Sep 22, 2009
The story of Ghetto Blaster begins in 1983, in Lagos, Nigeria. GHETTO BLASTER starts out by being the title of a musical documentary , which tells the story of a journey from Paris to Lagos made by Pascal Imbert, the band's first producer, and the two musicians Stéphane Blaess (guitar) and Romain (voice). Upon their arrival, the musicians of FELA & EGYPT 80's, Fela's previous group: Kiala Nzavotunga (guitar and voice), Ringo Avom (drums) and Udoh Essiet (percussions) join up with the French musicians, followed by Betty Ayaba (vocals), Frankie Ntoh Song (keyboards) and Willy N'For (bass and vocals). The co-creator with Fela of Afrobeat, drummer Tony Allen, contributes to getting GHETTO BLASTER on the road by giving guidance throughout the rehearsals.
They arrive in Paris in June 1983, and install themselves on a house boat anchored next to the Austerlitz train station, which they use as their living quarters as well as their rehearsal studio. The movie relating their adventures is broadcast for the first time in 1984 on national tv station Antenne 2. That same year, GHETTO BLASTER release the EP PREACHER MAN on Island Records. It is a big success right from the start.
1984 sees the release of the album PEOPLE on French label Mélodie, which was re-released by the company Follow Me in 2002. This release brings their music to a wider audience. GHETTO BLASTER embark on a tour of the USA and play first parts for such great musicians as Manu Dibango, Archie Shepp, Fela Kuti, Kool & the Gang, James Brown and Maceo Parker. At the end of the 80ies, the death of their singer Betty Ayaba, followed by that of their bass player Willy N'For in 1997, causes the group to disband for a while.
After a long silence, GHETTO BLASTER are back lead by Kiala, Frankie and the singer Myriam Betty. In 2003, Ghetto Blaster celebrated their 20th anniversary (1983-2003) by releasing their most recent album, RIVER NIGER. Since then, they have been playing many exciting dates in the great Paris clubs and in French and European festivals.
Ghetto Blaster keep alive the flame which was maintained for more than a quarter of a century by the godfather, Fela Kuti.
First, you have the incredible riffs, frantic rhythms poured into jazz, funk, rock, rhythm'n'blues and soul. Their afro beat with its special, modern style proves that they remain the pioneers of afro rock and afro jazz in Europe. The voices of african beat never die down. It has to be said that the group carried the afro beat wave in their wake through Europe, particularly in the 80s, before there was a lull in their activity. Then they came back in force, thanks to a second album which came out in 2003, and above all on stage, where they never let the fire cool on their fusion style, throbbing with an explosive groove.
While keeping their hold on the secrets of the afro beat temple, Ghetto invite us to new horizons, without confusing the genres, catalysing a new energy which tends towards the Rock'n'Funk'n'Blaster. Their latest album proves it. It symbolises their journey and their maturity. The lyrical soaring of " Batu Mwindu " takes you to Zaïre. " Je m'appelle Kiala " is a really fresh, open track which invites us to celebration among friends. After a few other musical escapades, we come back to the roots, as " Reality " well and truly proves that the reality of afro beat hits home as well as ever.
The group, which has only brought out two albums, never stops increasing the quality of its creative output. You can be sure that the future will bring us yet more sumptuous productions, synonymous with the consecration of such great efforts.
02. River Niger
03. Batu Mwindu
04. Ghetto Blaster 1974
05. Living in the Village
09. Je Mappelle
10. Happy Days
11. Mbanza Mpuena (Holy City)
12. Baninga Y Africa
13. Batu Mwindu (remix)
14. Bolingo (remix) and Outro
Labels: Ghetto Blaster