Aug 16, 2016

Light & Sound Of Mogadishu



There was a time in the 70s when Mogadishu was the coolest place in Africa. It was a city of whitewashed coral houses, colonial arcades on tree-lined boulevards and Italian Art Deco cafes looking over a cobalt-blue sea.

And it was funky. Young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in billowing direh. Young dudes in bell bottoms and sporting serious Afros, strutted past groups of men in mabwis kilts and white skull caps. And the local bands – inspired by James Brown, The Doors and Santana – were laying down some of the heaviest organ-led funk on the continent.

Sadly, that Mogadishu is long gone. But its spirit lives on in this collection of 45s just released by Afro7 Records.

The singles were originally released by the local Light & Sound label. The label was an off-shoot of the ‘Light & Sound’ electric appliance shop, both owned by local entrepreneur Ali Hagi Dahir. Not only could Light & Sound sell you the record player, they could sell you the LP to play on it as well.
The recording studio sat in a back room just off the main sales floor. It was the first privately owned studio in Somalia. Unlike the State-owned studios at Radio Mogadishu, here musicians were free to experiment and get into their own groove.

The best tracks from the time are built around the deep groves of Ahmed Naalji and his super-tight Sharero Band. Naalji cut his teeth playing with the Radio Mogadishu Orchestra, but soon became frustrated by the style of music they were forced to play.

It wasn’t long before he started his own band. Originally called ‘Gemini’, they were soon known as the Sharero Band, and shamelessly copied the heavy funk coming out of America at the time. They quickly become the hottest band in Mogadishu performing every weekend at the Jazeera nightclub in the south of the city, the Juba nightclub in the centre and the Al-Curuba nightclub in the iconic hotel of the same name.

This particular release is the first from a new label, Afro7 Records. It’s an off-shoot of the popular website, Afro7.net, which has become the go-to place on the Internet for East African music.
It’s an album of two halves – the first featuring funkier stuff from the Sharero Band, the second focusing on the more traditional sounds from Magool, the biggest female Somali artist of her time.
Personally, I would have loved an entire album of the grinding keyboards and wah wah guitar of the Sharero band. But with Mogadishu Light & Sound only ever pressing 150 copies of each their singles, I understand that they may be difficult to lay hands on.

So I’m simply thankful for Side A. And know it’s going to get a bit of a workout over the months to come.

(Just one more thing: I’m not sure what the sources were for these songs – I can’t imagine they’d be great – but the mastering is excellent. The artwork is topnotch too. So well done Afro7!)

africanrevolutions.com

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Blue and White, the colors of the Somali flag, Blue and White, the colors of Mogadishu. This city, that over the last seventeen years has become a symbol of anarchy and suffering, was once one of East Africa’s most appealing capitals. Friends and colleagues who lived in Mogadishu in the early 1970s remember a city of whitewashed corral houses, with Arabic arches and elaborately carved rosettes, of Italian art-deco cafes and colonial administrative buildings, a city of tree shaded boulevards, and the cobalt blue of the Indian Ocean. They remember a city where young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in colorful and billowing Direh, where young dudes grew Afros and strutted, in bell bottoms, past groups of men in ma’awis kilts and white skullcaps. Today, living far from Mogadishu, these friends and colleagues feed their memories with a steady diet of thirty-year old recordings by their favorite poets and singers from ‘back home’.

These rich memories, and reveries, of the early 1970s are captured in this set of 45s on the ‘Light & Sound’ label from Mogadishu. The label was an offshoot of the successful ‘Light & Sound’ electronic appliance store located in the center of the city. The store, which shared a building with the famous ‘Cinema Hamar’ (which was the first enclosed movie theater in Mogadishu), and the label, were both owned by Dahir Omar. The recording studio was located in a back room off the main sales floor, and may have been the first private recording studio in Somalia (at the time most recordings were made in the studios of Radio Mogadishu or Radio Hargeysa). Today, both the store and the ‘Cinema Hamar’ are closed. I do not know how many singles were released on ‘Light & Sound’ (I have not yet been able to track down Dahir Omar, or anyone who worked at the store), but the 45s below represent some of Somalia’s most loved artists.

Blue and White, the colors of the Somali flag, Blue and White, the colors of Mogadishu. This city, that over the last seventeen years has become a symbol of anarchy and suffering, was once one of East Africa’s most appealing capitals. Friends and colleagues who lived in Mogadishu in the early 1970s remember a city of whitewashed corral houses, with Arabic arches and elaborately carved rosettes, of Italian art-deco cafes and colonial administrative buildings, a city of tree shaded boulevards, and the cobalt blue of the Indian Ocean. They remember a city where young women in miniskirts strolled alongside older women in colorful and billowing Direh, where young dudes grew Afros and strutted, in bell bottoms, past groups of men in ma’awis kilts and white skullcaps. Today, living far from Mogadishu, these friends and colleagues feed their memories with a steady diet of thirty-year old recordings by their favorite poets and singers from ‘back home’.

These rich memories, and reveries, of the early 1970s are captured in this set of 45s on the ‘Light & Sound’ label from Mogadishu. The label was an offshoot of the successful ‘Light & Sound’ electronic appliance store located in the center of the city. The store, which shared a building with the famous ‘Cinema Hamar’ (which was the first enclosed movie theater in Mogadishu), and the label, were both owned by Dahir Omar. The recording studio was located in a back room off the main sales floor, and may have been the first private recording studio in Somalia (at the time most recordings were made in the studios of Radio Mogadishu or Radio Hargeysa). Today, both the store and the ‘Cinema Hamar’ are closed. I do not know how many singles were released on ‘Light & Sound’ (I have not yet been able to track down Dahir Omar, or anyone who worked at the store), but the 45s below represent some of Somalia’s most loved artists.

‘Shimbir Yohou’ is one of Magool’s most famous recordings from the 1970s. Addressing herself to a little bird, she sings, ‘where do you fly? Do you serve the people, or do you just follow the air streams? Can you take a message for me? I am lost and tired. Little bird can you find your way? If I tell you where to go, can you take a message for me?’

Hibbo Nuura, who today lives in Rochester, Minnesota, and has been performing for almost three decades, made some of her earliest recordings for the ‘Light & Sound’ label. Born in the Northeastern city of Boorama, she grew up in Mogadishu, and started singing at the age of 7. In 1970, when she was only 14 years old, the singer and composer Ahmed Rabsha discovered Hibbo, and three years later, he brought her to the ‘Light & Sound’ recording studio.

Ahmed Rabsha was born in Mogadishu in 1945, and started singing when he was only 13 years old. He made his public debut in 1963, performing at weddings and parties, and six years later formed his first group, ‘The Soul Full Five’. In 1970, he was hired as a music teacher at the Institute for Traditional Arts in Mogadishu. One of his first responsibilities was to recruit talented young female singers and teach them a new repertoire of patriotic songs (General Mohammed Siad Barre had taken power in 1969, and was just kicking off his ‘social revolution’). In 1974, Rabsha won a scholarship to study music in the Sudan, and by the end of the decade he had moved to Dubai, where he trained the Police Orchestra. He spent the last years of his life in London working on a history of Somali music. He passed away last fall.

This duo with Ahmed Rabsha, which was released back in 1973, was Hibbo’s second recording. She described this music to me as Somali Rumba.
 
These next four tracks are built on the deep-grooves of Ahmed Naaji and his great ‘Sharero Band’. The Naaji family is from the Benadir ethnic minority, who have roots in Yemen and the Persian Gulf, and who were some of Mogadishu’s earliest residents. In the early 1970s, Ahmed, who for many years was a member of the Radio Mogadishu orchestra, formed a band to perform a new style of Somali music; one that was inspired by Santana, The Doors, and James Brown.

His new group was originally called ‘Gemini’, but by the early 1970s it was going by the name ‘Sharero band’. The core of the group consisted of Ahmed on keyboards, Ali Naaji on bass guitar, Anter Naaji on drums, Said Abdallah on lead guitar, and Mohammed Abadallah ‘Jeeri’ on lead vocals. They performed most weekends at the Jazeera nightclub in southern Mogadishu, at the Juba nightclub in central Mogadishu, or at the Al-Curuba nightclub, located in the majestic Al-Curuba hotel. The group split up some time in the 1980s. Today, Ahmed Naaji lives in Yemen, and continues to perform throughout the Somali Diaspora, Ali Naaji lives in Denmark, and a new generation of Naajis is making music in Toronto.

blogs.voanews.com


 










Aug 12, 2016

Benis Cletin - Jungle Magic


Full scale Afro-disco heat here on reissue machine PMG, opening with the mindblowing title track. Benis Cletin’s dog-rare 1979 cut “Jungle Magic” lays a warped synth over a lethal bassline and a slow Afro-disco groove, topping the whole thing off with a unique homage to Donna Summer... Originally released on Afrodisia records in 1979, the result sounds like the the confused love-child of a time-travelling Derrick May and a Nigerian disco queen - timeless eccentricity that you won't be able to resist. From there we traverse through Moog topped funk, village disco and hypno groove, all fusing the organic African sounds with the electronic. If you're looking for that wonky early doors cut to get the crowd moving in the most peculiar way, I'd suggest you turn your attention toward the oddball, AORfro funk of "Fireman".

Patrick says: If you're looking for a psychedelic stormer which sounds a bit like a Nigerian cover of "House Of The Rising Sun" but with squirmy Moogs and Donna Summer style vocals - then you're in luck. "Jungle Magic" is a gorgeous LP of dreamy African textures led off by that massive title track!

piccadillyrecords.com

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This 1979 Nigerian cut somehow contains dark proto-acid squiggles that would captivate Derrick May, a weirdo chant about "jungle magic" that could hypnotize Lee "Scratch" Perry, and a wonky clavioline (?) honk that could mate with geese. We then have Cletin singing a type of "superstition" that outstrips Stevie Wonder's own black magic funk as man, woman and child all change into beasts within the song. Uh…what? (Exactly.)  

residentadvisor.net 

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Regarded as an acid boogie classic, Jungle Magic is a cosmic transmission from the early days of Nigerian disco. The bass lines are lethal. The synths are fat and squelchy. And the groove is non-stop and primal.

Channeling the jungle gods of funk and introducing them to Donna Summers, the title track, ‘Jungle Magic’, takes you to a freaky place you didn’t know existed but never want to leave. ‘Love Forever’ brings a Calypso party vibe while ‘Fireman’ suggests Prince may have been listening to Benis when he wrote ‘Alphabet Street’.

The album was composed and produced by Benis Cletin. He also played guitar and synthesizer and sang lead vocals. George Achini from the Mighty Flames stars on bass and Mambo Sticks, Nigeria’s leading disco drummer, lays down the rock solid grooves.

Benis went on to release three more albums, two of which will be re-issued by PMG soon. Jungle Magic remains the album where he introduced his irresistible brand of psychedelic disco funk to world.

africanrevolutions.com




Tracklist

A1. Jungle Magic
A2. Mr. Teacher
A3. Rain, Sun And Love
B1. Love Forever
B2. Fireman
B3. Beautiful Continent 

Aug 11, 2016

Geraldo Pino ‎– Boogie Fever


When Geraldo Pino rolled into town from Sierra Leone with his Heartbeats, Nigeria had never seen anything quite like them. Slick, tight and playing the latest James Brown-style funk on the very expensive equipment, they soon had the country in their thrall. ‘Made me fall right on my ass!’ a chastened Fela Kuti remembered in 1982. Fans of Geraldo’s disarmingly eloquent enunciation on early albums - re-issued soon by PMG - may shocked the gruff, rawer tones on Boogie Fever. The album starts with a jaunty reggae track extolling the virtues of ganja and, later, ‘Dance Fever’ sounds like it was recorded down in Trenchtown after Geraldo had taken a toke or two of his own advice. Even the more traditional funk tracks like ‘African Hustle’ have a darker, more threatening vibe. Not that that is a bad thing. Boogie Fever is the sound of consummate musician letting his hair down. Or in Geraldo’s case, letting it grow into a tight afro and not bothering to watch his Ps and Qs anymore. - Peter Moore,

"Geraldo Pino came to Nigeria from Freetown in Sierra Leone in 1968 with his band THE HEARTBEATS and quickly changed the music scene completely. He was the first bandleader that brought sophistication into show business. He owned the best musical equipments, his costumes on stage was fantastic, his musicians were good looking guys with afro hair styles. His drummer then was Francis Foster who later played percussion with Paul Simon. Pino got the title of THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS in Nigeria. Girls loved him. I later joined his band with new set of musicians in 1974 as a singer while he based in Kano in the north of Nigeria. To survive in Nigeria those days as a musician you have to be very good on stage and Pino was. His stagecraft was exhilarating, his costumes were dazzling, he command the band and his audience wherever he played with his dancesteps and he became an inspiration to many Musicians. He later moved to Port Harcourt where he lived and died many years ago. Though he is dead, his music lives on through his many songs and this vinyl in your hands. His memory also lived with those who watched him on stage. Ladies and gentle men, this is GERALDO PINO!"

Steve Black


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"What's that Discogs? One copy for sale for £4,495.86? Fuck that! I'mma get this official reissue on the rather marvelous PMG if it's alright with you..."

Second hand piss-takery aside, this late 70s slice of groove heavy Afro-funk regularly changes hands for a monkey, so your bank manager should be thanking those fine folk in Austria. Drawing on reggae, disco and funk, Mr Pino gets up, down and all the way around across six party starting, largely instrumental offerings. Any record which starts with a buoyant reggae-disco ode to Barry's favourite plant life ("Ganja") is gonna be dope (ahem!), but when we're then taken through a bordering on ludicrous Afro-funk rendition of Beethoven's 5th, you know we're in safely wasted hands. You could easily assume this discoid arrangement would be whack, but you'd be better served throwing some shapes to the buzzing Moogs, chiming keys and wild wah guitar which make this beast purr. Things straighten out for the full steam ahead funk of title track "Boogie Fever" before "Dance For Love" opens the flip with a weirdo reggae lilt. If you're looking for the best party of your life condensed into five and a half minutes, then you should probably cast an ear over "African Hustle", crack your knuckles and dive into air piano ecstasy. After that Moog-led madness, there's just enough time to spark one up to the Afrobeat-meets-reggae of "Shake Shake Shake" before the run out groove reminds you it's time to pick the kids up from school. Killer!

piccadillyrecords.com

Tracklist
A1 Ganja (Ganja)
A2 5th Bethoven Africana
A3 Boogie Fever
B1 Dance For Love
B2 African Hustle
B3 Shake Shake Shake

 

Aug 9, 2016

From Nigeria: Mary Afi Usuah ‎– African Woman




Mary Afi Usuah trained as an a opera singer at the prestigious St Cecilia Academy in Rome and spent 13 years touring Europe with artists like Duke Ellington and Deep Purple. She matched vocal chops with Robert Plant performing with Led Zeppelin and blew away the top names on the Lagos scene when she returned to Nigeria. She also broke a few hearts with her killer smile, if some accounts are to be believed. African Woman marshals these experiences into an exceptionally powerful and diverse album. From the Tina Turner stomp of ‘What’s A Woman To Do’, to the Aretha-style musings of the title track, Mary takes everything she learned on the road to tell her story about her continent in a distinctly African manner. The boys from Akwassa were on hand to ensure that everything was kept extra tight and funky. Mary Afi Usuah only released two albums but she is undeniably one of the greatest female singers the African continent has produced. African Woman serves as her legacy, along with the remarkable number of Nigerian female singers she mentored and inspired. - Peter Moore

"I met MARY AFI USUAH in 1979 while I was the lead singer with TEE MAC COLLECTION. We were based at SURULERE NIGHT CLUB in Lagos, Nigeria. She came in from Calabar in the Cross river state. She was a beauty with her afro hair and had a very strong voice and very powerful on stage. Her performance was electrifying. She did a lot of shows with us and together we got the crowd rocking. A very dark complexioned lady, she was full of life and love. Her smiles would sweep any man off her feet instantly and I immediately recognized a talent that go all over the world. Her music is a blend of African rhythms, soul and funk with heavy bassline. I am glad to let you know that the vynil you have in your hands now contains music that will tickle all ears for a very long time. Happy listening."

Steve Black



Tracklist
 
A1. Tell Me Now
A2. Kam Fat Owo (Mbata)
A3. What's A Woman To Do
A4. African Woman
B1. Sweet Elijah
B2. Spread More Love
B3. Our Generation (Ode To Our Nation)
B4. Tenkim Kpoho

Aug 8, 2016

The Brighton Beat - Hear And Now


Driven by a unified belief in real people playing real instruments expressing real human emotions, The Brighton Beat's goal is to create music that is able to live, breath and develop, with songs that allow the musicians to communicate and tell a story through carefully crafted melodies and inspired solo passages. Real world experiences and an inherent knowledge of jazz set them apart from the crowd. This is a band of working professional musicians looking to make a name for themselves in the ever burgeoning Afrobeat scene. Heavily influenced by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, but in no way traditional, The group creates grooves reminiscent of Herbie Hancock, at times reaching the raw, unbridled expression found in the music of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard.

The Brighton Beat is centered around a strong rhythmic foundation of bass, drums and dense percussion. Varying textures of unique, vintage keyboard and guitar sounds help to thicken the compositions. Leading the group, the adventurous horn section bring their heavy jazz influence to the forefront. Bassist Ryan Hinchey and Drummer Sammy Wags established their groove during recording sessions and national tours with various funk and reggae outfits (iLa Mawana, 6th Degree, The Hub Dub). The horn section leaders; Jon Bean (tenor sax) and Mark Zaleski (alto sax) came together while studying jazz at the New England Conservatory. Upon finishing they quickly established themselves as first-call session players for many of Boston's highest regarded jazz projects, all the while cultivating their own ideas, and exploring the different styles of music that influence The Brighton Beat's diverse catalog.

The Brighton Beat stormed onto the scene with their debut; "The Brighton Beat EP" in 2010, and have since hit the ground running, performing at premier venues around greater New England. Their first full-length album; "The Brighton Beat LP" released in 2012, has been critically acclaimed, receiving numerous glowing reviews and has been featured on commercial/college radio and has been used in independent films. The Brighton Beat's follow up album, "Off We Go" was released in January 2015 and has been distributed around the world.

thebrightonbeat.com



Unfortunately cannot find any review for the new album ...

... please just check it out at their bandcamp!

Aug 5, 2016

Career Retrospective For Highlife Master Pat Thomas



This Fall, we’re proud to present the first full career retrospective release for Ghanaian highlife master and “The Golden Voice Of Africa,” Pat Thomas, covering his late ‘60s big band highlife recordings through to the “burger highlife” movement of the early ‘80s. With Thomas currently wowing audiences on the road in support of last year’s incredible album with Kwishibu Area Band, Coming Home offers listeners a chance to get to know Thomas’ singular career.

One of Thomas’ earliest tracks, with the Ebo Taylor lead Broadway Dance Band, is streaming below. The partnership with Taylor would become one of the enduring forces in Ghanaian music during the ‘70s, creating a fresh, progressive new highlife sound. “Today, highlife has become the world’s music,” says Thomas, “and I am proud to still bring it to so many people.”

Pat Thomas – Coming Home is released 30th September on 2CD, 3LP and digital formats, and features exclusive photos and a full interview with Pat Thomas. Pre-orders are available now.

Strut Records.com


Jun 6, 2016

Pasteur Lappe - African Funk Experimentals (1979 To 1981)


Amazing compilation of Cameroonian funk master Pasteur Lappe. 

"The story begins in the 60s with a charming 19 year old Nicolas "Pasteur" Lappe becoming a sensation on Radio Adele in Douala Cameroun. He goes on to become the editor of Douala Gazette newspaper and become friends with other African music stars such as Tala AM, J Moboule and Fela Kuti. He also works tirelessly promoting new and upcoming local Cameroonian talent. After moving to Paris, a stint in Journalism school and publishing a book of poems "Chansons Negres" he finally settles into a new life of music in Paris.

Our hero makes a trio of albums from 1979 to 1981 with backing band and production collective called the Zulu Gang which include Douglas Mbida (who goes onto release several top flight albums himself) and Jacob Desvariaux (who went on to form Kassav). The three albums are full of diverse sounds; from driving funk, sweeping disco grooves, syrupy ballads, reggae, Jackson-five-esque pop to finger-lickin' soul. At their core though is the "Sekele" groove...; a movement to encompass the dance, grooves and vibes from his native Douala.

Our album opens up with the pulsating percussion and floor-filling bass groove of "More Sekele Movement". We then move onto Africa Seven favourite "Na Real Sekele Fo'Ya" which takes stabby moog bass synth to a whole new level of grooviness. "Sanaga Calkpso" is more experimental in comparison its moog groove would go onto to form the basis of a highlight of the debut Kassav album. "Hiembi Nin" is a song in two parts; half Shaft groove and half synthy Calypso. "Back To Funky" is dance funk and features Maryse Lappe guesting on vocals.

Opening up on side two of the record is the Rhodes and sax led jazz funk of "Mbale", followed by the clavinet groove, sleezy brass and politically charged lyrics. "Sekelemania" is a cool piece of tropical, calypso funk. Lead track from Album 2, the single "ABC" is stomping afro, pop funk delight closes proceedings."

boomkat.com
 
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In terms of being an afrobeat legend, Pasteur Lappe is Cameroon's Fela Kuti, an unsung hero who was ahead of the game back in the 1970s and 1980s, and one whose been famous for burning the pockets of many diggers nowadays. Luckily, Africa Seven have compiled some of his best work onto a ten-track LP, ranging from the funky oddities of "More Sekele Movement" or "Na Real Seke Fo'ya", to the future-zouk sound of "Sanaga Calypso", and plenty of jazzy, popped-out, disgruntled soulfulness to satisfy anyone from Gilles Peterson to Cherrystones. Heavy and warmly recommended.

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Next up on Africa Seven is the second edition of our African Funk Experimentals LPs. With these we took some of our favourite African artists, choose the most funky we can find and then put together a compilation of their choicest and funkiest tracks. Of course that may not be their most popular or best selling tracks...; but that's just fine. We are digging for the funk.

Step forward Cameroonian funk master Pasteur Lappe. The story begins in the 60s with a charming 19 year old Nicolas Pasteur Lappe becoming a sensation on Radio Adele in Douala Cameroun. He goes on to become the editor of Douala Gazette newspaper and become friends with other African music stars such as Tala AM, J Moboule and Fela Kuti. He also works tirelessly promoting new and upcoming local Cameroonian talent. After moving to Paris, a stint in Journalism school and publishing a book of poems Chansons Negres he finally settles into a new life of music in Paris.

Our hero makes a trio of albums from 1979 to 1981 with backing band and production collective called the Zulu Gang which include Douglas Mbida (who goes onto release several top flight albums himself) and Jacob Desvariaux (who went on to form Kassav). The three albums are full of diverse sounds; from driving funk, sweeping disco grooves, syrupy ballads, reggae, Jackson-five-esque pop to finger-lickin' soul. At their core though is the Sekele groove...; a movement to encompass the dance, grooves and vibes from his native Douala.

Our album opens up with the pulsating percussion and floor-filling bass groove of More Sekele Movement. We then move onto Africa Seven favourite Na Real Sekele Fo'Ya which takes stabby moog bass synth to a whole new level of grooviness. Sanaga Calkpso is more experimental in comparison its moog groove would go onto to form the basis of a highlight of the debut Kassav album. Hiembi Nin is a song in two parts; half Shaft groove and half synthy Calypso. Back To Funky is dance funk and features Maryse Lappe guesting on vocals.

Opening up on side two of the record is the Rhodes and sax led jazz funk of Mbale, followed by the clavinet groove, sleezy brass and politically charged lyrics. Sekelemania is a cool piece of tropical, calypso funk. Lead track from Album 2, the single ABC is stomping afro, pop funk delight closes proceedings.

The nostalgic poet, with Africa at his essence Pasteur Lappe, we salute you.

kudosrecords.co.uk 



Tracklist

A1 More Sekele Movement (Papa Ni Mama) 3:58
A2 Na Real Sekele Fo'Ya 6:21
A3 Sanaga Calypso 3:30
A4 Hiembi Nin (Hymne A La Vie) 3:45
A5 Back To Funky 3:26
B1 Mbale (Face To Face With The Truth) 3:48
B2 Na Man Pass Man (Na Iron De Cut Iron) 2:55
B3 Hommage A Eraste Nkom 5:31
B4 Sekelimania (Nku Bilam) 3:47
B5 ABC 3:08