AQUARIUS RECORDS…. AFRICA

V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 1 (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Following the beautiful funk / rocksteady / Ethiopian folk fusions on the first compilation, AQ has stocked the full catalogue of the « Ethiopiques » series. Here’s a shortened version of what Windy wrote in her Bay Guardian review of the albums. I recommend you pick up #3 and the stunning instrumental volume #4, then #1. Volume #2 is from the 1990s, not the 1970s as are the other three, and is good but very different.
« From 1969 to 1975, spanning an astonishly short six years, a fascinating set of factors contributed to the golden age of modern Ethiopian music. Unless you’re already a Mahmoud Ahmed fan or own the sadly out-of-print ‘Ethiopian Groove’ compilation, then this is some of the most amazingly beautiful music you’ve never ever heard. Ethiopia, unlike the rest of Africa, was never deeply colonized. Thus the institutional bands, like the Imperial Body Guard Orchestra and the Police Band, used conventional western instruments without regard for western song forms; the music sounds at once familiar and strange, a tantalizing combination. Alternately wistful and eerie arpeggios in pentatonic scales are warbled by the vocalists and horns. Rhythm guitar and jazz-like drums wreak havoc on a westerner’s sense of time (once you think you’re tapping toes along with the beat, you realize you’ve lost it.) And American sixties soul-type guitar follows its own melody above it all. »
MPEG Stream: MELLESSE, MULUQEN « Hedetch Alu »
MPEG Stream: METEKU, TESHOME « Hasabe »

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 10 : Tezeta – Ethiopian Blues & Ballads (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
The literal translation of the word « Tezeta » is memory, or nostalgia and as it applies to music in Ethiopia it is akin to the American genre known as the blues, hence the subtitle of this collection. But don’t worry, you won’t hear any imitations of western blues progressions here. When I first put this on though, I instantly got a feeling of nostalgia before I realised that I’d heard these songs before. In fact, over half of the material on this disc has already been released by Buda in previous collections of Ethiopiques. Four tracks appeared on Ethiopiques #1 (three if you count Getatchew Kassa’s split « Tezeta » slow/fast as one track) and two tracks were present on the instrumental collection of Ethiopiques #4. If you’ve got those two comps already, then you’ll be paying a hefty price for the six new tracks you get on this collection. So is it worth it? Well, I may be a sucker, but the extra tracks are pretty damn impressive. Mahmoud Ahmed’s 12 and a half minute version of « Tezeta » is absolutely dreamy and all three of the previously unissued cuts by Alemayehu Eshete are excellent. The general feel of this collection shares a lot with volume 4 in the series. Along with the two tracks that were already on Ethiopiques #4, the one instrumental track from Ethiopiques #1 is included here, and the remaining vocal tracks on the disc are all down tempo, sorrowful ballads that’ll jerk the tears from your eye sockets. In a way, you could see this collection as a sort of « best of » Ethiopiques and more than recommending it to owners of the rest of the series I would suggest it as a great place to start for those who’ve still not taken the plunge into Ethiopia’s wonderful and unique musical treasure chest. [Note to all the Santa’s out there: great stocking stuffer for the un-initiated.]
RealAudio clip: ESHETE, ALEMAYEHU « Teredtchewalehu »
RealAudio clip: AHMED, MAHMOUD « Tezeta »
RealAudio clip: ESHETE, ALEMAYEHU « Man Yehon Telleq Sew »

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 12 : Konso Music And Songs (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Like volumes 2, 5, and 11, Ethiopiques 12 is a collection apart from the fuzzed out groove music of Amha and Kaifa records which make up much of the material in the series. This volume features the various traditional musics found in the Konso province in the Southeastern part of Ethiopia. Choruses, flute solos, and songs accompanied by various lutes and bells. Comes with 31 pages of liner notes in French and English.
RealAudio clip: TEDESSE DEYASA « Wattatra »
RealAudio clip: KAHANO « Hoppa »
RealAudio clip: CHOIR « Kirba Yoqaa »

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 13 : Ethiopian Groove (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
While not as famous as Amha Eshete (Amha Records), Ali Abdella Kaifa and his Kaifa records was still a heavyweight in Ethiopia’s golden age of record production. Kaifa essentially took up the slack from Eshete when the latter went into exile in 1975 due to the country’s increasingly hostile military government. Entering the music business in 1973 with the release of the first 45s on his label, Kaifa didn’t just materialize in Eshete’s absence. But it was the release of Mahmoud Ahmed’s legendary « Ere Mela Mela » — the album that would become the first Ethiopian recording to be released in Europe — that really put Kaifa on the map. He was also the one who discovered Aster Aweke (who later fled Ethiopia to build a successful career as a world beat artist in the late eighties.) All but two tracks in this collection were recorded between 1976 and 1977 at the tail end of of Ethiopia’s record industry, which was squashed in 1978 (at which point Kaifa continued to produce music on cassettes.) Along with the usual collection of male vocalists (Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Bekele, Ayalew Mesfin and Tamrat Ferendji) there are four tracks featuring female vocalists (unfortunately underrepresented in this series) Bzunesh Beqele and the duo of Asselefetch Ashine & Getenesh Kebret. Ashine & Kebret must be heard to be believed, their unearthly parallel harmonies sharing the limelight wonderfully with the Army Band’s flautist and arranger Teshome Sissay.
Longtime readers of AQ’s list might have caught notice of this volume’s title « Ethiopian Groove », as we had once stocked an album of the same name many years ago (see AQL #42). Indeed this album is the very same as the now out of print one on Blue Silver (in fact Ethiopiques series editor Francis Falceto was the one who compiled the earlier release), but with a few differences. While Ethiopiques #13 is unfortunately missing three of the Aster Aweke tracks that graced the original Ethiopian Groove CD, it is supplemented by the addition of two tracks by saxophonist Seyoum Gebreyes, two by vocalist Muleqen Mellesse and greatly expanded liner notes & photos. We can only hope that Buda Musique is intending to issue an entire CD dedicated to Aster Aweke and her earliest recordings for Kaifa. Until then, those of you with the original Ethiopian Groove should hold onto it.
RealAudio clip: MULUQEN MELLESSE & DAHLAK BAND « Djemeregne »
RealAudio clip: ASSELEFETCH ASHINE & GETENESH KEBRET & ARMY BAND « Metche New »

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 15 : Jump to Addis (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
« A surprising gathering of Ethiopian, French and Dutch musicians, Jump to Addis presents an exhilarating blend of Abyssinian tradition, jazz revisited and mad rock’n’roll. This daring mix features azmari voices and krar lyres along with European guitars, sax and drums. » So says the press release on this modern-day entry in the Ethiopiques series, we thought it was ok but as essential as many of the other Ethiopiques releases. Recorded in Addis Ababa, May 2001.
MPEG Stream: « Bati »
MPEG Stream: « Ambassel »

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 18 : Asguebba! (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Asguebba is another Ethiopiques collection to contain not the excavated gems from the golden era, but contemporary tracks from Addis. With the end of the repressive Derg government in 1991, so ended the strict curfew which made life so difficult for musicians for almost two decades. Oddly, it wasn’t the original sounds of groove music that rose from the ashes, but small groups of itinerant singers accompanied by traditional Ethiopian instruments: masenqo (fiddle), kebero (percussion), and the globally ubiquitous accordian. The artists featured on this disc, recorded in 2001 & 2003, are the cream of the crop, having survived through the halcyon days of the post curfew early nineties on up to the present where most of the cabarets are closed up and the competition has given up. While this collection may not appeal to those looking for a repeat of Volume 4 or any of the other groove music from the late sixties and early seventies, those who enjoyed The Lady With the Krar (Volume 16) should definitely check this out, if for no other reason than to pick up the stunning a capella track from Asnaqe Guebreyes whose falsetto kills all comers. Stunning!
MPEG Stream: TADDESSE ANDARGUE « Ende Iyerusalem »
MPEG Stream: ASNAQE GUEBREYES « Medinana Zelessegna »

V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 2 (Buda Musique) cd 15.98

album cover V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 20 (Buda Musique) 2cd 16.98
Here it is. The most recent installment in Buda Musique’s totally amazing Ethiopiques series, each volume so far focusing on a particular artist, or time or sound, but each volume as completley mindblowing as the next. Sure we had our favorites.
The all instrumental Volume 4 obviously, maybe one of the best selling records at AQ ever, a sexy, funky soulful late night groove. Volumes 6 and 7 featuring Mahmoud Ahmed, and we could probably go one and on listing every single volume. But we have to admit we were a little confused when we got this newest volume, especially when we thought it was to be the last (a quick glance in the booklet reveals that there is a 21st volume on the way!). A double cd, perfect way to finish off the series, but what is this, Either / Orchestra, wait a minute, they’re American aren’t they? From Boston if we’re not mistaken. WTF?! Was their really such a dearth of lost classic Ethiopian music that the final volume needed to be a jazz band from Boston covering Ethiopian songs. We had already written it off before we even played it. But you never know, so we threw it on, and you know what? It was pretty darn good. And sounded pretty darn genuine. A look through the liner notes revealed that these tracks were recorded in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, for the Ethiopian Music Festival in 2004, and features guest musicians from Ethiopia including several recognizable names including Bahta Gebre-Heywet, Getatchew Mekurya, Mulatu Astatqe, Tsedenia Gebre-Marqos, and Michael Belayneh. Performing lots of Ethiopian orignals and traditionals, many that you’ll no doubt recognize from otheer volumes in the series. The songs are as always fantastic , festive and jubilant, with a moody minor key undercurrent, warm rich horns, intricate hand percussion, jazzy guitar and piano, gorgeous melodies. The sound is just so lush and exotic and dark and mysterious and totally exciting, even when played by a bunch of dudes from New England. We still think it’s a little weird to include a double disc live set of Ethiopian jazz / funk via Americans in Ethiopia when there is no doubt oodles and oodles of rare and unreleased Ethiopian music from the sixties and seventies and even the eighties that we all would kill to hear, we’re just happy to have another batch of awesome Ethiopian grooves, and we’re so relieved that this is not the end of the Ethiopiques series!
MPEG Stream: « Muziqawi Silt »
MPEG Stream: « Feqer Aydelem Wey »

V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 3 (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Ethiopia was the site of some of the most beautiful yet sadly forgotten music in the 60’s and 70’s. This compilation takes some of the best tracks from the enterprising Amha Records. This label specialized in recording unusually catchy and groovy pop songs that are not dissimilar to late 60’s Jamaican rocksteady fused with jazz signatures and Ethiopian folk, plus plenty of James Brown funk. What makes these recordings (and most from the « golden era » of Ethiopian music) especially strange is that they were all performed by the institutional military bands who played all of the Imperial marches. Includes tracks by the great Mahmoud Ahmed (different from those on his wonderful « Ere Mela Mela » disc), …Those of you who loved the « Ethiopian Groove » compilation, or who couldn’t get a copy (as it’s now out of print), be thankful.
MPEG Stream: AHMED, MAHMOUD « Kulun Mankwalesh »
MPEG Stream: BEQELE, HIRUT « Almokerkum Neber »

V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 5 (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Volume 5 of this stunning series of compilatons featuring the music made in Ethiopia between 1969 and 1975 — the ‘golden age’ of Ethiopian music where governmental control lightened just enough for one independent label to flourish. Capturing everything from institutional outfits performing Ethio-funk to sad instrumental pieces to music played on both modern and traditional instruments, the series just sounds so lovely. This latest volume focuses on the ‘Tigrigna’ music of Tigray and Eritrea. We suggest you start with the classic volumes 3 and 4 of this series, then move on to all the others.

V/A Ethiopiques Vol. 8 : Swinging Addis (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Finally, another installment in the fabulous Ethiopiques series! This time from the time span of 1969-1974, and focusing closely on the R&B and soul influenced musical output from Ethiopia’s bustling capitol, Addis Ababa. More than just R&B and soul though, the tracks here are striking in their resemblance to early rock & roll and the twist — there’s even a track that sounds like a twisted spin on Chubby Checker. Despite the close relationship to popular music genres in the U.S. there is no mistaking the music’s Ethiopian origin for anyone familiar with this series. And yet, despite even having tracks by such now familiar names as Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete, this compilation distances itself from the previous seven in this series with a sound all its own. It just goes to show you how amazingly diverse and fertile Ethiopia’s music scene was/is. Hooray!
RealAudio clip: AYALEW MESFIN « Hasabe »
RealAudio clip: ALEMAYEHU ESHETE « Tchero Adari Negn »
RealAudio clip: LEMMA DEMISSEW « Astawesalehu »

V/A Gabon: Myene Songs (Ocora) cd 17.98

album cover V/A Ghana Soundz (Sound Way) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
New, nicely packaged compilation of afro-beat from Ghana’s golden era. Sound Way boasts that the 14 tracks included here from the 1970’s are all extremely rare and previously unreleased outside of Africa. So if the Fela reissues and various Strut collections aren’t enough, here’s a nice addition to the collection. Includes a 16 page booklet detailing the history of Ghana’s music industry.
RealAudio clip: 3RD GENERATION BAND, THE « Because of Money »
RealAudio clip: K.FRIMPONG & HIS CUBANO FIESTAS « Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena »

V/A Ghana Soundz (Sound Way) 2lp 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now on vinyl. Nicely packaged compilation of afro-beat from Ghana’s golden era. Sound Way boasts that the 14 tracks included here from the 1970’s are all extremely rare and previously unreleased outside of Africa. So if the Fela reissues and various Strut collections aren’t enough, here’s a nice addition to the collection. Includes a 16 page booklet detailing the history of Ghana’s music industry.

album cover V/A Ghana Soundz Vol. 2 (Sound Way) cd 21.00
A second volume of rare afro funk from Ghana, every bit as good as the first. 14 tracks, all from the seventies, highlight Ghana’s fertile music scene and the varied influences — from funk & soul to fusion & jazz, and even rock. Like its predecessor, Ghana Soundz 2 comes well documented with bios on the artists, archival photos and album art repros. Here’s to hoping these don’t go scarce again so soon.
MPEG Stream: CHRISTY AZUMA & UPPERS INTERNATIONAL « Naam »
MPEG Stream: K. FRIMPONG & VIS A VIS « Aboagyewaa »

album cover V/A Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk And Fusion In 70’s Ghana (Sound Way) cd 21.00
We listed this compilation a couple years back, but unfortunately it went out of print, but thankfully Sound Way has just gotten around to reissuing it. Ghana Soundz is an impressive collection of afro-beat from Ghana’s golden era. Sound Way boasts that the 14 tracks included here from the 1970’s are all extremely rare and previously unreleased outside of Africa. Includes a 16 page booklet detailing the history of Ghana’s music industry, bios on the artists included and photos of the original album art.
MPEG Stream: THE 3RD GENERATION BAND « Because of Money »
MPEG Stream: HONNY & THE BEES BAND « Psychedelic Woman »

album cover V/A Ghana: Ancient Ceremonies, Dance Music & Songs (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Originally released in 1979, Ancient Ceremonies is a collection of recordings from the country of Ghana. Unlike the High Life And Other Popular Music release which features music from the same country, the recordings on this disc focus on — as the title suggests — ancient music, which is completely devoid of any inflluence of Western music (of European or Afro-American.) That said, in the music of Adolphis Micah — who accompanies himself with a one-stringed bowed lute called a gonje — one can distinctly hear the roots of blues music. It’s actually too bad that more music of Micah wasn’t included on this disc, because it’s definitely the highlight of the album. Also nice though are the tracks included here of music performed on the dzil and chohun, both xylophones (and ancestors of the marimba) which are played by two people facing one another. Unlike the Europeanized version of the aforementioned marimba, they include a thin membrane of spider web under their resonators which creates a buzzing tone when the keys are struck. The rest of the tracks consist primarily of drum and chant tracks with the occasional flute. Along with the standard liner notes, album editor Stephen Jay has included a glossary of musical instruments heard on the disc.
RealAudio clip: « Dzil Duet »
RealAudio clip: « Gonje Songs »

V/A Kenya Dry: Before Benga 1 (Original Music) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The music on this CD was originally combined with « The Nairobi Sound », but with the addition of more material, it became neccessary to split the recordings into the acoustic CD and the electric CD. Though the recordings are all acoustic, that is about all that they have in common. There are quite a few pieces that straddle the lobe of ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ songs, including the beautifully eerie « Chemirocha » – a tribute to Jimmy Rodgers.

V/A Kerestina (Original Music) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Intensely quirky, deceptively simple 1950’s acoustic guitar songs from Southern Mozambique. An eerie, raw sound which is linked to South African Shangaan music.

album cover V/A Lagos All Routes: Juju & Highlife, Apala & Fuji (Honest Jon’s) cd 16.98
Damon Albarn and his Honest John’s Records went to Nigeria and all we got were two awesome compilations of classic Juju, Highlife and Afrobeat hits culled from rare vinyl that most of will never be lucky enough to score. With the influence of Fela Kuti sewn boldly on heart, some of these songs are actually from bands who really did time as part of Fela’s live outfit. Both this and the companion compilation Lagos Chop Up are super solid collections of some of the best sounds coming out of Nigeria from the mid 60’s up unti the early 80’s. Very good stuff!
MPEG Stream: SAGBENI ARAGBADA « Sowambe »
MPEG Stream: HARUNA ISHOLA « Pariboto Riboto »

album cover V/A Lagos Chop Up: Fuji & Afrobeat, Highlife & Juju (Honest Jon’s) cd 16.98
Damon Albarn and his Honest John’s Records went to Nigeria and all we got were two awesome compilations of classic Juju, Highlife and Afrobeat hits culled from rare vinyl that most of will never be lucky enough to score. With the influence of Fela Kuti sewn boldly on heart, some of these songs are actually from bands who really did time as part of Fela’s live outfit. Both this and the companion compilation Lagos All Routes are super solid collections of some of the best sounds coming out of Nigeria from the mid 60’s up unti the early 80’s. Very good stuff!
MPEG Stream: SHINA WILLIAMS & HIS AFRICAN PERCUSSIONS « Ise Aje Male/Egbe Kegbe/Emi Koni Koja Ayemi »
MPEG Stream: ETUBOM REX WILLIAM « Uwa Idem Mi »

album cover V/A Lipa Kodi Ya City Council (Mississippi) lp 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Yet another amazing compilation from this Northwestern reissue label. Mississippi, in addition to the bad ass blues and folk comp I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore 1927-1948 reviewed elsewhere on this list, also compiled this amazing collection of rare R+B, pop, high life, juju and choral music from Africa. Mali, Somalia, Kenya, Zambia, even Sierra Leone…
The comp opens with the most wicked slice of down and dirty afro funk you will ever hear. Super funky, hot and sweaty afro soul supreme. Dense propulsive funky drumming, killer old soul jangle riffs, and growled and crooned, sexed up vocals, complete with JB style « HEY! »s… So intense and emotional and irresistible. Nothing else on the comp is as wild or as funky, but it’s all amazing. Crooned ballads with simple shuffling rhythms, fluttery flutes and a deep warm velvety voice, festive joyous celebratory jams, with wildly strummed guitars, lush vocal harmonies, wild percussion, dark languorous afroblues, every track here is a gem, some funky and upbeat, others moody and mellow, so fantastic. Fans of the Ethiopiques comps, the recently reviewed Yaala Yaala releases, that killer Ghana Soundz collection, and the Afro Funk Explosion comp, heck, if you love this stuff the way we do, then you NEED this.
All handmade packaging, recycled record sleeves with pasted on front and back covers. Nice. 

album cover V/A Love, Peace & Poetry: African Psychedelic Music (Shadoks Music) cd 15.98
This latest installment in the on-going, ever-awesome Love, Peace & Poetry compilation series of rare psych rock music from around the world features tracks from African bands. While not as far-fetched as the Extreme Music From Africa comp we used to stock some time back, some might still be surprised by this. Of course, previous volumes in the LP&P series have conclusively demonstrated the all-pervading influence of the Western ’60s rock revolution on the rest of the world, and we’ve stocked lots of cd reissues of LPs by acid-rockers from such ‘exotic’ locales as Turkey, Brazil, and the Phillipines. Not to mention all those Cambodian Rock collections! So of course there’s gonna be African bands for Shadoks to compile. And in fact, we think they maybe included more South African (i.e. white) bands here than they really needed to — not that the chosen tracks aren’t worthy, just that they give the impression that Shadoks couldn’t find enough stuff from the rest of the continent. Maybe their definition of « psychedelic music » is a little narrower than ours, but we’d have thought some Ethiopian groove stuff, or early Orchestra Baobab, would do nicely here. Too funky maybe? But already this collection boasts a wide range of styles from jazzy to spacey to folkish to heavy, hard rock. There’s room here for both fuzz guitar fests (Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family’s « Oh Ye Ye ») and Beatles-esque balladry (Quentin E. Kolpjaeger’s « Weatherman »). 17 tracks total, with several standouts including Nigeria’s Blo (now that’s some authentic African psych rock there) and South Africa’s Freedoms Children (who managed to land three cuts on here) and the proto-metal of fellow countrymen Suck, among others. Perhaps not the strongest of the series (heck, that preceeding Mexican volume was a tough act to follow) but as always, well-stocked with gems — stuff you’re unlikely to hear elsewhere, either!
MPEG Stream: BLO « Time To Face The Sun »
MPEG Stream: RIKKI ILILONGA « Love Is The Only Way »
MPEG Stream: CHRISSY ZEBBY TEMBO & NGOZI FAMILY « Oh Ye Ye »

album cover V/A Love, Peace & Poetry: African Psychedelic Music (Shadoks) lp 16.98
This latest installment in the on-going, ever-awesome Love, Peace & Poetry compilation series of rare psych rock music from around the world features tracks from African bands. While not as far-fetched as the Extreme Music From Africa comp we used to stock some time back, some might still be surprised by this. Of course, previous volumes in the LP&P series have conclusively demonstrated the all-pervading influence of the Western ’60s rock revolution on the rest of the world, and we’ve stocked lots of cd reissues of LPs by acid-rockers from such ‘exotic’ locales as Turkey, Brazil, and the Phillipines. Not to mention all those Cambodian Rock collections! So of course there’s gonna be African bands for Shadoks to compile. And in fact, we think they maybe included more South African (i.e. white) bands here than they really needed to — not that the chosen tracks aren’t worthy, just that they give the impression that Shadoks couldn’t find enough stuff from the rest of the continent. Maybe their definition of « psychedelic music » is a little narrower than ours, but we’d have thought some Ethiopian groove stuff, or early Orchestra Baobab, would do nicely here. Too funky maybe? But already this collection boasts a wide range of styles from jazzy to spacey to folkish to heavy, hard rock. There’s room here for both fuzz guitar fests (Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family’s « Oh Ye Ye ») and Beatles-esque balladry (Quentin E. Kolpjaeger’s « Weatherman »). 17 tracks total, with several standouts including Nigeria’s Blo (now that’s some authentic African psych rock there) and South Africa’s Freedoms Children (who managed to land three cuts on here) and the proto-metal of fellow countrymen Suck, among others. Perhaps not the strongest of the series (heck, that preceeding Mexican volume was a tough act to follow) but as always, well-stocked with gems — stuff you’re unlikely to hear elsewhere, either!
MPEG Stream: BLO « Time To Face The Sun »
MPEG Stream: RIKKI ILILONGA « Love Is The Only Way »
MPEG Stream: CHRISSY ZEBBY TEMBO & NGOZI FAMILY « Oh Ye Ye »

V/A Mali Lolo! Stars Of Mali (Smithsonian) cd 14.98

V/A Mali: Cordes Anciennes (Buda Musique) cd 16.98
Originally recorded and released on LP in 1970, « Ancient Strings » was the first recording devoted solely to the art of playing the Kora. Though it has been around for centuries in various shapes and under different names, the Kora — a bridged lute with a large calf-skin covered gourd resonator — is now pretty much standardized to 21 strings. The tracks on this disc are all kora duets (with the exception of two solo numbers) and the songs are beautiful, lulling pieces with the performers sharing in melodic and lead and accompaniment — usually the songs tend to have one melodic lead supported by another melodic ostinato and a plucked drone bass underlying everything. These are definitely some of the musicians that Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck researched before releasing their classic Djam Leelii album (which, by the way was re-issued a ways back re-mastered and with extra tracks in case you’re lacking a copy of it.)
RealAudio clip: BATOUROU SEKOU KOUYATE & SIDIKI DIABTE « Kulanjan »
RealAudio clip: BATOUROU SEKOU KOUYATE & N’FA DIABATE « Asumba »

album cover V/A Music! The Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv 1900-2000 (Wergo) 4cd 53.00
Founded in 1900 by Carl Stumpf, The Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv is a repository devoted to archiving the musics of the world before their eventual destruction by encroaching modernization brought about by global capitalism. Case in point is presented on page two of the accompanying booklet: « ‘Within the foreseeable future there will no longer be any day-long journeys by rowing boat, where twenty men in a canoe stand one behind the other and sing, because otherwise they would not be able to keep in time with the rhythm of the rowing… » (Albert Schweitzer, 1914) « …Because the songs of the members of the boat’s crew who tow the boats along the Yangtse will have become silent forever, before these faint magical lines have worn away on the wax cylinder. Only the shrill whistle of the steamboat will be heard, and black smoke will lick away at the gruesome cliffs. » So wrote Hedwig Weiss, wife of Friedrich Weiss who worked as a translator in the Sichuan province of China at the beginning of the 20th century. The two of them together took to recording the rowing song of boat crews working on the Yangtse river to preserve their songs. This is just one of the stories on this incredibly impressive four disc collection celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the Archive — which now has a collection of over 150,000 recordings. Fans of the « Secret Museum » series should take heed, this is the shit! Some of the best recordings by pioneering ethnomusicologists are included here along with very detailed information not only about the music they recorded — along with transcriptions in many cases — but the stories behind the people who took to the field to make these recordings. The 100 tracks on this set are divided into four sections: disc one covers the wax cylinder recordings (1893 – 1954), disc two covers monophonic tape recordings (1951 – 1974), disc three covers stereophonic recordings (1967 – 2000) and disc four covers stereophonic, concert — ie: not field — recordings (1973 – 1999) and each disc is sequenced in sections by region: Asia, Oceania, Africa, The Americas and Europe. A hefty price tage yes, but well worth it.
RealAudio clip: (ANONYMOUS) NEW GUINEA 1912 « Interlocking Flutes »
RealAudio clip: (ANONYMOUS) CAIRO, EGYPT 1955 « Nubian Song »
RealAudio clip: JEGOG JAYUS « Jayan Tangis »
RealAudio clip: HAI, TRAN QUANG « Flowing Water, Equal Bars, Golden Chains »

V/A Nairobi Sound: Before Benga 2 (Original Music) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Here resides the electic half of the « Before Benga » recordings. Unlike Ghana’s high life, Kenya’s Benga did not exist expressly for dance; Instead it focused more on lyrics. Most of the musicians heard here were certainly not superstars and could not even afford their own instruments. Because of this most wrote their songs while jamming in studios located conveniently enough in the back rooms of record shops.

album cover V/A Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Afrostrut) 3cd 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
An ambitiously titled new collection from Afrostrut, the premiere label of Afro-Funk reissues. It’s a lot to call a cd set the « definitive » story of funk from Lagos, but Strut really went above and beyond the call of duty on this one. Sure you’ve got all the expected inclusions here, starting with Fela Kuti’s high life band Koola Lobitos, plus a couple tracks from Fela from the Africa 70 period. There are also tracks by Tony Allen as well as Orlando Julius and King Sunny Ade. Those who’ve already invested in a healthy collection of Nigerian music probably have a few of the tracks on here from the above artists, but the cuts that really make Nigeria 70 a crucial purchase are all the nuggets that you’ve never heard, plus a lot of tracks that are completely atypical of the « Afrobeat » sound. There’s the off kilter blues track by Bongos Ikwue « Woman Made the Devil », the fuzzed out single « Allah Wakbarr » by Ofo the Black Company and the psychedelic « Kita Kita » by Gasper Lawal. But the thing that really gives Afrostrut the license to call this collection « definitive » is the inclusion of a third disc (if you buy the digital version that is) consisting of a 65 minute audio documentary — complete with musical examples — of the Nigerian music scene leading up to high life and on through the influence of Cuban rhythms and American funk with many interviews from people intimately involved in the scene. The vinyl gets some compensation with a gorgeous gatefold production though, with detailed liner notes covering the inside.
RealAudio clip: OFO THE BLACK COMPANY « Allah Wakbarr »
RealAudio clip: GASPER LAWAL « Kita Kita »
RealAudio clip: BONGOS IKWUE « Woman Made the Devil »

V/A Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos (Afrostrut) 3lp 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
An ambitiously titled new collection from Afrostrut, the premiere label of Afro-Funk reissues. It’s a lot to call a cd set the « definitive » story of funk from Lagos, but Strut really went above and beyond the call of duty on this one. Sure you’ve got all the expected inclusions here, starting with Fela Kuti’s high life band Koola Lobitos, plus a couple tracks from Fela from the Africa 70 period. There are also tracks by Tony Allen as well as Orlando Julius and King Sunny Ade. Those who’ve already invested in a healthy collection of Nigerian music probably have a few of the tracks on here from the above artists, but the cuts that really make Nigeria 70 a crucial purchase are all the nuggets that you’ve never heard, plus a lot of tracks that are completely atypical of the « Afrobeat » sound. There’s the off kilter blues track by Bongos Ikwue « Woman Made the Devil », the fuzzed out single « Allah Wakbarr » by Ofo the Black Company and the psychedelic « Kita Kita » by Gasper Lawal. But the thing that really gives Afrostrut the license to call this collection « definitive » is the inclusion of a third disc (if you buy the digital version that is) consisting of a 65 minute audio documentary — complete with musical examples — of the Nigerian music scene leading up to high life and on through the influence of Cuban rhythms and American funk with many interviews from people intimately involved in the scene. The vinyl gets some compensation with a gorgeous gatefold production though, with detailed liner notes covering the inside.

album cover V/A Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6 (Sound Way) 2cd 25.00
Just when it seems like the well of quality West African reissue compilations is about to run dry, the Sound Way label returns with another outstanding collection of rarities. This time the focus isn’t on a particular style (as previous compilations on the label such as Afro Baby or Ghana Soundz have tended to do) so much as on the artists, styles and scene that thrived in Nigeria during the cultural moment that followed the Biafran war. The three years of civil war left millions dead and displaced, but also injected Nigeria with a sense of newfound optimism and self-determinance — just as Nigeria itself had once been a colonial creation, the nation was free to reinvent itself in the wake of brutal conflict.
What makes Nigeria Special a compelling listen is the way it reflects this period of expansion and transition by seamlessly placing traditional sounds side-by-side with afro-funk and psychedelic-tinged rock. Similarly, it contrasts the hybrid styles emerging from rapidly expanding urban centers such as Lagos with the rural sounds of their non-Yoruba countrymen. The musical diversity displayed on this collection reflects the growth and upheaval in Nigeria itself – tellingly, some of the most exciting tracks are the result of cross-pollination between old and new.
As with all things Sound Way, the 2cds are beautifully packaged with a detailed introductory essay, reproductions of original cover art and detailed annotations for each track. The vinyl version is split over two 2lp sets. The selections run deep enough to please even the most die-hard African music aficionados, while still being a great introductory collection for those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s amazing musical output.
MPEG Stream: THE DON ISSAC EZEKIEL COMBINATION « Amalinja « 
MPEG Stream: THE SAHARA ALL STARS OF JOS « Feso Jaiye »
MPEG Stream: THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE BAND « Asiko Mi Ni « 
MPEG Stream: THE HYKKERS « I Want A Break Thru' »

album cover V/A Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6 — Part One (Sound Way) 2lp 23.00
Just when it seems like the well of quality West African reissue compilations is about to run dry, the Sound Way label returns with another outstanding collection of rarities. This time the focus isn’t on a particular style (as previous compilations on the label such as Afro Baby or Ghana Soundz have tended to do) so much as on the artists, styles and scene that thrived in Nigeria during the cultural moment that followed the Biafran war. The three years of civil war left millions dead and displaced, but also injected Nigeria with a sense of newfound optimism and self-determinance — just as Nigeria itself had once been a colonial creation, the nation was free to reinvent itself in the wake of brutal conflict.
What makes Nigeria Special a compelling listen is the way it reflects this period of expansion and transition by seamlessly placing traditional sounds side-by-side with afro-funk and psychedelic-tinged rock. Similarly, it contrasts the hybrid styles emerging from rapidly expanding urban centers such as Lagos with the rural sounds of their non-Yoruba countrymen. The musical diversity displayed on this collection reflects the growth and upheaval in Nigeria itself – tellingly, some of the most exciting tracks are the result of cross-pollination between old and new.
As with all things Sound Way, the 2cds are beautifully packaged with a detailed introductory essay, reproductions of original cover art and detailed annotations for each track. The vinyl version is split over two 2lp sets. The selections run deep enough to please even the most die-hard African music aficionados, while still being a great introductory collection for those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s amazing musical output.
MPEG Stream: THE DON ISSAC EZEKIEL COMBINATION « Amalinja « 
MPEG Stream: THE SAHARA ALL STARS OF JOS « Feso Jaiye »
MPEG Stream: THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE BAND « Asiko Mi Ni « 
MPEG Stream: THE HYKKERS « I Want A Break Thru' »

album cover V/A Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6 — Part Two (Sound Way) 2lp 23.00
Just when it seems like the well of quality West African reissue compilations is about to run dry, the Sound Way label returns with another outstanding collection of rarities. This time the focus isn’t on a particular style (as previous compilations on the label such as Afro Baby or Ghana Soundz have tended to do) so much as on the artists, styles and scene that thrived in Nigeria during the cultural moment that followed the Biafran war. The three years of civil war left millions dead and displaced, but also injected Nigeria with a sense of newfound optimism and self-determinance — just as Nigeria itself had once been a colonial creation, the nation was free to reinvent itself in the wake of brutal conflict.
What makes Nigeria Special a compelling listen is the way it reflects this period of expansion and transition by seamlessly placing traditional sounds side-by-side with afro-funk and psychedelic-tinged rock. Similarly, it contrasts the hybrid styles emerging from rapidly expanding urban centers such as Lagos with the rural sounds of their non-Yoruba countrymen. The musical diversity displayed on this collection reflects the growth and upheaval in Nigeria itself – tellingly, some of the most exciting tracks are the result of cross-pollination between old and new.
As with all things Sound Way, the 2cds are beautifully packaged with a detailed introductory essay, reproductions of original cover art and detailed annotations for each track. The vinyl version is split over two 2lp sets. The selections run deep enough to please even the most die-hard African music aficionados, while still being a great introductory collection for those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s amazing musical output.
MPEG Stream: THE DON ISSAC EZEKIEL COMBINATION « Amalinja « 
MPEG Stream: THE SAHARA ALL STARS OF JOS « Feso Jaiye »
MPEG Stream: THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE BAND « Asiko Mi Ni « 
MPEG Stream: THE HYKKERS « I Want A Break Thru' »

V/A Nyabole – Hamar, Southern Ethiopia (Wergo) cd 19.98

V/A Ouelele (Comet) cd 17.98
‘Ouelele’ is a wonderful collection of early 70s Afrobeat rarities (with the earliest track being from 1967) with with tracks by Letta M’Bulu, Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble, J.M. Time & Foty, Manu Dibango, Smahila & the S.B.s, Marius Cultier, Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers, and more!

V/A Rough Guide To Afro-Peru (Rough Guides) cd 13.98

album cover V/A Rumble In The Jungle (Soul Jazz) cd 21.00
When we first got wind of this comp, for some reason, we just assumed it was gonna be another amazing Soul Jazz reggae comp, it didn’t even occur to us that it would be a collection of killer classic jungle jams from the early nineties. But we threw it on, and were just knocked on our asses, transported back to ’93/’94 when we first discovered jungle, particularly, ragga-dancehall-jungle or whatever you wanted to call it, a killer blend of traditional Jamaican dancehall, and this new breed of sped up hip hop that had grown out of the rave scene in the UK.
The history and genealogy is complex, but there’s been plenty written about it, the liner notes here are particularly informative, tracing the development of ragga-jungle from the early Reggae sound systems, through the rave scene, UK hardcore hip hop, and beyond. Ragga jungle was a flash in the pan, existing for 3 or 4 years before most of the folks making it moved on to two-step, garage, drum and bass and on an on. But for our money, this was it. This was THE music we had been waiting for. We have loved dancehall forever, the harder and faster the better, so here was the toasting and melody of dancehall, draped over chopped up stuttering and pounding hip hop beats, all sped up into a rhythmic frenzy.
If there’s one track that sums it up for us, it’s DJ Zinc’s « Super Sharp Shooter », with its interminable vocal and squelchy synth intro, the loping creeping reggae groove, the buzzing melody, the simple shuffling drum beat, the slowed down Method Man sample, and that’s all before the track actually even drops, and when it does… Whoooowheee. We remember hearing this for the first time in one of the few clubs in SF that played jungle back in the day, and it nearly knocked us out of our seats. We ended up buying a DJ mix tape from one of the DJs spinning, and thankfully it had « Super Sharp Shooter » on it, and from that point on, we listened to it over and over every day, in the car, cranked as loud as it would go, bass pumping (as much as the bass could be said to pump in a crappy old van). So fucking heavy and hooky and funky. When the track finally kicks in, it’s massive, relentless serpentine pass line, ultra complex drums, funky and groovy but so tangled and dense, every once in a while the bass line locks on a single not and just hooooooooolds steady until it drops, hard, and we’re off on another junglistic jam. As far as we’re concerned this would be worth it just for this track, but thankfully, the rest of the disc is just as kick ass.
Lots of familiar reggae and dancehall names, Ninjaman, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Cutty Ranks, and for those in the know, the rest of the names read like an early nineties jungle all star lineup: Ragga Twins, Poison Chang, Ragga Twins, DJ Zinc, Shy FX… but even if you don’t know any of these names, the music speaks for itself. Check out « Original Nuttah » by UK Apachi & Shy FX, beginning with some super hooky sing songy reggae vocals before the track launches into a maddeningly dense rapid fire snare workout underpinning a raw and tongue twisting flow. Furious and intense and so goddamn good. Then there’s tracks like Ragga Twins’ « Illegal Gunshot », with its playful and circusy melodic loop, but juxtaposed with some seriously aggro toasting, some Bomb Squad like production, and some outrageously funky drumming.
Pretty much every track on here is a killer, never has a record so much made even us non-dancers want to head for the dancefloor and go fucking nuts. The cool thing about this stuff, is even if you’re dancefloor phobic, is that these tracks are so dense and multi layered, full of convoluted rhythms and mad drumming and rapid fire rhymes and wild toasting and strange melodies and killer grooves, that they’re almost as fun to listen to as they are to dance to. Almost.
Like all Soul Jazz stuff, gorgeously packaged and extensively researched. Tons of liner notes, track notes, photos, all wrapped up in a full color slipcase.
MPEG Stream: DJ ZINC « Super Sharp Shooter »
MPEG Stream: RAGGA TWINS « Illegal Gunshot »
MPEG Stream: ASHER SENATOR « One Bible »
MPEG Stream: POISON CHANG « Press The Trigger »

album cover V/A Rumble In The Jungle (Soul Jazz) 2lp 24.00
When we first got wind of this comp, for some reason, we just assumed it was gonna be another amazing Soul Jazz reggae comp, it didn’t even occur to us that it would be a collection of killer classic jungle jams from the early nineties. But we threw it on, and were just knocked on our asses, transported back to ’93/’94 when we first discovered jungle, particularly, ragga-dancehall-jungle or whatever you wanted to call it, a killer blend of traditional Jamaican dancehall, and this new breed of sped up hip hop that had grown out of the rave scene in the UK.
The history and genealogy is complex, but there’s been plenty written about it, the liner notes here are particularly informative, tracing the development of ragga-jungle from the early Reggae sound systems, through the rave scene, UK hardcore hip hop, and beyond. Ragga jungle was a flash in the pan, existing for 3 or 4 years before most of the folks making it moved on to two-step, garage, drum and bass and on an on. But for our money, this was it. This was THE music we had been waiting for. We have loved dancehall forever, the harder and faster the better, so here was the toasting and melody of dancehall, draped over chopped up stuttering and pounding hip hop beats, all sped up into a rhythmic frenzy.
If there’s one track that sums it up for us, it’s DJ Zinc’s « Super Sharp Shooter », with its interminable vocal and squelchy synth intro, the loping creeping reggae groove, the buzzing melody, the simple shuffling drum beat, the slowed down Method Man sample, and that’s all before the track actually even drops, and when it does… Whoooowheee. We remember hearing this for the first time in one of the few clubs in SF that played jungle back in the day, and it nearly knocked us out of our seats. We ended up buying a DJ mix tape from one of the DJs spinning, and thankfully it had « Super Sharp Shooter » on it, and from that point on, we listened to it over and over every day, in the car, cranked as loud as it would go, bass pumping (as much as the bass could be said to pump in a crappy old van). So fucking heavy and hooky and funky. When the track finally kicks in, it’s massive, relentless serpentine pass line, ultra complex drums, funky and groovy but so tangled and dense, every once in a while the bass line locks on a single not and just hooooooooolds steady until it drops, hard, and we’re off on another junglistic jam. As far as we’re concerned this would be worth it just for this track, but thankfully, the rest of the disc is just as kick ass.
Lots of familiar reggae and dancehall names, Ninjaman, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Cutty Ranks, and for those in the know, the rest of the names read like an early nineties jungle all star lineup: Ragga Twins, Poison Chang, Ragga Twins, DJ Zinc, Shy FX… but even if you don’t know any of these names, the music speaks for itself. Check out « Original Nuttah » by UK Apachi & Shy FX, beginning with some super hooky sing songy reggae vocals before the track launches into a maddeningly dense rapid fire snare workout underpinning a raw and tongue twisting flow. Furious and intense and so goddamn good. Then there’s tracks like Ragga Twins’ « Illegal Gunshot », with its playful and circusy melodic loop, but juxtaposed with some seriously aggro toasting, some Bomb Squad like production, and some outrageously funky drumming.
Pretty much every track on here is a killer, never has a record so much made even us non-dancers want to head for the dancefloor and go fucking nuts. The cool thing about this stuff, is even if you’re dancefloor phobic, is that these tracks are so dense and multi layered, full of convoluted rhythms and mad drumming and rapid fire rhymes and wild toasting and strange melodies and killer grooves, that they’re almost as fun to listen to as they are to dance to. Almost.
Like all Soul Jazz stuff, gorgeously packaged and extensively researched. Tons of liner notes, track notes, photos…
MPEG Stream: DJ ZINC « Super Sharp Shooter »
MPEG Stream: RAGGA TWINS « Illegal Gunshot »
MPEG Stream: ASHER SENATOR « One Bible »
MPEG Stream: POISON CHANG « Press The Trigger »

V/A Secret Museum Of Mankind – Music Of North Africa – Ethnic Music Classics: 1925-48 (Yazoo) cd 16.98

V/A Shrine of Afrodigital: Future Sounds From the Motherland (Ocho) cd 19.98
« Shrine of Afrodigital » is sort of a sequel to the « Shrine of Afro-funk » that Ocho released last year. This compilation presents tracks from urban African artists exploring the future of afro-beat, drawing from legendary artists to up and coming afro-house dj’s and remixers. The album is unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. The most notable tracks being Tony Allen’s vocoder laden « Ariya », a Senegalese hip hop track from Youssou N’Dour’s label which features sampled snippets from traditional Senegalese musicians, and a fairly catchy Rai-House track from Cheikha Rimitti. Also on this disc are Femi Kuti (remixed by Francois Kevorkian), Cesaria Evora (remixed by Body & Soul, a.k.a. Francois K. & Joaquin Clausell), Vivian N’Dour (who pays homage to Aaliyah’s « Are You That Somebody), Babacar Faye and more.
RealAudio clip: ALLEN, TONY « Ariya »
RealAudio clip: KANTIOLIS « Comportement »
RealAudio clip: RIMITTI, CHEIKHA « Nakhla »

album cover V/A Sleeping In The Market: Ethiopian Music & Sounds From Amhara (Latitude) cd 14.98
Another new disc from Locust’s Latitude imprint. This one, recorded by Yayehe Smon, documents a trip he and his brother took along with their father to Ethiopia. Being good documentarians they brought their recorders and started rolling tape (well, more likely they brought their mini-disc recorders and burned a lot of discs, but it doesn’t slide off the tongue as well.) Five of the eight tracks here are from children and teens, some of them singing as they play in the streets, either spontaneously making up songs or singing a capella cover versions of local hits. The first track, sung by a nine year old girl, is reason enough to own the cd. She has to have the most insane vocal chords and singing technique in the world. We certainly haven’t heard anything like it before. Imagine if Buffy Saint Marie (ie: super fast and intense vibrato) took up yodelling and you kind of get the idea. Except that she’s singing this soulful Amharic tune with a melody that leaps all over the place. Never heard anything like it. The other songs by children, whether singing solo or in groups, are accompanied by fiddle. Of the non-children tracks, there’s a nice solo flute piece performed by a blind beggar, a peasant singing as he threshes wheat, and one of a professional itinerant male/female duo with accordian accompaniment.
MPEG Stream: « Laluyeah »
MPEG Stream: « Bale-Whashinto »

album cover V/A Soul of Angola: Anthologie de la Musique Angolaise 1965/1975 (Lusafrica) 2cd 38.00
Here’s a double cd compilation of Angolan shantytown pop from 1965-1975, with a similar lineup of artists as the « Angola ’60s » and « Angola ’70s » comps we’ve already been carrying: Artur Nunes, Os Kiezos, Urbano de Castro, Oscar Neves, Jovens do Prendo, Os Bongos, and many many more. Some tracks are sunny and energetic, some sad, slow and languid. Electric guitars, and rhythms from the Congo, Brazil and the Carribean all combined with native Angolan music. This is stuff from a creatively fertile, politically explosive era of Angolan history, when it was a Portugese colony on the verge of independence. Delightful music, but bittersweet, as the liner notes point out that several of the artists on here didn’t survive the violence in their country in the late ’70s.
RealAudio clip: AVOZINHO « Mama Divua Diame »
RealAudio clip: ARTUR NUNES « Dito Ze »

V/A The Danque!! (Afrodisiac) cd 12.98

album cover V/A Waza: Blue Nile – Sudan (Wergo) cd 17.98
Here’s a recording that ought to appeal to fans of the Orgues A Bouche, the Central African Banda Linda Horns, or the Aluar Horns ( featured on the Explorer East African Ceremonial & Folk Music disc we listed late last year). The music on this disc is that of the Waza trumpet ensembles of the Berta people. The Berta are a distinct ethnic group living in the borderlands between the Sudan and Ethiopia who’ve long struggled for years to remain culturally autonymous against the forces of the surrounding dominant ethnic groups. The Waza trumpet ensemble, the most important musical expression of the Berta, was originally performed as a sort of status symbol by local chiefs to demonstrate their power. The ensemble generally consists of 10 to 12 trumpets ranging in length between 50 and 180 centimeters and accompanied by percussion — in the form of wood blocks — and often a chorus of female singers. Like the Banda Linda Horns, each horn player in a Waza ensemble plays only one note and through rigorous group cooperation participates in producing a stunning polyphony. Along with the large Waza trumpet ensembles on this disc, there are several recordings of smaller ensembles of flute, percussion and choruses. This release from Wergo comes deluxely packaged in an oversized slip cover along with a seventy page booklet of detailed liner notes, photos and even musical transcriptions.
MPEG Stream: « If You Say My Name, I’ll Fuck You! »
MPEG Stream: « Where Do You Go? »

album cover V/A West Africa: Drum, Chant & Instrumental Music (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Originally released in 1976 as « Africa: Drum, Chant & Instrumental Music », this is a collection of recordings made in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Like the other CD in this series « East Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music » there’s a wide variety of instrumentation, given the wide geographical span from which the recordings were captured. Unlike that disc however, much of the tracks on here consist of solo improvisations on various instruments, drums and voice. Much of the tracks are subtly altered cyclical tunes which were recorded either during a musician’s daily endless practicing or during an actual ceremony, such as the Tuareg Medicinal Chant which is intended to excite « the sick person to dance in an increasingly vigorous manner until either cured or exhausted. » The warbling tones of the lead vocalist are accompanied by a droning chorus and percussion. The buzzing of the chorus and the warbling singer is made even more creepy by random screams which are said to represent the devil being chased away.
RealAudio clip: « Bounkam Solo »
RealAudio clip: « Tuareg Medicinal Chant »
RealAudio clip: « Kouco Solo »

album cover V/A World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s A Real Thing (Luaka Bop) cd 16.98
It’s hard to argue with this one. Indeed, we’re gonna do quite the opposite and make it a Record Of The Week! This collection, the third in the World Psychedelic Classics series on Luaka Bop (David Byrne’s « world music » label), after an Os Mutantes collection and that incredible Shuggie Otis album, is further subtitled: « The Funky, Fuzzy Sounds Of West Africa ». Stress on the funk we thinks. Yup, authentic ’70s West African funk with a ‘delic bent. Really really hard stuff not to like.
The dozen tracks here have got it all: Afro-centric chants, polyrhythmic percussion, James Brown style raspy yelps, wicked organ workouts, and even hard wah-wah acid fuzz jams (Ofo & The Black Company’s bad-ass « Allah Wakbarr » is about the last word in that department, though we’d like to hear more). Though some come closer to the compilers’ stated concept than others, all the tracks are winners, from the moody, marimba-based soundtrack theme of Manu Dibango’s « Ceddo End Title » to the Cuban stylings of No. 1 de No. 1’s « Guajira Van » to the percolating political space-funk of William Onyeabor’s « Better Change Your Mind ». And Alison simply says that « Ifa » by Tunji Oyelana and the Benders is her favorite. Probably because it sets itself apart from the other tracks by utilizing a more scrappy electronic sound to back its stripped-down politically-bent Afro-pop-style lyricism.
All the tracks come from the decade of the ’70s, and the bands that recorded them hail from the West African countries of Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Gambia, Benin, and Nigeria (but only two tracks overlap with the now-out-of-print 3cd Nigeria 70 compilation). And we think the compliers did a damn fine job, though it seems any survey of West African psych shoulda included a track by Blo, the closest thing to Cream the continent produced as far as we know. Ah well… we can hope for a second volume someday perhaps. Meanwhile, anyone who digs James Brown, Fela, Funkadelic, Orchestra Baobab, or more recent AQ reviewees Konono No. 1 and Black Merda, for instance, will certainly find that love IS a real thing when it comes to how you’re gonna feel about this compilation!!
The liner notes go on about the psychedelic aspect of these bands, and while this stuff is definitely far out and groovy it’s way more James Brown than brown acid. Mention of Haight-Ashbury seems a stretch, and the music of these bands has got as much or more to do with their motherland than, say, the generally more Western-derived psych we’ve heard from Thailand, Cambodia, or Turkey on various other comps we’ve carried. Then again, when you look at rock music influencing African music, you’ve got a full-circle phenomenon to examine. And when we reviewed the (currently unavailable) Love Peace & Poetry: African Psychedelic Music compiliation some months back, the stuff on this new comp is exactly what we felt was missing and should have been included.
In any case, proper psych or not, and with or without much fuzz, this is definitely FUNKY.
The attractive cd booklet includes notes on each track/artist, complete with color album sleeve art where available. Nicely done. Furthermore, this is an « enhanced cd », allowing those with the appropriate computer technology to witness a video of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey’s track « Minsato Le, Mi Dayhome ».
MPEG Stream: SUPER EAGLES « Love’s A Real Thing »
MPEG Stream: MANU DIBANGO « Ceddo End Title »
MPEG Stream: OFO & THE BLACK COMPANY « Allah Wakbarr »

album cover V/A Zanzibara 1: Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Back in stock!
We’ve been totally digging the always amazing Ethiopiques series, documenting the rich history of Ethiopian music, and it just keeps getting better and better with each volume. You think that would be plenty to keep the folks at Buda Musique busy, but apparently not, as they’ve gone ahead and launched a new series entitled Zanzibara, chronicling the Swahili popular music of the East African Coast. Future volumes will be more archival, but this first installment celebrates Ikhwani Safaa, Zanzibar’s (and most likely Africa’s too) oldest music club, which turned 100 in 2005. These recordings, captured in Zanzibar in 2004 and Dubai in 2005, feature some of the region’s most revered singers and players, all gathered to play classic songs and celebrate the last 100 years. The music here is dramatically different than anything in the Ethiopiques series, much more moody and hypnotic, less festive and jubilant, but no less captivating. The interesting thing is that the music here sounds unlike any of the African music we are familiar with and instead sounds much more Indian or Arabic. The vocals especially, sound distinctly Indian, as well as the swooning soaring strings. Lush, moody, swirling, slightly saturnine, and absolutely wonderful.
MPEG Stream: « Vingaravyo Vyote Si Dhahabu »
MPEG Stream: « Cheo Chako »

album cover V/A Zanzibara 2: L’Age D’Or Du Taarab De Mombasa – 1965-1975 / Golden Years Of Mombasa Taarab (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Second installment in this new series from the folks who brought us the absolutely essential and nearly perfect Ethiopiques series. This new series chronicles the Swahili popular music of the East African Coast. The first installment (now back in stock, see elsewhere on this list) celebrated Ikhwani Safaa, Zanzibar’s (and most likely Africa’s too) oldest music club, which turned 100 in 2005. This second volume is more archival and is drawn from recordings made from 1965-1975. Mombasa Taarab is a dizzying mix of African music with Arabian, Asian and European influences. Which is why this music sounds as Indian or Asian as it does African, in fact much of the time more so. There is a definite Bollywood influence, in fact Bollywood films had become very popular in Mobasa and many singers would take certain elements from those films, voice, melody, instrumentation, and then translate them into Swahili taarab songform. Fans of the Ethiopiques series should definitely be all over this series. As well as fans of Indian film music. We’ve been listening to this like crazy (and the first volume which we just got back in). We can hardly wait to hear the next one!
Massive booklet, with extensive liner notes, and in-depth notes on each artist.
MPEG Stream: MANTANO JUMA « Dada »
MPEG Stream: YASEEN MOHAMED « Ndege Kaa Ufkiri »
MPEG Stream: ZUHURA SWALEH « Ya Zamani »

album cover V/A Zanzibara 3: Ujamaa – Le Son Des Annees 60 En Tanzanie / The 1960s Sound Of Tanzania (Buda) cd 15.98
Okay, it might seem too easy to say with this new volume of the Zanzibara series that if you dug the first and second you’re gonna love the third, but it’s true. Zanzibara 3 is another terrific compilation from the Buda Musique label (the folks behind the awesome Ethiopiques series). If you’re new to the series, we’ll let ya know that the spotlight shines a loving glow on the coastal music of Eastern Africa. As the title tells, this time it’s from Tanzania in the ’60s — seventeen tracks from Jamhuri Jazz Band, Nuta Jazz Band, Atomic Jazz Band, Morogoro Jazz Band, and Dar Es Salaam Jazz Band! Although the names of the five groups featured here all have the words « Jazz Band » in them, holding them to that genre’s commonly thought of parameters is far too limiting. Performed on guitars, horns, percussion, bass, and some amazing voices, these songs also possess a bright brassy shine akin to Caribbean Calypso music and gentle lilting rhythms like those of many Latin American artists of the same period. Wonderful!
MPEG Stream: NUTA JAZZ BAND « Nimechoka »
MPEG Stream: ATOMIC JAZZ BAND « Kaka Umenishinda »

album cover V/A Zimbabwe: Shona Mbira Music (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Possibly the most highly represented ethnic group in this collection — at least in the African portion — the music of the Shona account for three separate albums in the Explorer Series. I suppose that may not be so surprising as the mbira — or as it’s more commonly called the « thumb piano » — has enjoyed a certain preferential treatment in the U.S. when it comes to exposure, due to its dulcet tones. And if there ever was a group who could lay claim to being masters of the mbira, I suppose it would be the Shona. And the backlash that follows is a lament that mbira music is the type of music you can give your grandma as a present without offending her. A built in nu-age predisposition. But, so fucking what. Yeah, sure, a lot of opportunistic world beat and nu-age artists have exploited the instrument’s disposition, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy an instrument for our ears. And hearing it played in a cultural context sans nefarious commercial interests ought to wipe out any negative associations. Shona Mbira Music was originally released in 1977.
RealAudio clip: MHURI YEKWARWIZI « Nhemamusasa »
RealAudio clip: MHURI YEKWARWIZI « Nyamaropa Yekutanga »

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