May 10, 2017

Calabar-Itu Road: Groovy Sounds From South Eastern Nigeria 1972-1982

 


When most people think about Nigerian music, the first thing that comes to mind is Lagos—the country’s main commercial center, the glittering megacity that spawned Yoruba-speaking music luminaries such as Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peters and Wizkid. But Nigeria is a country of rich diversity, especially in its music: From the Igbo highlife and rock bands of east-central region, to the deep Edo roots rhythms from the midwest, to the keening, ornamented Fulani melodies of the north. But one region whose music has remained largely underexplored is the south eastern land of the Efik and Ibibio ethnic groups in Cross River and Akwa Ibom State—the region colloquially referred to as “Calabar.” A cradle of culture, this region was one of the earliest outposts of Nigerian popular music. Its primordial rhythms traveled across the Atlantic during the slave trade to provide the part of the foundation for Afro-Cuban grooves that would go on to influence the development of jazz, rock & roll, R&B and funk. With the new Calabar-Itu Road compilation, Comb & Razor Sound presents15 heavy tracks recorded in the decade between 1972 and 1982, spotlighting rare music from “Calabar” superstars such as Etubom Rex Williams, Cross River Nationale, Charles “Effi” Duke, The Doves and Mary Afi Usuah. The package features a magazine-style booklet containing a wealth of information about the milieu with rare photographs and illustrations. The Calabar-Itu Road is the major artery linking modern-day Cross River and Akwa Ibom States. And Calabar-Itu Road: Groovy Sounds from South Eastern Nigeria (1972-1982) will link the region’s music to the rest of the world!

Limited edition for Black Friday RSD 2016!

hhv

May 5, 2017

Analog Africa: Pop Makossa - The Invasive Dance Beat Of Cameroon 1976-1984



The noteworthy reissue label dishes up another foot-shaking classic-in-the-making.
In 2009, Analog Africa’s founder Samy Ben Redjeb travelled to Cameroon and returned with enough music to document a shapeshifting era in the country’s popular music landscape.

Pop Makossa – The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976–1984 collects feverish funk and disco belters that “plugged Cameroon’s traditional makossa style into the modern world,” held together by a beat that has its origins in a funeral dance.

Out June 16, the 12-track compilation comprises tracks from the likes of teenage prodigy Bill Loko – whose monster hit ‘Nen Lambo’ you can hear below – producer Mystic Djim and Dream Stars’ jewel-in-the-crown, ‘Pop Makossa Invasion’. See the full tracklist below.

Framed by an incredible cover image that depicts a figure wearing a traditional mask in the midst of a modern Cameroonian city, Pop Makossa follows last year’s superb Space Echo compilation and is set to be another coveted release from the ever-reliable imprint.

factmag.com

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An explosive  compilation highlighting the era when funk and disco sounds  began to infiltrate Cameroon's Makossa style. The beat that holds everything together originate's from the Sawa people's rhythms. When these rhythms collided with merengue, high-life, Congolese rumba, and, later, funk and disco, modern Makossa was born. Makossa, the beat that long before football, managed to unify the whole of Cameroon. Some of the greatest Makossa hits incorporated the electrifying guitars and tight grooves of funk, while others were laced with cosmic synth flourishes.

However, most of this music's vibe came down to the bass, and 'Pop Makossa' demonstrates why many Cameroonian bass players are among the most revered in the world.

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Double LP version. Gatefold sleeve with 20-page booklet; 140 gram vinyl. The Pop Makossa adventure started in 2009, when Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb first travelled to Cameroon to make an initial assessment of the country's musical situation. He returned with enough tracks for an explosive compilation highlighting the period when funk and disco sounds began to infiltrate the makossa style popular throughout Cameroon. From the very beginning, there were several mysteries hanging over Pop Makossa. It was not until DJ and music producer Déni Shain was dispatched to Cameroon to finalize the project, license the songs, scan photographs, and interview the artists that some of the biggest question marks began to disappear. His journey from the port city of Douala to the capital of Yaoundé brought him in contact with the lives and stories of many of the musicians who had shaped the sound of Cameroon's dance music in its most fertile decade. The beat that holds everything together has its origins in the rhythms of the Sawa people: ambassey, bolobo, assiko and essewé, a traditional funeral dance. But it wasn't until these rhythms arrived in the cities of Cameroon and collided with merengue, high-life, Congolese rumba, and, later, funk and disco, that modern makossa was born. Makossa managed to unify the whole of Cameroon, and it was successful in part because it was so adaptable. Some of the greatest makossa hits incorporated the electrifying guitars and tight grooves of funk, while others were laced with cosmic flourishes made possible by the advent of the synthesizer. However much came down to the bass; and from the rubbery hustle underpinning Mystic Djim's "Yaoundé Girls" to the luminous liquid disco lines which propel Pasteur Lappé's "Sekele Movement", Pop Makossa demonstrates why Cameroonian bass players are some of the most revered in the world. "Pop Makossa Invasion", an obscure tune recorded for Radio Buea makes its debut here and joins the pantheon of extraordinary songs that plugged Cameroon's makossa style into the modern world. Also features: Dream Stars, Mystic Djim & The Spirits, Bill Loko, Eko, Olinga Gaston, Emmanuel Kahe et Jeanette Kemogne, Nkodo Si-Tony, Bernard Ntone, Pat' Ndoye, and Clément Djimogne.

forcedexposure.com 


Tracklist
 
01. Dream Stars – ‘Pop Makossa Invasion’
02. Mystic Djim & The Spirits – ‘Yaoundé Girls’
03. Bill Loko – ‘Nen Lambo’
04. Pasteur Lappé – ‘Sanaga Calypso’
05. Eko – ‘M’ongele M’am’
06. Olinga Gaston – ‘Ngon Engap’
07. Emmanuel Kahe et Jeanette Kemogne – ‘Ye Medjuie’
08. Nkodo Si-Tony – ‘Mininga Meyong Mese’
09. Pasteur Lappé – ‘The Sekele Movement’
10. Bernard Ntone – ‘Mussoliki’
11. Pat’ Ndoye – ‘More Love’
12. Clément Djimogne – ‘Africa’



Mar 30, 2017

From South Africa: Black Disco - Night Express



Press ‘play’ and the soulful notes of Basil ‘Mannenberg’ Coetzee’s saxophone tell you two things. First, Night Express is great music. But, second, the sound doesn’t fit neatly into any of the mid-70s South African musical genre boxes. This was an era when Abdullah Ibrahim’s music spoke to popular audiences as well as jazz fundis, with the bump jive mood of Mannenberg as representative as the more abstract piano explorations of Underground in Africa. It was also the heyday of Soweto Soul, when groups such as Jacob ‘Mpharanyana’ Radebe’s Cannibals melded hoarse lead vocals, sweet female backing choruses and Ray Phiri’s fiery guitar into South Africa’s answer to the Stax sound.

There are flavours of all of these in Night Express, and something else too: a quiet wistfulness that’s slightly more Philly than Memphis. Maybe it’s those insistent Yamaha organ riffs with which Ismail ‘Pops’ Mohamed underpins the themes… or maybe it’s something more. Because Night Express was not only a funky, compelling hit record in its day. It was also part of a series of ‘70s releases, three as Black Disco and two as Movement in the City, that were a declaration of musical identity from communities whose jazz histories have hardly been documented yet: the apartheid-defined ‘coloured’ townships of Johannesburg’s East Rand.

For the ideologues of apartheid, ‘coloured’ was a genetic destiny. In truth, the category encompassed many: families of mixed heritage; descendants of the Khoi, San and Griqua peoples; and others who did not fit (or did not wish to fit) neatly within the regime’s other rigid racial categories. Confined together by residence controls, these communities developed their own vibrant cultural life. They were neither homogenous (Cape Town’s musical tastes were subtly different from those of Johannesburg) nor insulated, despite the regime’s best efforts, from the currents of black urban popular music. Mohamed’s home suburb, Reiger Park—formerly Stirtonville—abutted both the black township of Vosloorus and, earlier, the hard to police informal settlement of Kalamazoo, and musical and social sharing offered lived defiance to apartheid.

Mohamed had started his musical journey at Dorkay House, where he studied guitar and was able to hear the rehearsals of jazz legends such as saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi. Later, it became one of his meeting and rehearsal spaces. “Me being from the East Rand,” he says, “I saw the Jo’burg guys as somewhere up there. I was in awe.” By the early 1970s, not long out of school, he was working with an outfit called The Dynamics, influenced by the assertive Soweto Soul sound of groups such as The Cannibals and The Beaters (later Harari). “I was also listening to a lot of Timmy Thomas—I loved the track Why Can’t We Live Together?—and I’d acquired a Yamaha organ to explore that kind of sound.”

Just before the first Black Disco album was made, Rashid Vally’s As-Shams label (which also handled The Dynamics) had released Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mannenberg. Mohamed already knew bassist Sipho Gumede from Dorkay House. At Vally’s Kohinoor record store, he was introduced to Capetonian Coetzee, still in town after the Mannenberg recording session. “Rashid said: ‘This is Pops—he’s a new guy and he’s got compositions. Why don’t you guys talk...?’” Mohamed remembers. A vehicle was hired to bring his Yamaha from his home, and the first Black Disco album was cut: a trio with no drummer.

“We had one hit track from that,” says Mohamed. “Dark Clouds was hugely popular in the coloured townships. It had a bass line inspired by Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. We did it in the Gallo Studios in about two hours—no re-takes. And on that track, Basil speeded the tune up with a long solo over the bass line, which made the track incredibly powerful”. At that time, Mohamed was still feeling his way through jazz-style soloing. “Sipho and Basil told me: just play what your heart is telling you. They were my mentors.”

The success led to a second recording session, this time with drummer Peter Morake, for a new album initially called Black Discovery/Night Express—until the censor decided that ‘black discovery’ (Coetzee’s idea, with the scorching eleven minute Night Express, his composition, two were by Mohamed, and the rest covers) sounded far too revolutionary.

Night Express was an instant hit, and Black Disco (one of several names the group bore, with shifting personnel when Gumede or Coetzee were not in town) was able to graduate from its previous three-hour afternoon sessions in township school halls. “You needed a hell of a repertoire,” recalls Mohamed. “Most songs were very short in those days.” After Night Express, they were welcomed by more upmarket venues such as Club Matador, Club New York and Planet Fordsburg, a nightclub with a ballroom upstairs where, rather than screaming groupies, they played for older, more affluent listeners interested in discussing the music.

“The sound the three of us had developed,” says Mohamed, “was very special. We were bridging between a Jo’burg and a Cape Town feel—but still keeping the funk alive.” For Mohamed’s community, “the people who were looked up to were Richard Jon Smith, Danny Williams and Sammy Brown from Kliptown. Gamble and Huff, pioneers of the Philadelphia soul sound, had heard him singing somehow and wrote to Gallo suggesting they’d like to write a song for him. And Gallo said: ‘We don’t pay that kind of money for songs even for our white musicians, let alone for a coloured performer!’ When I had a hit with Black Disco, the community became proud of me in a similar way.”

“But it was always very important for us not to stay inside the classification. The regime divided us: people classified coloured had identity documents; black people had the dompas. We didn’t accept that separation. Sipho, although he was born in KZN, could play any feel. Sometime he’d joke and ask me: ‘Does my bass line feel coloured enough?’”

Despite the hits, it had not been easy making a living from the music. Mohamed tells of finding an entire album of his had been credited to a mysterious composer called ‘R. Richards’, preventing him from collecting royalties. “Albums got very limited promotion. We never even knew,” he says, “when our royalties were due, and had to go and beg cash advances. And if they didn’t feel like paying you…”

Mohamed had worked with several bands, including Les Valiants in the late 1960s, The Dynamics, El Gringo’s and finally Society’s Children, who scored a massive hit with Mohamed’s 1975 composition I’m a Married Man. But the growing weight of repression culminating in the Soweto Uprising in 1976, were leading to a shift in his music. Increasingly “I was unhappy with playing all those covers. I wanted a reason for playing. It was no longer enough just to have hits.”

He describes his earlier formations as “experiments”—Black Disco gave Mohamed his direction. After Night Express, he went on to become a co-founder of Movement in the City, with Cape Town drummer Monty Webber. “The name was code for let’s fight the system. It was a very dark time for us, personally and politically, and their two albums including Black Teardrops (another title the censor didn’t like) came from that emotional place.”

Increasingly, Mohamed’s searching took him towards his roots. “I figured that protecting and preserving our indigenous music could be my contribution to the struggle. We must know our heritage. I thought: if the Boers take that from us, we’re fucked.”

So Mohamed’s journey, which began as a boyish organ player doodling Timmy Thomas-style riffs on Night Express has now brought him to a role today as a kora master and producer, collaborating with Khoisan traditional healers and their music. But the Black Disco group was, for him, where it all started. “It was so important for us to play a kind of crossover then. To weave in the touches of Motown, Philadelphia soul and Teddy Pendergrass that the coloured community appreciated, and Basil’s Cape Town sound, and Sipho’s sound that was legendary in the black community, and make music that people could all enjoy together. It was our way of saying: We are with you.”

matsulimusic.bandcamp.com

Mar 29, 2017

Orlando Julius & The Ashiko - Love, Peace & Happiness


Official reissue of one of the hardest to find albums by the Afro Soul maestro, a pure Afro Funk spiritual grail from 1978!

Born in 1943 in Ikole-Ekiti in Ondo State, Nigeria, Orlando Julius Ekemode (“Orlando was really a nickname, taken from the Nigerian actor, Orlando Martins“) had started in music from an early age, becoming the school drummer and learning flute, bugle and other instruments at St Peters Anglican School in Ikole-Ekiti. Nigerian musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is credited as one of the first musicians to fuse US R&B into traditional highlife music, creating his own influential Afrobeat sound during the mid-‘60s. From his time playing in the USA during the 1970s onwards, he is credited with bringing African music to a broader audience and famously co- composed the song ‘Going Back To My Roots’ with Lamont Dozier.

In 1978 , Orlando Julius Ekemode decided to produce himself this amazing session, originally recorded between Maryland and West Virginia (USA ) and released in limited quantity in Nigeria by the obscure label Jungle records .

6 stunning monster Afro Funk tracks , recorded by 8 musicians based in Oakland. Fully licensed with the artist and remastered by Carvery. Essential!



Mar 28, 2017

Vincent Ahehehinnou - Best Woman

 

In early 1978, Vincent Ahehehinnou left the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou without explanation. He had been one of their principal vocalist since 1968 and had helped transform them from a hard-charging nightclubband into a musical powerhouse and Africa-wide sensation. By the end of 1977, after an explosive performance at the pan-African arts and culture festival (Festac77) in Lagos, the band had reached the very pinnacle of their success.

For nearly forty years, the reasons behind Vincent’s sudden departure have remained a mystery. Until now. In an interview included with Analog Africa’s new reissue of Best Woman – Vincent’s first post-Poly-Rythmo album, which has been out-of-print for close to four decades and nearly impossible to find outside West Africa – the great singer finally breaks his silence. He didn’t leave … he was pushed.

Poly-Rythmo were already popular in their native Benin but, in the aftermath of Festac ’77, the band were poised for break-out success throughout Africa. One of the people who stood to benefit most was the band’s manager Adissa Seidou, whose label Albarika Store had released most of the band’s recordings. However Adissa’s vision for Poly-Rythmo didn’t always line up with that of the musicians and, more often than not, it was Vincent who spoke up for the band.

The two men grew increasingly estranged until one day – at the funeral for Adissa’s father no less – Adissa gave Vincent an ultimatum of sorts. In Vincent’s own words: ‘I asked him if there is a way we could sort out our differences to which he replied that the only solution was for me to leave the band, adding, “if not I will kill you”’. And so Vincent found himself forced out of the band he had helped build. He tried his hand at various business ventures, but soon realised that the pull of music was too strong. On a business trip to Nigeria, Vincent met with Ignace de Souza of Benin’s Black Santiago band, who agreed to arrange Vincent’s songs, assemble musicians, and book a session at the legendary Decca Studios in Lagos.

With everything in place Vincent returned to Cotonou, gathered together all the money he had saved over the years and set out again for Lagos. But the simple bus journey to Nigeria turned into a nightmarish odyssey of military corruption … and had it not been for the random kindness of an unknown woman on the bus, this album – along with Vincent’s subsequent solo career – might never have existed. Vincent tells the full story in the liner notes to this LP.

But Vincent did make it to Lagos and the sessions went ahead. The nine-piece band, handpicked by de Souza, learned the songs and set them to tape in the span of only a week … but the results are as timeless and essential as anything to emerge from West Africa in the late 1970s.

Vincent’s afrobeat credentials are in full evidence on opening track ‘Best Woman’ (English) whose driving beat, focussed horns and intricate vocal melody recall the raucous intensity of Poly-Rythmo. But the deep funk of the title track turns out to be only a warm-up for album-highlight ‘Maimouna Cherie’ (French), a moving expression of love and longing which kicks off with a hi-hat and wah-wah guitar workout but shifts gears mid-way into a more concentrated and contemplative groove.

The funk and afrobeat gems on Best Woman are balanced by songs that draw upon Sato, one of the many Vodoun rhythms of Vincent’s native Benin. Side one concludes with ‘Vi Deka’ (Mina), an epic slow-burner propelled by some of the record’s most soulful vocals, while album closer ‘Wa Do Verite Ton Noumi’ (Fon) all but dares you not to lose yourself in its sublime hypnotic trance.

Best Woman was released on Nigeria’s Hasbunalau Records in 1978, and original pressings are now highly-prized collector’s items. With this reissue on Analog Africa’s Dance Edition imprint – newly mastered by Nick Robbins, cut by to vinyl by Frank Merritt at the Carvery, and approved by Vincent himself – Best Woman makes a welcome and long-overdue return to turntables around the world.

hhv

Mar 24, 2017

New album: Big Mean Sound Machine - Runnin' for the Ghost


“BMSM might be one of my favorite bands on the planet. With a horn section to kill for, a drummer that can put me in a beat coma instantly, and a knack for hitting grooves in a pantsless stride, they aren't easy to ignore,” -Joel Frieders, SYFFAL.com

For a band with no lead singer, Big Mean Sound Machine has character in spades. When assembled from a selection of the finest, well-lubricated, musically brilliant components, the resulting machine is the sonic equivalent of a positive feeling. “The embodiment of feeling… delicious,” writes Frieders. People dance when a rhythm moves them, and there’s no defying instinct when Big Mean Sound Machine is on stage. Anyone who has experienced the band in action knows that their performances are the heaviest and sweatiest. “Incorporating Caribbean, African and Latin sounds, and everything in between, these musicians sound as though they’ve been playing together since the sandbox days. They transition effortlessly from a collective... to riveting soloists, and when [they’re] not playing simultaneously, those... stepping aside are jamming out as if they were in the crowd with the rest of us,” writes Mary Mistretta of UpstateLIVE. A polyrhythmic monster with a crisp, constant, unrelenting groove, the band brings together many musical traditions in a unique blend that reinterprets and reanimates live dance music unlike any other band playing today.


THE ALBUM

Their fourth studio album, "Runnin' for the Ghost" captures the essence of the band’s renowned energetic and transcendent live shows into a concise, portable experience wherever it may be desired -- in the car, at home, work, or in the club. After over seven years of rigorous touring and three acclaimed, full-length studio albums, Big Mean Sound Machine is proud to present a rich sonic journey through their freshest material, their self-stated, "best album to date." With this record, the band hopes to continue building on the success of their previous releases and with your contribution, this world-class album can achieve the exposure it truly deserves.

bigmeansoundmachine.com
bigmeansoundmachine.bandcamp.com



Mar 12, 2017

Nigerian Boogie: Livy Ekemezie - Friday Night



Here it is.., a reissue treatment for one of the most sought after Nigerian boogie albums. So groovy.., so good.. Afro-boogie lovers, you just got served! TIPPP!

Some words from Livy:

“I was just out of senior secondary school and I wanted to make an album,” recalls Ekemezie. “I was into disco and funk at the time and I was looking for a bassdriven funky sound. The entire idea was to make an album that sounded like something made in London or the U.S. I tried to sound “American” but we ended up with something else: a mix of American and Nigerian.” ‘Friday Night’ was recorded at Goddy Oku’s Godiac 24-track recording studio in Enugu, one of the best studios available in Nigeria at the time. “It took about 9 months to a year to make the album,” continues Ekemezie. “I financed it by myself so I had to resort to friends helping out with loans for session men and studio time. The original LP was released on blue vinyl and that idea came from William Onyeabor. We used his pressing plant and he sold the idea to me. It was different so I said ‘why not?’” The LP has been picked up by many in recent months as the demand for Nigerian disco originals has grown with the track ‘Delectation’ receiving an unofficial edit and DJs like Motor City Ensemble dropping the album into their sets. This first ever reissue of the LP remains faithful to the original issue, remastered and pressed on blue vinyl. It features full original artwork along with new interviews with Livy Ekemezie and contributing musician Jules Elong by Odion Livingstone’s Temi Kogbe. 

rushhour