two tracks I've heard are jaw-dropping. 1977) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. The song has a totally unstoppable chorus. but that's what the repeat button is for.B. >> 505. A. 1976) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat. a reminder that funk doesn't have to be all nasty. punctuated by thrusting horns. 1978) Available on World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing. with Mesfin singing the title over and over. Something makes me bet that this is the only 70s Ghanaian sex jam you're ever likely to hear. For . Ayalew Mesfin & Black Lion Band: "Gud Aderegetchegn" (Ethiopia. and the band loved to just lay back and vamp on these killer grooves they created. Sweet Talks: "Kye Kye Pe Aware" (Ghana. syncopating it differently each time. chorused tone that makes me wonder if it's actually two guitars playing roughly in sync with each other. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Rob is apparently a pastor now.as Onyeabor makes clear through his lyrics. which admonish various world powers about their arrogance-. 1977) Available on Ethiopiques 13: Ethiopian Groove (Buda Musique) Black Lion Band were a powerhouse rhythm band. the Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop) and Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) The title of this song isn't about reversing a decision-. His heavy breathing.it's about changing the way we think about the world. and organ virtually take turns at emphasizing different beats. sinewy electric organ on top. slathering huge. Bahta Gebre Heywet: "Tessassategn Eko" (Ethiopia. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) The Sweet Talks' Kusum Beat album deserves a reissue to itself. leaves no ambiguity as to the meaning of "Make It Fast. snare. and I have to wonder what he thinks about his obscene vocal performance on this humid. Crentsil's vocals slid coolly into the rhythmic sluice of the music. >> 506. The band's rhythmic attack in the 70s was sickÐtheir drummer was a breakbeat maniac and they augmented it with a ton of traditional percussion. Most Ethiopian songs can't be casually hummed. >> 508. Rob: "Make it Fast. 1973) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) This is an exceptionally breezy Ethiopian pop song. William Onyeabor: "Better Change Your Mind" (Nigeria. and this song rampages on a swaying guitar riff and driving bass drums while Mesfin's vocal melody plays directly against the groove. The chunky beat marinates in a heavy sauce of trebly synthesizer. Its rhythm is so measured and languid that the bass. with doggedly consonant horn arrangement and a laid-back vocal by Heywet. trunk-rattling slow jam.>> 504. >> 507. and the guitar has a truly odd.
1976) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat." which in the dialect is directly akin to "die. not to mention the use of separate. >> 509. The beat is spare and spacious. as the Ghanaian Hausa community they were aimed at was generally too poor to won record players. Sahara All-Stars Band Jos: "Enjoy Yourself" (Nigeria. unconjugated "go" verbs placed before other verbs. The lyrics are in pidgin English. it was their loss. Christy Azuma & Uppers International: "Naam" (Ghana. 1973) Available on Almaz (Ahma) and Ethiopiques 6: Almaz (Buda Musique) "Kulun Mankwalesh" is actually a traditional wedding song that received numerous intriguing interpretations by various constituents of Swinging Addis. This one is from Almaz. and if the rest of Ghana didn't want to listen. based in the northern Nigerian City of Jos. and feature heavy use of the word "quench. and this is one of the best. Ahmed's second album. The record has an interesting suite-like structure where the songs flow easily into one another. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) Female stars are very rare in Afrobeat. Mahmoud Ahmed's first of an unequaled (in Ethiopia) four albums. bringing the first glimpse of swinging Addis to an unsuspecting world. horn-fueled rock tune that Eshete has his way with. Addis managed quite a few interesting recordings." Pidgin English is a fascinating evolution of language. and all are brimming with wah-drenched guitar and psychedelic flourishes of flute and organ. essentially ran Nigeria's Hausa funk scene and were its greatest exponent. year unknown) Available on Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) Sahara All-Stars. >> 512. percolating funk rhythm. well. Mahmoud Ahmed: "Kulun Mankwalesh" (Ethiopia. and it's interesting to hear how the grammatical structure of sentences differs from what we're used to. as it's a deeply complex nation and hardly the repository for starvation that most people .a scene that was being strangled to death in 1977. with a lacerating guitar part and a steady drum-and-conga break joined by an almost incongruously soft Rhodes piano. and then helps them do it. 1974) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) "Eskegizew Bertchi" is a funky. Anyway. became the first Ethiopian record distributed outside of the country when it was finally issued in Europe in 1985. She sings in a traditional head voice as the Uppers thrash along behind her with a tight. It's a shame Ethiopia has become a Sally Struthers grotesque in the minds of so many Westerners. 1975's Ere Mela Mela. Alemayehu Eshete: "Eskegizew Bertchi" (Ethiopia. splattering his wild vocals all over it. >> 510. and it would actually be kind of hard to call Christy Azuma a star-her records weren't even released in her own home country of Ghana. "Enjoy Yourself" warns listeners to get as much out of life as possible before the inevitable strikes. >> 511.
1978) Available on Salif Keita: the Best of the Early Years (Wrasse). here's a song about a guy in love. 1972) Available on Angola 70s: 1972-1973 (Buda Musique) . and it's an acknowledged classic of African music. 1971) Available on Afro-Funk Explosion: Motherload From the Motherland (Explosive Entertainment) and Assagai (Vertigo) Assagai are named for a spear generally associated with the Zulu militaries of the early colonial era. but their sound is a bit more relaxed than the name would have you believe. Part of the joy of getting into the music and exploring the varied work of a guy like Eshete-. riding a subtly funky groove and some beautiful lead guitar work. Les Ambassadeurs Internationale. and found himself left outside of the trappings of privileged life. The horn arrangements are slow and slurred. the vocals just as slow and perhaps as slurred-.but his work in the 70s is powerful stuff. He gravitated to music and wound up as a regular in Super Rail Band de Bamako. 1969-1980 (Sonodisc).is getting inside the mind of someone from a country whose population you're not expected to identify with. >> 513. ************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-06-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 601. He cut "Mandjou" with his second band.who was also a session bassist and a decent guitarist-. in 1978. this is slow-motion funk with an unusual piano underpinning and it's a good comedown from some of their more frenetic colleagues. The horn arrangement is deeply Cuban. considered a sign of bad luck in Mali. a voice that sounds as steadfastly Saharan as possible. Suddenly we're closer than we seemed.associate it so closely with. which puts it in a strange light next to Keita's instantly recognizable tenor. He's descended from royal lineage but was born albino. all the better for its raggedness. Mali's greatest band in the early 70s. >> 514. Lourdes Van Dunem: "Ngongo ya Biluka" (Angola. Frankly.I can't tell because I don't know what language they're in. the Golden Voice of Mali (Wrasse) Keita is often referred to as the Golden Voice of Mali. Best of Salif Keita. but to my ears. I haven't liked a thing Keita has done since Les Ambassadeurs-it's got that drum machine/Kawai preset Afro-pop sound that I can't stand-. You think Ethiopia's just a miserable den of anonymous poverty where photographers go to win their Pulitzers? Well. Assagai: "Cocoa" (country unknown. They called their music Afro-rock and even released an album under that title. Salif Keita: "Mandjou" (Mali. and he does have a pretty impressive set of pipes.
I've reached the point now where I can sing along to certain songs in Amharic. but this is still a sweet piece of rock-tinged funk. Peter King: "Mystery Tour" (Nigeria. The rhythms are tight. and if the music industries in countries like Benin and Cote D'Ivoire were underprivileged. in that vowels don't get their space. it at first sound like at least four words.two minutes of careening rhythms and frenzied but melodic organ that exude cool. and the guitar solos are interested in melody only insofar as it can lead to a freak-out. Guerilla: "La Popo" (country. year unknown) Available on The Danque!! (Afrodisiac) This intro is just to die for-. From what I can gather. >> 602. and it's a blast-. but at least we accept the very thought of an independent female performer. and today he runs a music school in his native Nigeria. and then you realize that "Yerefu" is being pronounced "Ee-yair-eh-foo" and it makes sense. The Shango in the album title was the Yoruban god of thunder and the mythical ancestor of all Yorubans. Amharic and Oromo-the country's two main languages-. there are lots of interesting recordings of the country's signature semba music (a quick-paced variant on Brazil's samba) and this is a personal favorite. Still. 1976) Available on Shango (AfroStrut) Peter King was a highly educated musician. the melody is infectious. then Angola's was outright deprived. Samuel Belay: "Aynotchesh Yerefu" (Ethiopia. >> 603. and as a result the phonetic interpretations we use are destined to be imperfect. When Belay belts out the title of this filthy funk tune. >> 604. It wasn't like that when Lourdes Van Dunem began her singing career in Angola. His sax playing darts and dives like it came off a bop record and the rhythm is pure.she was imprisoned for a time by the colonial government. one of his rawest. and it's not difficult to hear that King was trying to bring a little of his own thunder on the record. and there's even some mildly inventive lead guitar around the edges.Women in the Western music industry certainly have it tougher than men. And it didn't get any easier-. acting instead as modifiers on consonants.are also fairly guttural. . 1973) Available on Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) This song is a good example of the perils of translating Ethiopian phenomes into words Westerners can theoretically pronounce. the Ethiopian alphabet is much like Hebrew or Arabic.even if I have no idea what I'm saying. He has songs that I almost think there are songs that were held back by his extensive schooling. The vocals are so rough they occasionally sound like a roar. gutbucket funk that's miles into the jungle groove. "Mystery Tour" is not one of those songs. the only sound covered in reverb on an otherwise utterly dry recording. which may have caused him to smooth the compositional edges too much. carrying over only the intro's disco hi-hat. The rest of the song is almost a different beast entirely. then still under Portuguese rule (as it would be until 1976). It's too bad the intro never reprises.
crowned by "No Discrimination". The muted rhythm guitars and big choral call-and-response of Africa '70 are here. his drumming style was the engine of Africa '70. a song that's owned by his innovative beatmaking.the ebullience. >> 608. building to big. pushing Fela's arrangements and providing the pulse for his protests. and he seems like a natural for both-.>> 605.this time with a far more dramatic and pronounced horn arrangement. Johnson Mkhalali: "Joyce No. 1985) Available on The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Earthworks) Robert Christgau called The Indestructible Beat of Soweto the most important record of the 80s. 2" (South Africa. Still. and the horn theme rides roughshod over Taylor's trademark beat. Allen has continued his progressive path over the years. King of Juju: The Best of Sunny Ade (Wrasse). Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) and Eager Hands & Restless Feet: The Best of Tony Allen (Wrasse) Tony Allen is nearly as important a figure in Afrobeat as Fela. Tony Allen & His Afro Messengers: "No Discrimination" (Nigeria. the fluidity. he produced some thrilling stuff on his own. basically on account of the fact that he wasn't as accomplished at songwriting. and while I don't agree. >> 606. Candido Obajimi's vocal ranges from jazzy scatting to declarations of "Civilization" (answered by a chorus of "now him we want") and "Discrimination" (answered with "now him we don't want"). Allen's solo material is mostly not on the same level as his work with Fela. Funk & Fusion in 70's Ghana (Sound Way) This is more stratospheric funk from our man Ebo-. allowing Allen's drum kit to ground everything. branching out into hip-hop and electronic music. his distinctive drums breaks could provide all the beatmaking material a hip-hop DJ would need. Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) (instrumental version). I can see his point. the indestructible beat. Ebo Taylor: "Atwer Abroba" (Ghana. 1977) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat. This bouncy number is a guitar-led instrumental stuffed with wheezing accordion and borne on a four-on-the-floor stomp that showcases everything charming about the style-. King Sunny Ade & His African Beats: "Ja Funmi" (Nigeria. African Heartbeat: The Essential African Music Collection (Shanachie) . crashing cadences and then heading back to zero gravity. but the whole thing is looser. 1982) Available on Juju Music (Island Mango). >> 607. It's the first document of the mbaqanga music of South Africa's sprawling black townships to make it out of the country in large numbers.after all. and his endless rhythm concept applies quite readily to electronic dance music. the indomitable spirit. 1979) Available on No Accommodation For Lagos/No Discrimination (Evolver). Taylor seems like a guy whose full albums would be worth a long look if a sufficient source for remastering can be located. The thing kicks in with a quick hit on about 14 instruments at once.
It's not much of a leap between here and Remain in Light. lending it a freaky. Pacific Express: "the Way it Used to Be" (South Africa. 1982) Available on Volume 1 (Melodie). I don't really like Youssou N'Dour except for this song. >> 611. 1967) Available on In Concert/Pata Pata/Makeba! (Collectables) For some reason. .K. Truthfully. this has the big backing harmonies the characterized mbaqanga vocal tracks but adds a bizarre twist: The song is about a guy who is harassed for his money every day while walking home (not an uncommon dilemma in the townships). >> 609. and everything from his post-Peter Gabriel days (that incredible voice at the end of "In Your Eyes"? That's this guy) makes me rather ill. his music was better off without those things. almost sci-fi edge that sets it apart from all the other township music I've heard. "Maria Fulo" is an incredible track. the South African stuff wound up lumped together on this disc.it's something of a singular track in her discography. and it's definitely my favorite of hers. rough drum part full of China crash cymbal provides the undercarriage for this unusually gritty bit of South African fusion. Funk & Fusion Under Apartheid (Counterpoint) A nice.Sunny Ade is a huge star in Africa and his native Nigeria in particular. That voice owns the track. Dairo. 1978) Available on Afrika Underground: Jazz. Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar: "Wadiour" (Senegal. His mbalax stuff is interesting.wild self-indulgence redeemed by a killer beat. Miriam Makeba: "Maria Fulo" (South Africa. The synthesizers and Rhodes piano flail about on top of the beat for most of the song. The Rough Guide to Youssou N'Dour (Rough Guides) I'll be honest. and he's the acknowledged master and modernizer of the country's traditional Juju music. 1985) Available on The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Earthworks) A vocal track from the same Soweto comp. his first record to feature synthesizers and a Western producer. piano and lots of hand percussion. This song is the lead track on Juju Music. Miriam Makeba was a South African exile. and his harasser is voiced by someone speaking through some sort of vocal processor. especially his duet with Neneh Cherry. but I don't enjoy listening to it much. and that's basically it-. >> 612. a mantel he inherited from the late I. It does have a very cool slide guitar solo in the middle of it and a hypnotic groove composed of several interlocking guitar parts. but this track is largely missing them anyway.S. just a wall of percussion and some tastefully arranged horns and her voice. She settled at first in the U. belting with an awe-inspiring controlled power-. >> 610.. prohibited from returning because of her stand against Apartheid. but I swear it wasn't intentional. ultimately leaving music for a stint as Guinean president Sekou Toure's United Nations representative. Amaswazi Emvelo: "Indoda Yejazi Elimnyama" (South Africa.
and the pitched drum interjections that define mbalax are nowhere to be heard-.those drums were actually one of the most interesting things about mbalax." but it's the refrain of "He dey halla halla/ De boast boast" that reveals him as a master hook-crafter. Big Mouth is a two-track album just like much of Fela's stuff. still the best and most natural-sounding album by a Western musician to incorporate South African music. Williams follows Fela's political path in his lyrics. >> 614. there is no drum kit. Ladysmith Black Mambazo: "Lomhlaba Kawunoni (The Earth Never Gets Fat)" (South Africa. it's Tunde Williams. and it wouldn't be an insult to say they sound like dirt.However. Big Mouth" (Nigeria. As with Tony Allen. "Wadiour" is a sweet track. and the title track features a sturdy horn arrangement over a mid-tempo funk vamp. When they announce that "dancin' time is over" at the end of the song. Tunde Williams & Africa '70: "Mr. but this is more of a funk track and they wouldn't fit here. They're a Zulu a capella choir. Mr. and are emblematic of how quickly the area's Igbo population rebounded from what by all accounts was a truly horrible war. The recording has a lo-fi edge to it that actually aids the floating feel of the music. a foreshadowing of some of Fela's later Egypt 80 material. The man was a monster player and he was one of a few Fela comrades-at-arms to record some of his own music on the side. only hand percussion. offering "Him be contractor/ They give am big contract/ He blow money before he start contract. They still tour extensively and release albums at a phenomenal clip. 1975) Available on the split release Lekan Animashaun: Low Profile/Mr. . The Funkees: "Dancing Time" (Nigeria. early 70s) Available on Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) "It's dancin' time" calls the vocalist over the funky rhythms that open the song. There's something about the mix of voices and the calm beauty of their music that makes it feel like the music is coming from the earth itself and it's been there all along. In an unusual move for an Africa '70 track. and who am I to argue? The Funkees rose quickly from the ashes created by the Biafran War in the Eastern Nigerian town of Aba. 1987) Available on Shaka Zulu (Warner) Ladysmith Black Mambazo became international stars after their guest spots on Paul Simon's Graceland. Big Mouth: Tunde Williams Plays with Africa '70 (Honest Jon's) Any time you hear a trumpet solo on an Africa '70 record. it comes just a little too soon. charging up the mbalax sound with a dose of scratchy funk and coastal guitars. which is ironic considering Williams didn't remain with Fela long enough to play in that band. >> 615. >> 613.
who truly had a sound all their own in the mid-70s. 1969) Available on Ethiopiques Vol. this one wouldn't be a bad choice. fellas?" seals the deal. Nana Ampadu's vocal performance on this song is full of Brownian squeals and screams. the Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop) Benin's greatest band are referred to by any number of variations on their lengthy name." or "all-powerful. Funk & Fusion in 70s Ghana (Sound Way) This is another furiously funky blast from the Sweet Talks. Sweet Talks: "Eyi Su Ngaangaa" (Ghana. 8: Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) and The Rough Guide to Ethiopia (Rough Guides) This song is a masterpiece. probably because he was a keyboardist and arranger first and foremost and a performer second. The organ travels down. Beyene's vocals are the least Ethiopian of anyone in that scene. >> 704. The music itself is fast. 1970) Available on Ghana Soundz 2: Afrobeat. as his bluesy organ playing offers a sonic foil to the modal horn parts.B. Funk & Fusion in 70s Ghana (Sound Way) Oh. but approaches quite differently from the way the JB's might haveÐthe guitars are lighter for one thing. Both of his primary skills are on full display here. The way this song wraps the lead guitar part around the beat is astounding.************************************************************************************* * -------DISC-07-----------------------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> 701. Crentsil's vocal travels up and somewhere in the space between them horns twitch and scorching rhythms throb away. If you only ever hear one track on this whole list. Mi Dayihome" (Benin. >> 703. man. 1976) Available on Ghana Soundz: Afrobeat. though. and the bit where he calls out to the band and asks. A. If I'm ever in Accra. It kicks in with a chunky vamp that blossoms into a majestic horn arrangement that sounds like a whole new world opening up. and its lead spot on Ethiopiques 8 is the only logical place for it to be sequenced. It stands for "tout pouissant. African Brothers Band: "Sakatumbe" (Ghana. Girma Beyene: "Ene Negn Bay Manesh" (Ethiopia. I have to pick up a few of their original albums. "Are you ready. had these guys ever been listening to James Brown. TP Orchestra Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou Dahomey: "Minsato Le. heavy funk. but it's the "TP" that's most important. but in the 70s their sound got harder and soon they were playing a unique brand of funk stuffed with snaking guitar lines and punctuated with piercing James Brown screams." They began playing highlife. early 70s) Available on World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing. >> 702. but the really big difference is in .
1980) .looking at his recent album covers. a flute. 1978) Available on Money Is the Root of Evil (Hefty) This song has no relation whatsoever to the massive Wild Cherry hit of the same name. ineffable rhythmic feel that no one else's music seems to have. Gaspar Lawal: "Kita Kita" (Nigeria. Dibango is still doing it all these years later. This break is disgusting-. and so were nightclubs and bars where the music heard on the Ethiopiques series thrived. The only shame is that they didn't try out more of it. and it's a pensive slow-burner full of long. Dan Boadi & His African Internationals: "Play that Funky Music" (Nigeria.the culture of Ethiopia was opening up. congas. George Danquah: "Just a Moment" (country. >> 709. with scratchy guitar.the drums. I have to say I hope I look that good in my 60s. This instrumental drips with wah pedal and organ and features one of Astatque's stateliest horn charts. >> 708. year unknown) Available on The Danque!! (Afrodisiac) "Just a Moment" is a well-titled piece of music. but it doesn't need to-. 1973) Available on Soul Makossa (Unidisc) The funny thing about the success of "Soul Makossa" is that it's not even really an example of Manu Dibango's signature makossa groove.a wacked-out. soulful female backing vocals buried in the mix. Mulatu Astatque: "Netsanet" (Ethiopia. because that's all it asks for. >> 707. "Mwasa Makossa" captures that groove like lightning in a bottle-it's basically a high-energy funk beat with a distinctive. It never rises above a medium boil. It's almost a funk collage. octopedal snare and cymbal festival-. "Netsanet" means liberty (it's also apparently used as a woman's first name). though they're not very far removed in time from each other. and he has been since the 1950s-. Manu Dibango: "Mwasa Makossa" (Cameroon. and I suppose you might say that that's what Swinging Addis was a celebration of-.and these guys weren't even a funk band! African Brothers were a guitar highlife band and one of the most prolific acts in Ghana. searching sax lines. This is from a 1978 Chicago recording session by Boadi and his band the African Internationals. >> 706. 1974) Available on Ethiopiques 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale (Buda Musique) and AfricaFunk: The Original Sound of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless) If I've got my Amharic right.a few minutes of spacey funk make for a great interlude in the middle of a disc like this. and a few other things congealing into a slow-moving funk instrumental that gradually organizes itself enough to throw out a pretty sweet horn arrangement. so it's only natural that they'd try out a little funk and fusion. >> 705.
His vocal on "Keleya" is the gruntingest. the Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop) If "unh!" was James Brown's motto for the better part of the 70s. No other African track I've heard sounds anything like it.Moussa Doumbia: "Keleya" (Mali. Konono No. Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa '70: "Water No Get Enemy" (Nigeria. He wastes no time getting to the nastiness. >> 710. 1: "Paradiso" (Democratic Republic of Congo. shiny veneer and thumping beat. and multiplying drums. My suspicion is that he's also the sax player. 2005) Available on Congotronics (Crammed Discs) Konono have been the subject of quite a lot of press lately. The sound doesn't have a conventional verse/chorus/verse structure. like 70s Tom Waits with a nasty rhythm section. 1970-1979 (Sound Way) Afro-disco explosion! Fred Fisher's "Asa-sa" should be in every DJ's crate. this almost sounds South African with its bright. but "Paradiso" feels like a real step forward. Two Sides of Fela: Jazz & Dance (Barclay). Most of their recordings are of the electrified brand of Bazombo trance music that got them noticed. either. Music Is the Weapon: The Best of Fela Kuti (MCA/Universal). then "Guhhhrrrrr!" must have been Moussa Doumbia's. The Best Best of Fela (MCA/Universal). 1975) Available on Expensive Shit/He Miss Road (MCA/Universal). but as it progresses. >> 712. and that's exactly what it does. because he doesn't sound like the kind of guy who could stay quiet during the solo without something to do. it morphs into a weird dub track. . following a harder rhythm urged along by skittering hi-hat and rolling snares. The electrified likembe of course sits at the heart of the song. preferring to simply grow more infectious as it goes on. But in our generally mediocre real world. gruffest. with the originally straightforward piano part unfurling into a layered wash and finally giving way to echoing guitars. following a sudden realization by the world that they exist and are making some pretty damn cool music. 1975) Available on World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing. The groove is loose and crisp all the way.Available on Nigeria 70: the Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Strut) At first blush. it's relegated to the dustbins of history until some nice folks like Miles Cleret and his Sound Way cohorts dig it up. disembodied vocal intonations. creating a mind-blowing whorl of sound that sound even more impressive with the band's newfound rhythmic discipline. >> 713. Fred Fisher: "Asa-sa" (Nigeria. announcing the song with a gurgly shriek and then riding the organ-dominated groove with all the "hey!"s and "hoo-ah!"s he can muster. 1979) Available on Afro Baby: The Evolution of the Afro Sound in Nigeria. gnarliest one of this whole set. and in a perfect world it would be. >> 711. and the big horn hits at the 3:30 mark set up the charged last five minutes nicely.
It's a side-long. Franco Aboddy's bass line weaves its way through it all deftly. . disco-infused Afrobeat odyssey that grunts into action with a burst of free-jazz sax and then it's off and running with a pummeling groove. especially with Lekan Animashaun's baritone sax honking away down at the bottom. and this one's no different. That's ultimately the genius of Fela and much of Afrobeat in generalÑthe groove is endless and you're just tuning in to a part of it captured on tape.Essential Afrobeat: The Very Best of Afrobeat 3CD Mix (Family Recordings). I'll be tuning in often. opening with a loping horn-and-Rhodes groove. but it's such a killer track I thought it rounded out this set nicely. ************************************************************************************* * -------VINYL-ONLY-BONUS-TRACK--------------------------------------------------------************************************************************************************* * >> Segun Okeji & Afro Super-Feelings: "Afro Super-Feelings in Disco" (Nigeria. ultra-tight horns and an exuberant chorusÐit's like Fela in the club. and it's one of Fela's heaviest tracks. even when there's plenty of good stuff in between. The song is the kind of thing you can imagine lasting a full hour at the Shrine in Lagos during an all-night concert and still not being long enough. tying together all the percussive threads and anchoring the groove. late 70s?) Available on Afro (Soul Patrol) This is only available on French vinyl. and when Okeji sings "you dance to the feeling of the sound" you do. The main horn theme is doubled by Fela's choir is the same way Sergio Mendes or Peter Thomas might have blended voices and instruments and it makes a thrilling texture. and Afrobeat Sessions (Sessions) All discussions of Afrobeat begin and end with Fela. This is the flip of the Expensive Shit album.
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