Dec 20, 2011
JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra are an instrumental band playing music based on Afrobeat. Spiritually influenced by the great Fela Kuti, "JariBu" (which means "Try" in Swahili language) have created their own "Neo Afrobeat" sound, interweaving traditional afrobeat with funk and jazz sounds.
In April 2009, they released their 1st album "Afro Sound System", which was critically acclaimed by many DJs and radio producers. The CDs sold out but the album is still available in digital format. After participating in the "FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 09" (the biggest and best known festival in Japan) in the summer of that year, they then started to search for ways to expand and develope their afrobeat sound and began recording a new album. A 7" single, "Legend of Yoruba Part 1&2" was released in late 2010, which was very well-received, and this is one of the cuts from the new album "MEDIACRACY" to be released in October 2011.
Over the past couple of years, JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra have established themselves as one of the most exciting live bands on the Tokyo scene. They currently play three to four gigs a month, including their own popular monthly event "Natural Vibes" at "Plug" in Shibuya and are the undisputed leaders of the Japanese afrobeat scene.
JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra
Regular readers of Tokyo Jazz Notes will most probably be familiar with the name JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra by now as I have featured a number of reviews of gigs and releases over couple of years. Through their exciting shows with highly danceable grooves and powerful horn arrangements, this 13-piece outfit have established themselves as one of the most enjoyable live acts to watch on the Tokyo circuit.
We can now welcome the long-awaited release of the band's first fully distributed album, Mediacracy, containing an hour of music including some of the mainstays of live sets over the past year or so. The already phenomenal horn section is expanded on the recordings with guest appearances from Temjin from Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro on trumpet, Hirose Takao (Jazz Collective/Masa Sextet) on trombone and Takao Watanabe (from pikaia/NICE MIDDLE with New Blue Day Horns) also on trumpet, making an even fuller and powerful sound, and Pardon Kimura at the mixing desk keeps the integrity and immediacy of the live shows in the production.
The album opens with the funky guitar hook and percussion of the title track and a typical afrobeat-style voice over with politically inflected verse before the bass and drums kick in with a highly infectious beat layered with a luscious extended key solo. The whole thing is then lifted to another level as the horn riff blasts you away. Sax and trombone solos follow but the dance rhythms never let up for a second. The pace shifts slightly for another vocal section with a sing-a-long backing vocals before the main riff picks up once again for the close. Nine minutes of absolute killer grooves that is real statement of intent and confirmation that JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra mean business.
Suffer Dey is a mid-tempo number with a shuffling beat and despite the title, the main riff together with the trumpet and flute solos and the vocal refrain of "One day, one day" give the whole tune a very positive an uplifting feeling. And this mood carries us straight into Legend Of Yoruba, previously released as a single and already something of a dancefloor classic. Driven by an amazing flute performance, this is afrobeat at its funkiest and a tune that must rank with the best of the best in the new wave of afrobeat bands from different corners of the globe.
From the percussive interlude of Mvua Dance, we then head into Afro Soul Knows, which opens with some very funky wah-wah guitar and the full horn section. As with Fela Kuti's music, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra tracks that feature vocals have lyrics that either carry a political message or are a tribute to the herbal muse, and Afro Soul Knows falls into the latter category, though some of the detail is lost behind the sing-a-long backing chorus, and with the focus mainly on the dance rhythms throughout, this doesn't really matter.
It's the bassline that drives Tricky Liars, another live favourite, and eleven minutes of unrelenting high tempo deep afro funk. Over the course of the song you have all of elements of the band's sound coming to the fore, whether its the heavy bass, afrobeat drums and percussion, stabbing horn riffs, funky guitar or call and response vocals, all adding up to a very heady mix.
Meneno Ya Roho is another interlude that signals a shift of pace to N.N.G., something of an epic psychedelic number that moves along to a shuffling drum beat, with Ray Manzarek-style keys leading the way before the horn section refrain comes in after a couple of minutes. The sax solo that starts at around the four minute mark is simply awesome and this portion of the track is deliciously trippy and is somewhat appropriately followed by a vocal section calling for legalisation, before more psych keys for the extended final section. The album closes with Natural Vibes, an uplifting instrumental dance tune that shares its name with the band's monthly event at Plug in Shibuya.
Mediacracy is a strong album all-round that successfully carries the energy and power of their live shows onto disc. Original and deep afrobeat grooves from the heart of Tokyo that will appeal to fans of afrobeat, funk and jazz alike, this album is highly recommended.
MEDIACRACY Sample by JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra
02. Suffer Dey
03. Legend Of Yoruba
04. Mvua Dance
05. Afro Soul Knows
06. Tricky Liars
07. Maneno ya roho
09. Natural Vibes
Labels: JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra
Dec 19, 2011
Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about this album ... therefore, here's just the tracklist ...
01. Tell Me What You Want 16:16
02. Peace Is Wishdom
03. Don't Chase My Woman
04. Anyi Bu Ofu 16:32
05. Don't Lose Your Faithful One
06. Lost Love Is Back
01. Tell Me What You Want 16:16
02. Peace Is Wishdom
03. Don't Chase My Woman
04. Anyi Bu Ofu 16:32
05. Don't Lose Your Faithful One
06. Lost Love Is Back
Labels: Thony Shorby Nyenwi
Dec 16, 2011
Underground System was among the better recordings of Fela's late career, comprised of two extended tracks, the title cut and "Pansa Pansa." "Underground System" starts off with rhythms that are far faster and more urgent than those on most of Fela's characteristically lengthy tracks. If that sounds like a marginal quality upon which to judge a song as a standout, well, something like a much faster and played-as-though-we-mean-it tempo really does help to differentiate it from the singer's generally similar output of the 1980s and 1990s. The backup singers also come in quickly with infectious chants, prior to a typical Fela lyric observing the difficulty in enacting positive political change in Africa. Hearing them sing in tandem with Fela instead of doing call-response patterns, as they do during much of the 28-minute cut, also makes for a refreshing variation. "Pansa Pansa," at a mere (for Fela) 17 minutes, also gets your attention more than his average effort, with rapid propulsive beats and sprinkles of slightly dissonant jazzy piano. The 2001 CD reissue on MCA adds a half-hour song from his 1990 album, ODOO, which is considerably slower and moodier than the prior two tunes, the beginning emphasizing mournful electric keyboards and sax soloing.
This album contains one of Fela Kuti's most direct and suitably scathing political attacks. Backed by Egypt '80, Kuti's unrelenting cries for justice and equality are at the foreground of the A-side title track, "Underground System." The stretched-out instrumental sections contain fierce, tightly knit rhythms around which Kuti and company deliver an impassioned choral call and response during the verses. Most specifically, "Underground System" is a fable of the behind-the-scenes puppet mastery and indelible hypocrisy in African politics. The melody is trancelike in its repetition, and the driving beats allow room for Oyinade Adeniran (tenor sax) and Rilwan Fagbemi (baritone sax) to unleash a few vital blows -- which have the same impassioned intonations and open-ended improvisational skills as a Sonny Rollins or Gerry Mulligan. This track is stretched out to nearly a half hour and is notable for the occasional drop-dead pause -- which is practically startling in contrast to the continuously throbbing tribal funk. Kuti's vocals -- roughly translated in the liner notes of the 2001 reissue -- are as fervent as any of his previously overtly political statements. The same is true of his piano solos -- which are rooted in a similarly freewheeling and melodic approach as Thelonious Monk, Terry Adams, and Sun Ra. "Pansa Pansa" became one of the tunes most synonymous with the anti-establishment leanings of Kuti and his Egypt '80 band. Although Underground System/Just Like That was not issued until the early '90s, this track has roots that reach back to the mid-'70s -- when Kuti was at the height of his political and social influence. Many of his most ardent enthusiasts and supporters took "Pansa Pansa" -- which is translated as "more and more" -- to become their rallying cry. The tiresome double standard under which they lived likewise encouraged African youth to take up the gauntlet, and soon Fela became a known nuisance to the concurrently governing regime. [The 2001 CD reissue also adds the track "Confusion Break Bones (C.B.B.)" -- which had been initially issued on the ODOO (1989) long-player.]
The last album of newly recorded material to be released during Kuti's lifetime, 1992's Underground System is a fitting swansong. Instrumentally, the rocket-fuelled title track's spotlight is as much on piano as it is on the horns, in line with the shift in emphasis introduced on Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense. Lyrically, it is as deep as it is hard-hitting.
Kuti originally conceived the piece as a tribute to Burkina Faso's revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara. The two men knew and liked each other: Sankara admired Kuti's music as much as Kuti admired Sankara's espousal of African values and commitment to social change. But following Sankara's assassination in 1987, Kuti broadened the lyric, turning it into an attack on the "underground system" by which military and political elites throughout Africa conspired together to remove any emergent leader threatening the status quo (and the post-colonial hegemony's ability to keep its trotters in the trough). In passing, General Obasanjo and Moshood Abiola (see the I.T.T. International Thief Thief commentary) are also named and shamed.
"Pansa Pansa," also taken at a furious pace, was first performed (but not recorded) by Kuti in mid 1977, one of several brave responses to the army's destruction of Kalakuta earlier that year. Citing some of the 1970s albums which particularly angered the authorities—including Alagbon Close, Before I Jump Like Monkey Give Me Banana, Zombie and Kalakuta Show—Kuti vowed never to be muzzled. The more injustices Nigeria's rulers heaped on its people, the "pansa pansa" (literally, the "more more") he would protest against them. The final track, "Confusion Break Bones," in which Kuti turns his attention from state-sponsored brutality to government economic incompetence, was originally released on Overtake Don Overtake Overtake.
Read the full article at allaboutjazz!
Fela starts the song in Underground System by saying he had sang songs for great African men: Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana was for him the greatest of all. In the same breath, he had sang songs against African thieves: Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian President and M.K.O. Abiola; late chairman of ITT Middle East and Africa, are the biggest thieves. He went on to explain that many young folks in Africa today may not know about Kwame Nkrumah because of the diabolic conspiracy which consists in keeping Africans away from knowing who they should look up to as role models. For Fela, those who know or read about Nkrumah will agree that there are not many like him in the history of Africa, he was African personality personified. He worked throughout his adult life for black pride and African unity. Unfortunately, because of the Underground System they try to protect, whenever Africa finds a charismatic leader determined to change things on the continent, other stooges passing as leaders will conspire to destroy such a leader. Fela mentions how Nkrumah was destroyed by the Western powers who wanted to keep Africa latched to their colonial masters. Sekou Toure suffered the same fate. Ahmed Ben Bella, Patrice Lumumba, Modibo Keita, Gamel Abdu’Nasser, even Mandela—they didn’t want him to arrive as head of a free South Africa. Everywhere in the world, people look up to their role model for inspiration. Fela then brings us to the story of Thomas Sankara. Saying Africa, since the passing of the leaders mentioned above, had not seen a charismatic leader like Sankara. He was one of the few who were not afraid to speak the truth. Calling on other African heads of state to come together and unite, living a modest life compared to those who only preoccupation was to line their pockets with money stolen from their respective countries. Fela says that, despite the attempt by corrupt African leaders to protect their crimes in an Underground System, everything in the world is in turns: they can conspire to kill Sankara today, but can never kill the ideals he lived and was murdered for.
Pansa Pansa was Fela’s most defiant statement to the Nigerian military rulers of his determination to champion the cause of Pan Africanism. Mid 1976, when Fela started to play this track live, musically he was at his zenith—extremely popular throughout Africa. Politically, his message was beginning to get across. Youths in Nigeria were beginning to identify with the Fela ideals and registering en-mass at the Africa Shrine headquarters of the new grassroots movement Fela had inaugurated and called: The Young African Pioneers. Economically, it was the peak of the oil boom. Oil was selling for a minimum of $700 US dollars a barrel. Nigeria never had it better, careering along on at least two million barrels of sulphur-low oil, pumped daily and sold on the world market. Fela has just signed a twelve album a year deal with DECCA Records. The record industry was booming—people were buying records. At government’s level, it was corruption galore including those in the highest echelon of government. Denunciations and criticism from Fela had brought him in open confrontation with the military rulers on previous occasions, some of which he had sang into songs: Alagbon Close! No Bread! Monkey Banana! Zombie! Go Slow! Kalakuta Show! The release of all these songs angered the military establishment in Nigeria and most times prompted attacks on Fela and Kalakuta republic residents. For Fela however, despite all the repression: “…as long as Africa is Suffering! No Freedom! No Justice! No Happiness!, They will never hear PANSA PANSA”(meaning they will hear more and more).
Confusion Break Bones (C.B.B.) (originally released on O.D.O.O. album)
In Confusion Break Bones(C.B.B.), Fela mentions the earlier song he wrote titled ‘CONFUSION’ where he compared the present African situation (with particular reference to Nigeria), as an example of a crossroad in the centre of town with a permanent traffic jam — “..na confusion be that oh!”. Despite this graphic picture painted in “Confusion”, some people feel optimistic that one day the Nigerian situation will improve: ‘…Nigeria go better!’, Fela felt the contrary because he did not share their optimism, he did not see why a continent as rich as Africa, with all the natural resources, will have the majority of their population existing below the poverty: ‘how country go make money and people of the country no see money’. Continuing, Fela says: ‘…I see many wrong things for Nigeria!’, citing as an example of such wrongs, the acts of economic sabotage perpetrated by people in high places, only to punish the poor for the fallout of such wrongs. Government prohibits some articles, but such articles find their way into the market despite prohibition. However government agents; i.e.: the police, army, etc., seize such articles from the poor, whose livelihood depend on the little profit they make selling such articles. Fela asked in this song why destroy such article by burning? Why not give them out to people for free? Particularly since these articles are needed by the people and because of the disorganization that is government, people profit from smuggling the prohibited articles into the country. Singing about all these problems was no new news for Fela. He had done this all his professional life — putting everything at risk. He feels it is no news(old news) to talk about all the mismanagement of African lives by various administrations: ‘If I say! Road no dey? (that is old news). ‘…No Food for the people!’ (another old news), mismanagement? That is old news (‘na old news be that!’), stealing by authority?(another old news). Inflation! Corruption! all are not new. The only solution is to have the right government in power thinking in terms of African cultural values. That is the only government that can hold in the centre-creating a power base for all parts of the continent. Fela reminds us that if we allow power to break in the centre the result is what we see in our daily lives: corruption, armed robbery, police and army brutality, anarchy, etc. Fela concludes this song by reminding us that what passes as government in Africa today, is like the crossroad at Ojuelegba in the heart of Lagos, with no traffic light and no traffic warden ‘Na Confusion Break Bones!’. Another double wahala (double problem).
Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
Dec 15, 2011
Top Ghanaian guitarist who started with Dr. K. Gyasi and the Noble Kings before joining the Sweet Talks. This album recorded in Togo and Ghana was release back in the 1980's and is just superb. Thomas Frempong is the lead vocalist for the last three while Agyaaku does the first and Eric and Osei Tutu provide the backing. Lovely all the way through.
01. Wonko Menko?
02. Nya Abotare Ma Be
03. Odo Bra
04. Men Koaa
Dec 13, 2011
After helping Fela Anikulapo Kuti with Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense, Wally Badarou was back in the producer's chair for this effort, which was political in the extreme. That is to say, Kuti was in an extremely confrontational mood. The cover pictures former South African president P.W. Botha, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan as horned vampires with blood dripping from their mouths. The music is more of the same, the grooves are typically sinuous, but the lyrics are venom-filled with Kuti referring to the aforementioned trio as "Animals wan dash our human rights." After a few so-so records in the early '80s, Beasts of No Nation was a strong (at times stunning) return to form for Kuti and signaled that his political beliefs kept him from becoming musically lazy.
By time of the two half-hour tracks on this CD reissue, Kuti's lyrics were as confrontational and critical of government behavior as ever. The revolutionary aspects of his music, however, had been dulled by the repetition of his formula over many years. "Beasts of No Nation," a half-hour track from 1989, is not one of his more memorable grooves or sequences of interchanges among instruments and lead-backup vocals. The lyrics were characteristic comments on his personal situation, though. The first song he wrote in 1986 after leaving prison, it comments on the behavior of the judge (who apologized to him in a prison hospital for his conviction), and also weaves critique of the United Nations into the tune. "O.D.O.O. (Overtake Don Overtake Overtake)," from 1990, protests the negative effects of military regimes in Africa -- not a new theme for his work, though certainly one worthy of ongoing concern. Percussive prominence and variation plays a stronger role in this cut than it does in some of Fela's other work. Yet structurally, his music's navigation through numerous instrumental passages and sequencing of instrumental and vocal parts is almost as predictable as a graph of the temperature rising as water is boiled.
At first listen, Fela seems unfocused on Beasts of No Nation / ODOO. Extended songs are a long-standing trademark of Fela's afrobeat, but in most cases the song's length is propelled by the energetic strength of Fela's music and the conviction in his message. His seeming lack of focus makes the half-hour tracks on this recording seem overlong. However, Beasts of No Nation / ODOO were a pair of relatively late-period albums for Fela (roughly 1988), and the toll that decades of imprisonment and beatings had taken on him is well-documented. Close listening reveals that the strength of this recording lies not in his slightly diminished charisma, but by the evolution in his compositions and the realization of this evolution through his band, the Egypt 80.
Considering that Fela's performances (even on record) always had an improvisatory aspect to them, the Egypt 80 proves to be a highly flexible and responsive group. In comparison to the hard-driving Africa 70, The Egypt 80 was more attuned to the texture and subtleties that Fela was developing in his late-period work. Although the Africa 70 excelled in executing highly complex beats derived from local traditions, Beasts of No Nation / ODOO shows that Fela was experimenting beyond the boundaries his previous work. Repeated listening reveals some of his most complex arrangements and memorable melodic material, seamlessly bound into an improvisatory tapestry. It does not take too much effort to visualize Fela conducting the Egypt 80 like an orchestra in the same way that Frank Zappa conducted his bands.
However, one can't help but feel that on some level Fela is repeating himself. Despite the subtle strength of the overall composition, his direct quotation of "Zombie", "Suffering and Schmiling", "Unknown Soldier", and several other of his "greatest hits" in ODOO feels a little more like nostalgic lip service than relevant political dialouge.
The Lowdown: Listen really closely to this one. Although Fela's usual politics are present, he was channeling his energy into evolving his music towards what he considered a new "African Classicalism". One cannot help but think about where this path would have led him if he would have stayed with us for just awhile longer.
Beasts Of No Nation and Overtake Don Overtake Overtake are well-argued indictments of the corruption and oppression rampant in post-colonial regimes in Nigeria and throughout Africa. Beasts Of No Nation also took on the South African apartheid regime of P.W. Botha and the support given to it by Britain's Margaret Thatcher and America's Ronald Reagan. In addition to being vilified in the lyric, Botha, Thatcher and Reagan were portrayed as satanic figures on the front cover.
Kuti rarely focused on individual overseas politicians in his songs, preferring to expose the incompetence and brutality of contemporary black African rulers. And it's worth emphasizing that he didn't possess an ounce of racism or feel any animosity to individual whites (providing they weren't exploiting Africa in some way). He was sufficiently secure in himself even to find some humor in racial tensions....
In 1979, the British film maker Jeremy Marre visited Nigeria hoping to meet and film an interview with Kuti. Already made jumpy by what he'd seen on arrival in Lagos (soldiers and police beating people in the streets, corpses left to rot on the beach), he was made doubly so by the journey to Kuti's house. Driving late at night through unlit back streets, to avoid army patrols (an encounter which would at best result in the payment of a bribe), Marre's party found the building in total darkness, outside and in. Gingerly making his way inside, Marre tripped and fell headlong into a room where Kuti was relaxing with friends. Somebody turned on the light, revealing Kuti lying on a sofa, naked except for pink Speedos and smoking a massive joint, and Marre lying face-down on top of several young women. "Hey, white man," Kuti said, "what are you doing with my wives?" Marre got his interview.
Read the full article at allaboutjazz.com!
This is a rare footage of the late great Afrobeat legend, FELA KUTI & EGYPT 80 getting down to another Underground Spiritual Game/Sound, "BEASTS OF NO NATION!"
Beasts of No Nation
Beast of No Nation is the first song Fela wrote in 1986, after he was liberated from prison—serving two years from a five year prison sentence for trumped-up foreign currency violation charges. Everywhere he went after his release, people were asking him what he was going to sing about: ‘Fela wetin you go sing about? Them go worry me!”. People wanted to hear him sing about his prison experience, like he had done with the songs like: Alagbon Close, Kalakuta Show, and Expensive Shit. Finally, he decided to sing about the world we live in—with particular reference to Nigeria. He said when he was in prison he called it ‘Inside World’, out of prison he called it ‘Outside World’. But for him it is actually ‘Craze World’. Otherwise, what name can one give a world with: police brutality, army oppression, courts without justice, magistrates who are supposed to uphold the law, obviously seen bending the law to please some special interest. As further proof of the craze world, he sings about the judge who sent him to jail for five years on a trumped up charge, only for the same judge to visit Fela in a prison hospital two years after. The judge apologized, claiming he was under pressure from the government to convict. This could only happen in a Craze World, Fela reasons. It can only be in a craze world that people sit and watch governments shoot down protesting students with impunity, like in Soweto(South Africa), Zaria and Ife(Nigeria). Bearing in mind that Nigeria like all craze world countries, condemn the apartheid regime in South Africa, yet committing crimes against humanity in their respective countries. Turning to another aspect of craze world policy of the Nigerian government. In 1983, the Buhari/Idigabon military regime launched a public campaign dubbed ‘War Against Indiscipline’. This was the regime’s solution to corruption inherent in the Nigerian society. To justify this campaign, the Nigerian head of state, General Buhari and his deputy General Idiagbon publicly used words like: ‘…my people are useless! My people are senseless! My people are indisciplined!’ to describe Nigerian People.For Fela, only in a craze world can such remarks be made. Moreover, such statements could only have come from an ‘animal in human skin’. How could these two animals use such words to qualify a people who feed them? This being so, other leaders from other countries must either be animals themselves to associate with, or accept to co-habit under such an umbrella as the United Nations with a head of state that considers his people useless. Turning to the United Nations, Fela saw it as a majorly unhealthy organization that suffers major inadequacy in its organizational principles. It is absurd to organize the UN principle bodies; the Security Council and the General Assembly, in such an undemocratic manner as one member’s cote can veto the decision of the majority. Is this Democracy? “What is United about the UN?” Fela asked. Thatcher went to war with Argentina over Falkland—yet both counties are members of the world body. Reagan and Libya were at war. Israel versus Lebanon. Iran versus Iraq. East-West cold war. It looks more like a group of disunited nations, so how can such a body work to promote and encourage respect for human rights? For Fela, that is another kind of animal talk. How can people talk about ‘individual’ rights? No one has the right to deprive someone else of what belongs to the individual—only an animal would try to take away another person’s legitimate rights. People who hear Fela say things like this reminded him that he was sent to prison for having such opinions of government. He, in his defense, said it was not him who called members of the UN animals. It was Pik Botha, the former South Africa President at the peak of the anti-apartheid struggle, in reaction to the persistent riots against the racist regime. He came out with a statement that his regime would act more brutally if the riots did not stop: “…this uprising will bring out the beast in us”. Fela’s reminded us that President Reagan advocated: “..constructive engagement with the apartheid regime” among member nations of the UN. The same policy as Mrs. Thatcher – an indication that they were sharing the same friendship and animal characteristics as Botha. If this is so the UN can only be an assembly of Beasts of No Nation.
O.D.O.O.(Overtake Don Overtake Overtake)
In O.D.O.O., Fela sings about the effects of military usurpation of power and the destruction of African young democracy since independence- particularly young democracies, that fought and won independence after long confrontations, and sometimes wars with colonial powers. He said when they come to power, the coup plotters assume names such as: Nigerian Supreme Military Council, Ghana Redemption Council, Libyan Revolutionary, etc. Most times the coup plots were planned and financed by departing colonial powers. To those who are not aware, the arrival of the military in the political arena creates the illusion of a peaceful ‘democratic’ participation and functioning government. Particularly, since most of the daily running of government is performed by civilians who report to military bosses. For Fela, under normal circumstances, the duty of the armed forces is to defend and support the civil government; not to overthrow it or usurp the duties of any branch of government because it has no political mandate. To do the contrary- that means ‘Overtake-overtake’. Any idea of a prosperous, peaceful country with the military at the helm of power is nothing but an illusion. Persistent scandals and corruption at the highest level of power, a hallmark of each and successive regimes since independence, helps put Fela’s disillusion and distrust of the military in perspective. Pointing to the ambiguity of modeling newly independent African nation’s constitution after those of the departing colonial masters, as the root cause of our problems. Fela in his sarcastic manner calls what passes as government in Africa as: ‘…soldier go! Soldier come!’, meaning the institution that created the military structure purposefully put the army there to continue their colonial work. To paint a clear picture of the plight of Africans under such dictatorship, Fela mentions a list of songs he had written, criticizing the wrongs of the system: Kalakuta Show! Mr. Follow-Follow! Zombie! Shuffering and Shmiling!. Unfortunately, it is the poor masses who suffer most from these mismanagement and corruption in government. From an early age, Africans children are forced to learn how to survive in a system where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from—no social security, no education, etc. Despite all these setbacks, Africans still try to educate their children, the children grow up, taking steady jobs to better their lives, saving money here and cutting edges there just to survive. In the end, Overtake Don Overtake Overtake because events of the mismanagement’s from various administrations render all sacrifices and cutting edges the individual makes to better his life useless.
Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
Dec 9, 2011
"Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou" does not have to be introduced here ... but
FESTAC '77 was a great art and cultural assembly of Africans and African-Americans that was held for one month in Nigeria from the 15th Jan. until the 12th Feb. 1977. It was truly a class act that brought people of all races and nationalities to Nigeria in celebration of acts and culture that has since not been surpassed.
Most of the festival took place in Lagos State - in the main, conference and cinema halls of the National Theatre, Iganmu which was built for the event; the National Stadium in Surulere; Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos; and in the Lagos City Hall; except for the Durbar, a spectacular involving over 3000 horses which took place in Kaduna State.
The Grand Patron of the event was President Olusegun Obasanjo, the current president of Nigeria, who was then a Lt. General of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Head of the Federal Military Government. The President of the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts was the then Cmdr Ochegomie Promise Fingesi, who was then Nigeria's Commissioner for Special Duties.
The Second Festival of Black & African Arts and Culture of 1977 was an event that could not be ignored, and practically impossible to top or even to copy given the present state of affairs in Africa. Almost 30 years have passed, and there has not been a third Festac. To its detractors, it was an exhibition of excess. However, no one can deny that it was the greatest gathering of African cultures of all time.
Dec 8, 2011
Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about this album ... therefore, here's just the trcaklist and two songs I found on youtube ...
01. Call A Spade A Spade
02. Married Life
04. No Wrong Show
05. Love Of Parents
06. People In The World
01. Call A Spade A Spade
02. Married Life
04. No Wrong Show
05. Love Of Parents
06. People In The World
Labels: Thony Shorby Nyenwi
Dec 7, 2011
In Guelewar’s remastered live recording from 1982 west African blues riffs are put through a mini-MOOG synthesizer to create a sound that might be what a computer would play if it had soul and a funky groove. The album’s technology-heavy, trancelike songs, at the time, presented an entirely new take on Senegambian music. Discovered by Adamantios Kafetzis, the founder of Teranga Beat Records, the record is just one of many re-releases resulting from a project by Kafetzis in an effort to bring to light classic Senegambian recordings from the late 1960s to 80s. Lucky us.
Guelewar was founded in Banjul, The Gambia in 1970. Originally called The Alligators, they were led by musical star Bai Janha, a central figure in the Gambian musical community during the 1970s. In 1972, the band decided to incorporate more local musical styles, using the 21-stringed Kora. The group also incorporated the sabar drums, an indigenous instrument which beats out a rhythmic style known as Mbalax. This style of dance music was later internationalized by Senegalese star Youssou N’Dour. In keeping with this shift to incorporate more local influences, the group changed their name from the English ‘Alligator’ to Guelewar. In 1975, bandleader Janha left the group to join rival band Ifang Bondi. Moussa Ngom was brought in as the new lead singer, with his cousin Laye Ngom as bandleader and arranger. Moussa began his singing career as part of the melancholy circumcision rituals and celebrations traditional to the Gambian countryside. As part of Guelewar, he chose to sing in Wolof as opposed to English. This LP, taken from a live concert at the Canari Club de Kaurack in Senegal, is the last recording we have of Guelewar. The group disbanded in 1983.
Album opener, “Yaye Ramoutoulaye,” thrusts you right into a tropical electronic groove. Vocals add texture behind the dance, but the mini-MOOG dominates the sound, moving up and down scales behind a drum vamp. The song drags on with little progression beyond this original beat. Midway through the second track, “Balla Jigi,” the synthesizer cuts out allowing the strong percussion players to shine. Their complex yet loose playing is a treat, exposing the rhythmic underbelly of the ensemble which anchors those long synthesizer grooves. The percussive power comes through again midway through “Halleli N’Dakarou N’Diaye,” as the drums and one singer are isolated with band hits behind them. The sabar drums beat out an unrelenting triplet rhythm. However, the drummers are not the only talented musicians in the ensemble.
This is most evident on “Ouvareyea,” where the dexterity of the guitar player shines through, as he leads the band with a fast, playful guitar line and later shows his creative skills in improvisation. The singers also blend wonderfully at the beginning of “Cilss,” which may be their most inspired track, and also their most openly political. One singer begins with a melancholy refrain in Wolof with the feel of a religious chant, and is soon joined by other singers, then the energized drummers and finally the rest of the synthesizer and guitar. Although the lyrics are not totally clear, the phrase “Our people have lost very much” is repeated again and again. The song’s title comes from the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), an organization established in 1973 in response to horrible draughts in the region from 1968 to 70. The next song, “President Jawara – Abdul Diouf,” continues the political focus. This concert occurred only one year after an attempted coup in 1981 and so the political landscape was very hot. During the coup, Jawara called on and received military aid from Senegal. That same year, Senegalese president Abdul Diouf convinced Jawara to unite the two countries, forming the Senegambian Confederation. At the six minute mark, the song shifts from a lamentation to a lighter tone suggesting hope for the future. Unlike the dance beats of the first half of the album, the singers here push to the foreground, brashly stating their message with little emphasis on melody, speaking to us in a tone reminiscent of hip hop. Unfortunately, the lyrics are not yet available, but in the extensive liner notes by Kefatzis, their political message becomes clear.
Partly because of the nature of live recording, the songs on this release are not tight, but rather quite long, with most averaging around eight minutes. Most focus less on structural development than on relishing the groove, and end seemingly arbitrarily with one big warm chord. However, the album gains strength as it progresses; the synth dance grooves are refined, with a larger role for the singers and a political bent. The tropical, electronic vamps are still present, but are more broken up and varied, allowing the percussion section and singers to be heard. The group has an infectious, loose energy, and it is fun to hear them experimenting with the new technology of the mini-MOOG. They’re worth a listen, and if we could travel back to 1982, you can bet we would be dancing our asses off at their show.
The second release from the Teranga Beat label is a live mash of psychedelia and moog madness from Gambian band Guelewar. Formerly known as The Alligators, a group led by Bai Janha, a leading light on the Gambian music scene, the band became Guelewar when Janha was joined by Laye N'Gom. Guelewar fused the Bougaraboo and Saourouba sounds with soul and funk, with a nod towards Gambian traditional singer Moussa N'Gom. Guelewar was the biggest band on the Sene-Gambian music scene. This is their last recording. live at the Canari Club de Kaolack in Senegal in 1982.
The moment this live Guelewar set began playing on my stereo, I stopped in my tracks. What was this?! Did some psychedelic rocker from the 70s get ahold of some West African traditional recording and sample the heck out of it? Was it one of those hybrid bands looking to break boundaries?
No, Guelewar was a short-lived, creative band from The Gambia, the tiny West African country surrounded by Senegal. The original Guelewar began life in 1970 as the Alligators, singing cover songs of U.S. soul music, but quickly began incorporating traditional percussion in one of the earliest experiments leading to mbalax. Led by Bai Janha and Laye Ngom, the group disbanded in 1975 having had made no recordings.
In the late 70s Laye Ngom reformed the band with his cousin Moussa as lead singer. They had two recording sessions that led to four records, but the band only received limited payment for the first, Sama Yaye Demna N'darr, which you can find on the net here. The second album, Tasito, is available here. Until recently band members did not even know that a fourth album was released, in Europe! Guelewar and Ifang Bondi, where Bai Janha went from Guelewar, were the two most influential bands from The Gambia, totally revolutionizing music in the country, while also having a notable impact on Senegal's pop music.
I would have loved to be at the gig when this extraordinary set was recorded! The twelve band members were in the zone, and the remarkably clean recording captures a brilliant performance. The opening track sets the pattern for the entire performance: a fierce rhythm section establishes a torrid pace as guitars and a mini-Moog synthesizer weave cyclical patterns with the vocalists. Listening through this recording, the synthesizer bores grooves on your brain. The guitars can be polite, mimicking the kora, or they can freak out in distorted psychedelic harmony with the Moog. Moussa Ngom's vocals can recall the griots, and then abruptly enter call-and-response discourse with the other vocalists as the percussion ramps up. And always, always, the synthesizer is part of the conversation.
Certainly this was experimental music. It was brilliant! This is one of the most exciting albums I have heard in a long, long time, and I am so thankful that this recording was rescued from near oblivion. Every time I listen to it, I hear new things. It occurs to me that the small labels working hard to uncover "lost," essential music, like Teranga Beat, the producer of this superb release, are moved by the same passion that motivates many of us in the blogosphere. It's a privilege for me to recommend Halleli N'Dakarou, without reservations.
Press release con be found here
01. Yaye Ramoutoulaye
02. Balla Jigi
06. Halleli N'Dakarou N'Diaye
08. President Jawara - Abdou Diouf
10. Werr Tullali Barr
Dec 6, 2011
As more and more compilations come out celebrating African music from the ‘70s, it gets harder and harder to make each collection unique. At some point, the market has to get flooded, and we seem to be reaching—or perhaps we’re already past—that breaking point. Despite that uphill climb, there are still labels digging deep to give us new sounds from a golden age in Afro-beat and Afro-funk music. Analog Africa has, for 10 years, been at the forefront of this musical exploration and given us some of the finest compilations to date: Check their Legends of Benin if you haven’t yet.
And now they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary with another strong collection, Bambara Mystic Soul. The set is a bit more obscure than other compilations, digging into the music of Burkina Faso. This area of Africa south of the Sahara is an arid stretch of land that runs between Dakar and Djibouti, but it produced some great music after gaining independence from French occupation. It’s a sound very much in line with sounds you’ve heard from other areas—Nigeria, Benin, Dakar—but it’s got its own unique mix of influences that make Burkinabe music unique and vibrant, and this collection reveals yet another gem in the world of African music.
The strength of this music actually came out in competition. Despite post-independence political instability, an urban middle class grew in Burkina Faso from which a glut of singers and musicians blossomed. Most importantly, perhaps, emerged two competing labels—Volta Discobel and Club Voltaique Du (CVD)—and in battling for the modern music in the region, they challenged good bands to become great. Judging from the collection here, the ones that were up to the task thrived, as did both labels.
The sounds here are pulled from a variety of influences outside of Burkinabe music. It distinguishes itself from Nigerian Afro-beat, for example, by sanding down the hard edge of that sound. Instead, there is an undercurrent of Afro-Latin sound, brought over from Cuba, that smoothes out many of these songs. They can go from lean, as on Amadou Ballake’s guitar-driven opener “Bar Konou Mousso”, to the rattling jams of longer tracks like “Mangue Konde Et Les Super Monde’s “Kabendo”, where the shuffling percussion shows the Latin influence most clearly. Other tracks, like Mamo Lagbema’s “Love, Music, and Dance”, show the ever-present influence of Western soul on the Afro-beat sound. Meanwhile, Afro Soul System’s “Tink Tank” shows a wholly unique and murky take on all of these sounds. The guitars here are downright psychedelic and off-kilter and excellent, and the rhythm section digs in and trudges forward with a scowling force. Even if you’ve heard 100 African music compilations in the past few years, Afro Soul System’s work will catch you off guard in the best way.
In the end, though, Bambara Soul Mystic belongs mostly to one man: Amadou Ballake. Of the 16 tracks here, Ballake is featured on six, and with good reason. He’s a national icon, and hearing his music here, you can see why. Ballake, working with different groups, shows a variety of talents that represents well the different sounds that make up Burkinabe music. The trickling melodies and rhythm of “Sali” owe as much to Asian and Islamic influences as they do to African music. “Johnny” uses more straightforward rock ‘n’ roll percussion, opening up holes for the wobbling guitars to ripple into. “Oye Ke Bara Kignan”, recorded with l’Orchestre Super Volta, merges the swaying Afro-Latin vibe with the hard-edged guitar sounds of Mali and Nigeria to brilliant effect. Through each of these sounds, Ballake also proves himself a soulful and charming singer, one that possesses as much impressive range as he does deep emotion.
While Ballake gets the most space here, proving his status as the most important figure in Burkinabe music, he also anchors what is a pretty impressive and diverse set of songs from a previously untapped resource. Bambara Soul Mystic achieves the consistency of some of the best Afro-beat comps out there—from Analog Africa and others—but what makes it great is that it also makes its own unique mark. It only takes one listen to see the new ground this music covers that like compilations don’t, and subsequent listens after only reveal more wonderful, tuneful surprises.
This latest collection from nugget unearthing specialists Analog Africa comes from deep in North Western Africa and features 16 tracks covering the golden age of Burkinabè music. The compilation follows the label's similar overviews from inspired times in Benin, Togo and Angola, amongst others. Bambara Mystic Soul: The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-1979 represents perhaps the label's most underexposed region to date. Burkina Faso has produced very little exported popular music compared to its neighbors or African musical giants like Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. And records that have appeared on Western labels, such as Nonesuch's Savannah Rhythms and Rhythms of the Grasslands covered more traditional percussive forms, reflecting the music played in the rural landscape. Although those were recorded around the same period in the early 70s, the musicians on the tracks on Bambara Mystic Soul had travelled beyond the arid Sahel desert. Having absorbed a wide range of influences from across Africa, the sounds they crafted displayed a more cosmopolitan feel.
The record documents a time prior to the military coups in the former French colony that eventually led to the then Republic of Upper Volta, or Haute Volta, being renamed Burkina Faso (“the land of incorruptible/upright men”) in 1984. The groups showcased here were influenced by sounds coming from neighbouring countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, during the height of the Afrobeat revolution.
The impact of the music is immediate, and the sound timeless, as Amadou Ballaké et l'Orchestre Super Volta kick in with 'Bar Konou Mousso', laced with jazzy saxophone breaks and loose but punctual guitar lines. The lyrics reflecting on Ballaké's experiences as a musician playing in bars every night: “If you're musician, you're no one, my house is not paid, at the Independence Hotel, with the white man, It's 5,000 Francs". A prominent figure during this period, now regarded as a national icon, vocalist Ballaké led several pioneering orchestras from the capital Ouagadougou, and features on six tracks, variously accompanied here by Les 5 Consuls and l'Orchestre Super Volta. His career had begun outside Burkina Faso in the 60s in the night clubs of Bamako, Mali, as, like many other Burkinabè musicians, he sought better gig opportunities. This in turn led to the incorporation of wider and distinctive musical influences, like the guitar techniques and Mandingue melodies from Mali and Guinea, just one example of the wide breadth of ideas picked up from other African countries that helped inspire this rich blend of soul.
Existing in the dry savannah plains in hot Sahel climes, regularly facing drought, Voltaics would head to the neighbouring Ivory Coast to seek employment. Similarly, the country did not host adequate studio facilities, and many of these recordings were made outside of Burkina Faso. While visiting these studios the musicians made good use of their neighbours' studio knowledge. The musicians were also aided by the post-independence urban middle class, who were willing to invest in the Burkinabè arts, which included releasing the music. Labels emerged like Volta Discobel and Club Voltaique du Disque (CVD) to document the sounds for people at home, originally releasing many of the tracks included here. The recordings have a warm sound, and include a combination of traditional Islamic rhythms, as on Orchestre CVD's 'Rog Mik Africa', and a hint of Afro-Latin sounds introduced by visiting Cuban groups, featured on Mangue Konde et Le Super Mandé's 'Kabendo'. And where there is perhaps a bit of tape wobble, on Amadou Ballaké et Les 5 Consuls' 'Renouveau', and certain l'Orchestre Super Volta tracks, it adds a fitting haunting quality to the 35-year-old sounds.
Taking the soul blueprint of Ballaké's music, his younger contemporaries at this time followed with the additional influence of 70s Afropop and funk. Abdoulaye Cissé's 'Kodjougou' begins on a stomping riff like a more energised take on Bob Marley's 1973 'Get Up, Stand Up', with added psyche fuzz guitar soloing, rapid-fire trap work and menacingly urgent vocals, while the playful wah-funk of Compaoré Issouf's 'Dambakale', oozes a loose sensual swing, as the gently strained lead vocal is backed by a group of female singers on the knee-tremblingly seductive chorus. Mamo Lagbema's 'Love, Music and Dance' revels in a fun Zappa-like wildness. And an undeniably James Brown-styled wail leads into the shoulder shaking shimmy of Afro Soul System's 'Tink Tank', like Fela Kuti, using Pidgin English so the message could be understood by a wider multilingual audience, as the music builds up layer upon layer of polyrhythmic interplay to the endless heavy groove.
The re-discovery of these timeless “raw sounds” offers a tantalising glimpse into this vibrant scene, and a wider exploration into the back catalogues of the artists on Bambara Mystic Soul would certainly be welcome. It will be interesting to see what treats Analog Africa has in store next. For now, surrendering to the magic of this potent African mix as it casts a spell on the soul is just fine.
Check it out here:
Renouveau - Amadou Balaké et Les 5 consuls
Bambara Mystic Soul takes the search for rare 1970s groove music into rough territory. The landlocked West African nation of Burkina Faso, which was known until 1984 as Upper Volta, doesn’t top any lists besides the ones you don’t want to be on, like child mortality and the percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition. The country didn’t have civilian radio until 1939, and in the ’50s it took music from the U.S. a year to reach Voltan ears. But it’s not totally isolated. In the ’70s, when the music on this record was made, a large part of the population migrated to neighboring countries to do agricultural work. More recently despite the encroachment of the growing Sahara and collateral economic damage from civil conflicts in neighboring Mali, Niger and Ivory Coast, people survive and thrive.
Since 2006, the Frankfurt-based DJ has split his time between searching for vinyl in Africa and Latin American and fashioning compilations like this one that skim the best dance-floor fillers and soul-touchers from his collection. Your typical Analog Africa release not only serves up a world of new but approachable music, it takes you on a journey. Bambara Mystic Soul comes with a 44-page booklet that chronicles Redjeb’s record searches, as well as the smells and sights and illnesses he encountered whilst searching in Burkina Faso and other African countries for these records. It also introduces you, via recent interviews, to the people who made these records more than 30 years ago, and dishes dirt like the story about a government official who put paid to efforts to build a pressing plant in the capital city, Ouagadougou. If you’re inclined to geek out over stories embedded with trivia, Analog Africa has your back.
But records are for playing, not reading, and AA is on your side there, too. Redjeb is a DJ as well as a collector, and he has good sequencing instincts. His selections on Bambara Mystic Soul adhere to criteria similar to the ones he applied when assembling Legends Of Benin, Angola Soundtrack, and Afro-Beat Airways. He bypasses folkloric material in favor of music that reflects the influence of Latin American rhythms, U.S. soul music, and the burgeoning popular music industries of neighboring countries.
You can hear Congolese traces in the loping beat and fleet guitar figures of Orchestre CVD’s “Rog Mik Africa,” James Brown in Jean Claude Bamongo’s tonsil-inflaming screams on Afro Soul System’s organ-heavy “Tink Tank,” straight-up disco bass on Mamo Lagbema’s libidinous “Love, Music And Dance” (the only song in English), and a late-night Cuban swoon in Amadou Ballaké’s “Baden Djougou.” What you won’t hear is something that defines this music as essentially Voltan. Unless you have an ear that can distinguish the various Mosse, Fula and Mande languages or local French accents sung here, what stands out is the way these songs sound like a mix of Ivorian, Congolese, Beninese and Malian, as well as non-African influences. But you’ll also hear some mighty swell tunes full of liquid guitar licks, spidery organ runs, and singers who know how to make you pay attention even if you don’t know what they’re saying. Even in the best of times, living in Burkina Faso isn’t easy; if you’re surviving, you’ve got something to celebrate, and that’s the spirit this collection exudes.
It's official; the so-called developed world is drowning in DJ-curated repackagings of 35 to 40 year old Latin and funk-influenced West-African grooves. Many of these collections suggest scenes that may have never really existed, or their editors cherry pick particularly rare stylistic examples of sounds the bands themselves only dabbled in. In this way, they often decide what matters based on what a Westerner may truly be able to get with, due to a familiarity many us really ought to get past. Yet compilations and original LP reissues by the likes of the above label, Soundway, Mississippi, Vampi Soul, Strut and a growing host of others are also shining a spotlight on what was no doubt a fertile period in the region’s musical development, a post-colonial, pre-corruption-fueled fallout that, for a brief moment, allowed the arts to flower.
Perhaps Ghana and Nigeria documented this period most extensively, but then there was Benin, and especially the massive output of the country’s best-known band, Poly Ritmo (an ensemble who have been heavily, but hardly exhaustively compiled on Analog Africa, Soundway and Sterns Africa). Yet, it’s only natural that the interest would spill over into Ghana and Benin’s shared northern neighbor, Burkina Faso. And positioned as it is due east of southern Mali as well, its 70s-era pop sounds no doubt bear the stamp of that Sahelian musical powerhouse.
Yet this isn’t the first compilation of such artists as Sandwidi Pierre, Amadou Ballake and others to appear recently. There’s Savannahphone’s Ouaga Affair from 2 years ago (a compilation which has a number of track overlaps with this set), as well as a 3-year old Ballake reissue on Oriki. In fact, the discerning sharity blog surveyor will unearth hours of treasures from this landlocked African Nation. However, what sets this comp apart, is the massive attention to track choice label owner Sammy Ben Redjeb brings to any project, not to mention the exhaustive booklet with his own story of tracking this stuff down, artists’ telling their own bios and, in this case, a bit of Burkina music history courtesy of Ouaga Affair’s own Craig Taylor.
Like most of the other AA releases, Redjeb, who is also a DJ, has his finger on the dance-floor pulse, and, aside from one weak track, Mamo Lagbema’s “Love, Music and Dance,” this is compilation full of aggressively raw funk, proto-soukous and tracks brimming over with gorgeous Malian-style Cuban-influenced depth. Ballake’s “Sie Koumgolo” percolates with bottomless guitar-shimmer while the Afro Sound System’s “Tink Tank” is a definitive take on lo-fi funk nastiness so intense it seemingly defied normal recording standards. If there’s any real complaint about the set, it has less to do with the contents and more to do with this review’s opening statement. Nothing on this disc will be necessarily revelatory to the already initiated, but then that’s not the point. There is still a tremendous amount of this music rarely heard outside the country, including the sounds made by Bobo-Dioulasso’s state-sponsored orchestras. While we’re now hearing like bands from Guinea and Mali, there’s still a treasure trove to come from the former Upper Volta. Perhaps, Bambara Mystic Soul will help unlock some of what’s still presently obscure in this musically bountiful country.
01. Amado Ballake Et L'Orchestre Super Volta - Bar Konou Mousso
02. Abdoulaye Cisse - Kodjougou
03. Compaore Issouf - Dambakale
04. Amadou Ballake Et Les 5 Consuls - Renouveau
05. Traore Seydou Richard Et Les Vadou Du Flamboyant - Katougou
06. Mamo Lagbema - Love, Music And Dance
07. Amadou Ballake Et L'Orchestre Super Volta - Johnny
08. Coulibaly Tidiani - Sie Koumgolo
09. Amadou Ballake Et Les 5 Consuls - Baden Djougou
10. Afro Soul System - Tink Tank
11. Mangue Konde Et Le Super Mande - Kabendo
12. Orchestre CVD - Rog Mik Africa
13. Amadou Ballake Et L'Orchestre Super Volta - Sali
14. Mamo Lagbema - Zambo Zambo
15. Amadou Ballake Et L'Orchestre Super Volta - Oye Ka Bara Kignan
16. Sandwidi Pierre Et L'Orchestre Harmonie Voltaique - Tond Yabramba
Dec 2, 2011
Sixteen LPs, ten 45s, five CDs, all titles are as much loved as hummed throughout Africa. The rich musical heritage from Gnonnas Pedro contiues to live 6 years after his disappearance. Hometown Lokossa in the department of Mono, Gnonnas Pedro comes from a musical family with a father responsible for choir and two brothers, one bassist and one saxophonist. This family environment an the training he received from Do Rego Theophilius aka El Rego open him very quickly the way of great musical career.
With a captivating voice, talented guitarist, will lead Gnonnas Pedro's orchestra "Los Panchos", later renamed the "Dadje Band". Found off traditional Agbadja rhythm , he will make his music stand while providing modern touches. Early on, his repertoire is enriched with new sounds, local and Afro Caribbean, quickly adopted by the public.
"Dedje Vignin", "La musique en verité", or "Dagamassi", "Combinacion", have make dance all over Africa. It also retains the title "Von Von O No" which will adopted as theanthem of the national football team of Togo. He began a second career in 1996 when he joined Africando formation. With this band, Gnonnas Pedro will record a total of four albums crowned by a global success.
Always with Africando, Gnonnas reveal the magnitude of his talent in the world that adopts it. Polyglot into his songs, his covers topics are, women, love, slave trade. Most importantly, Gnonnas Pedro is a humble artist with enormous talent. He is an artist who will be performing a few weeks before his death. "Dadji" national, hello! Successes of the past and always!
Nicknamed the "Baobab Beninese music" Gnonnas Pedro started his career by being out in the Night Clubs Cotonou for his dancing skills. Spotted by a pattern of establishment which offers tools to take advantage of his group, he began exploring music with some of his friends deserted permanently to school.
Inspired by El Rego and Ignacio Do Souza , he made his debut in the Los Panchos Cotonou , overlooking his immense talent the scene Afro-Latin Benin until his death in 2004. He was accompanied during the 1970s by the Dadji Band with whom he recorded one of his most famous tracks, " Von O Von Non Dadji "(The first version of the classic music of Benin was published on the label Riviera of Gilles Sala 1965). Gnonnas Perdo Agbadja popularized the style, named after a famous drum he associates with his Afro-Cuban influences, which will become the basic rhythm of his music, called Agbadja beat.
In 1972, the officer Kerekou took power: in 1974 he adopted scientific socialism guided by Marxism-Leninism as the official ideology of Dahomey, and in 1975, renamed the country the People's Republic of Benin. Gnonnas Pedro like other artists Benin must support the movement and began the production of patriotic songs, " Yesterday Dahomey, Benin today, I am proud of you, that's why I stayed ". One of his pieces, Sodabi (meaning alcohol in the Fon language), however, was prohibited by the president as praising the benefits of beer drinking as the best in the country.
The 70s were extremely productive Gnonnas Pedro becomes an accomplished composer and connects a series of hits, some of which are printed on the label Nigerian African Song (known to have released some of the best records of King Sunny Ade). It runs in the entire region and his passion for salsa was rewarded in 1995 when he became one of the singers of Africando , the Afro-Cuban big project of the producer Ibrahim Sylla .
Gnonnas Pedro was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. But because of the high cost of treatment, he decided to ignore the disease and continue to tour with Africando. Her treatment will begin a year later in May 2004. In August Gnonnas asked to return home to end his days. The plane landed at Cotonou on August 11 at 9:30, and Pedro Gnonnas off the next morning at the age of 61.
01. Dadje von von von
02. Ngbahanov O.
03. Ennemi toton
04. Agbadja moderne no.2
05. Hommage aux dovaniers
07. Fini les pave's
Nov 30, 2011
During the latter half of the 1980s, Fela Anikulapo Kuti's international star waned a little, as Congolese rumba and Malian desert blues became the new world music flavors of the moment. And in 2010, even a portion of the Afrobeat audience tends to underestimate Kuti's later work. But 1986's Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense, along with albums such as Beasts Of No Nation (Kalakuta, 1989) and Underground System (Kalakuta, 1992), demonstrates that Kuti's genius never left him, and that Egypt 80 was as limber and hard-hitting a band as its predecessor, Afrika 70.
Kuti only infrequently employed outside producers on his albums. Sometimes the results were good: British dub master Dennis Bovell's Live In Amsterdam (Polygram, 1983) and the ex-Cream drummer, Ginger Baker's psychedelia tinged He Miss Road (EMI, 1975). On another occasion it was spectacularly bad: Bill Laswell's extensive remix and overdubbing of Army Arrangement (Celluloid, 1985), done while Kuti was in jail in 1984 on trumped up currency smuggling charges. Listening to it was "worse than being in prison," Kuti said.
Best of them all was Wally Badarou's Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense. It adopted a markedly different aesthetic to the one Kuti typically used, and it was a triumph. The album was recorded shortly after Kuti had been released from jail, where he'd served 20 months on the smuggling charges (son Femi had kept Egypt 80 rehearsed during the incarceration).
Badarou's production is richer and more burnished than was the norm for Kuti. Indeed, it's almost orchestral. The sound is smoother, the beat more chilled, and the arrangement denser, with layers of keyboards, a serpentine horn chart, and the backup choir placed well forward in the mix. In the lyric for the title track, Kuti tells the oyinbos (white men) to stop foisting sham versions of democracy on Africa, allowing "democratic" rulers to line their own pockets at the expense of the people, just so long as foreign-owned multi-nationals are permitted to strip the continent of its natural resources for a pittance. This isn't democracy, says Kuti, it's "demo-crazy." Give us back our traditional rulers, he says, they are infinitely preferable.
Ironically—and probably unknown to Kuti at the time this album was recorded—Badarou was during the mid 1980s sometimes engaged as a keyboard player on Laswell's productions (saxophonist Manu Dibango's 1985 Celluloid album, Electric Africa, was outstanding). But Badarou's modus operandi was eons away from Laswell's heavy handed approach. Years later, explaining how to produce Kuti, he said, "You don't. You keep the tape running, you have a second machine standing by, you make him feel comfortable, and you are wholly transparent throughout the process. Fela knew very little of me—I can't recall ever being formally introduced—and I clearly felt his reluctance to the having a 'producer' on board....But Fela loved the sound." Indeed, Kuti told Badarou, "You know how to mix my music, man"—a real compliment from an artist who always knew exactly how he wanted his music to be presented on disc.
Read the full article at allaboutjazz.com!
I saw Fela Kuti live. It was in 1989, toward the end of his career (his final studio album, Underground System, was released in 1992, and he died in 1997), at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. The show was astonishing. Obviously, it was over 20 years ago, so my memories are blurry and impressionistic at this point, but I remember a staggering number of musicians and dancers on the stage, all being conducted by this one shirtless, made-up, strutting man, who barked out lyrics and occasionally played long, honking saxophone solos. The music poured out and into the night sky, flowing and seemingly endless. Fela was known for never playing a “greatest hits” set; his songs tended to be nearly a half-hour long anyhow, but he never played anything he’d already recorded. When you saw him live, you were guaranteed to hear something you couldn’t get on an album, at least not yet. Once he laid something to tape, it was retired.
I wasn’t at all familiar with his music at the time I saw the show. I knew he had dozens of albums, but they weren’t available on CD, and I’d only heard one—this one. I’d bought it after reading a review of one of his New York concerts in Rolling Stone, and even though I knew about the lengthy live jams, I was still somewhat astonished to see that the cassette only had one song per side. I played it over and over that summer and for a couple of years after, though eventually it got purged, along with most of my other cassettes. Now it’s been reissued, along with all of Fela’s other albums, on CD and MP3.
I’ve heard almost all of Fela’s discography at this point—not just the albums, each one monumental in its own way, albeit with some clear masterpieces (“Zombie,” “Gentleman,” “Roforofo Fight”) standing out from the pack—but also early singles and shorter tracks that crop up on all the compilations of Nigerian music that have been released in recent years. Most of his albums have a raw, rattletrap quality, the intricate polyrhythms and strutting horn charts recorded under relatively primitive conditions, the arrangements loose and choosing immediacy over sterile perfection. Calling Fela “the James Brown of Africa” is not only reductive, it’s actually kind of insulting to both men, glossing over each one’s individual strengths. That said, a lot of Fela’s studio albums from the 1970s all the way up to the early 1980s remind me of the work Brown did with the JBs on albums like Sex Machine and Hot Pants in 1969 and 1970, and the 1971 live album Love Power Peace. The aggression is the same, the determination to get the message out no matter what, to lecture the audience directly and let the driving funk carry it home.
This album, though, was made in 1986, and had a real producer—Wally Badarou, an Island Records-affiliated keyboardist and composer from Benin who played on Grace Jones‘s Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Living My Life albums when she recorded at Compass Point Studios in Jamaica, in addition to working with Talking Heads (on Speaking in Tongues and Naked), Robert Palmer and the Power Station, and many, many others. Badarou brings a polish to the music and the arrangements that vaults Fela’s music into a higher tax bracket, sonically speaking. The guitars and bass are rich and full; the drums, while sounding mechanistic at times, are slippery and hypnotic; the horns punch at the air. Fela himself sounds at ease, like he’s recording in a real studio instead of a tin-roofed shack with military police battering at the door, and yet his call-and-response exchanges with his female backup singers have a vibrancy that’s utterly infectious, especially during the passage midway through the title track where he commands them to sing back the phrases he plays on the saxophone.
The second track, “Look and Laugh,” is slower to get rolling, setting up a jazz-funk groove that almost has the lilting feel of Nigeria’s other primary musical export, juju, and letting it simmer. Hot trumpets blare atop the keyboards, and the rhythm gradually picks up speed and gathers force until Fela launches a biting tenor saxophone solo (it starts in Dexter Gordon territory, but heads Archie Shepp-ward before it’s over) at around the eight-minute mark, with the other horns commenting behind him. There’s a Herbie Hancock-esque keyboard solo after that, then more sax, and only then, about 13 minutes in, does the vocal section of the song begin. The track continues to simmer as Fela talks about how long it’s been since he wrote a new song, but eventually he begins to comment about how, as the track title indicates, he just watches the way people act and laughs. The track ends with Fela and the whole band laughing loud and long.
This reissue contains a bonus track, the 22-minute, politically engaged “Just Like That.” It’s as polished as the original album cuts, but nowhere nearly as relaxed, lyrically speaking (Fela talks about his memories of Nigeria’s civil war, and much more), and it’s a great addition to the disc. Almost the entire Fela catalog is worth hearing, but this album has special resonance for me, as it was my entry point.
With production help from Wally Badarou, Fela Anikulapo Kuti offers up an interesting mix of songs (well, two to be exact) in both vocal and instrumental versions. Most compelling is the track "Look and Laugh," which details the attack by Nigerian soldiers on his Kalakuta compound. With simple lyrics, Fela runs down the horror of that attack in a detached, almost journalistic manner: "Till dem come/burn my house/burn my house/all my property/burn burn dem/beat beat me/kill my mama." Badarou's production help gives Fela his most full-bodied sound; the horn section is much hotter and brassier than ever before. The problem with this record is that with following an instrumental track with a vocal version of the same song, there's a certain lack of drama that blunts the impact of songs as powerful as "Look and Laugh." That said, this is very good mid-'80s Fela. The 2001 reissue on MCA adds a 22-minute bonus track, "Just Like That," which was originally released on 1989's Beast of No Nation album.
Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (1980)
Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense
Fela explains the role of the teacher in any society with the concept that: all the things we consider as problems, and all the good things we accept from life as good, begin with what we are taught. The individual teaching begins with when we are children – our mother is our teacher. When we come of school age, our teacher is the school-teacher. At the university, the lecturers and professors are our teachers. After university—when we start to work, government becomes the individual’s teacher. When then is government’s teacher? ‘Culture and Tradition’ says Fela. This is the order of things everywhere in the world. However, it is the problem side of teacher and student that interests Fela in this song. Because every country in this world except in Africa, it is the respective culture and tradition of that country that guides the government on how to rule their people. Going for specifics, Fela mentions France, Germany, England, Korea, Japan, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Etc., it is the culture of these countries that shapes and guides their respective government’s decisions. The culture and traditions of these countries serve as a teacher to their respective governments. Turing his attention to Africa and her problems. Problems which he had sang about: corruption, inflation, mismanagement, authority stealing, electoral fraud, the latest addition which even makes him laugh is –austerity. Fela says if you ask him why ‘austerity makes him laugh? The answer is that it is beyond crying. The government steals money from the country, the same government is introducing austerity measures—forcing the poor people to pay for their own greed and calling it ‘austerity measures’. How funny if to say the least. Who taught African ‘leaders’ to rule the way they do today? ‘Na the oyinbo’ (meaning in Yoruba language: ‘it is them white folks’) referring to ex-colonial ruler of each country. Take electoral fraud, which is a true test of our democracy. Many African leaders rig elections with impunity and their respective ex-colonial rulers say nothing against this form of ‘democracy’. While the same ‘white folks’ are quick to claim credit for Africa’s ‘civilization’—which Fela disputes in this song. Is this democracy? , he asks. Turning to other problems like the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor. Particularly, since the rich are the rules, and also the people stealing the country into poverty. Is this democracy? Or dem-all-crazy? In conclusion, as an African personality, Fela says he is not in the same league as those who believe in dem-all-crazy, so he calls on the Western powers who claim to be Africa’s teachers not to teach him nonsense—Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.
Look and Laugh
By 1981 when Fela wrote and started to perform live the song Look And Laugh, he was living a life that could be described as a recluse. Fela, who loved to go out in public places, clubs, etc. Suddenly, was always found sleeping or playing sax at home with women around him, or performing at the Africa Shrine. His old attitude of keeping abreast of events, giving lectures at universities and institutions of higher learning stopped. He rarely gave press conferences or press releases, like he used to do. Finally he wrote the song to explain what was going-on with him. He sang: ‘…many of you go dey wonder why your man never write new song! wetin I dey do be say…I dey look and laugh.’ Meaning: …many of you must have been wondering why, your man has not written new songs!…what I am doing is just look and laugh! Fela went on to explain his contributions and sacrifices for the cause of black emancipation, the countless beatings and arrests from the Nigerian police and army, his trials and tribulations, his ultimate sacrifice being the burning down of Kalakuta by the Nigeria army. But despite his sacrifices and sufferings like millions of other Africans, it was obvious that things were not getting better for the average man on the street. There is still injustice everywhere, no freedom, no happiness. All these made him feel disillusioned and all he could do about the situation is to Look and Laugh.
Just Like That
This song is a call to arms from Fela to all Africans to rise up and do something about the political, economic, social and cultural retrogression that has plagued Africa since independence. For more than three decades of independence, there is glaring mismanagement of people’s lives, corruption in the highest echelon of government—all these carried out with impunity—‘Just Like That’ he sings. Using the Nigerian experience as an example of the ‘lack of maintenance culture’, in Africa’s present day neo-colonial administrations, he says: ‘White man ruled us for many years, we had electricity constantly, our leaders take over! No electricity in town—Just like that!’ Fela explains that the attempt to transplant ‘Western style democracy’ in an African society is the cause of all the problems. Despite calls for African Unity from leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, who said: ‘..Until all foreign institutions and culture are removed from the African land, that is when the African genius will be born and African personality will find its fulfillment..’. Instead of heeding Nkrumah’s call, Nigeria’s political founding fathers, like most African leaders at independence, chose the option of fashioning the constitutions of their respective countries after those of the departing colonial ‘masters’—Just Like That. The ambiguity of such decisions can be seen in the poor imitation we make of our attempt at ‘Western style democracy’. Persistent political gangsterism, military coups, and sometimes wars, are means used to enforce the already compromised constitutions. As another example of enforcing a fragile constitution, Fela stresses the face that in 1966, Nigeria for a civil war to keep the country ONE. General Gowon, the military head of state, divided Nigeria into twelve administrative regions, subsequent administrations divided the regions into more—Just Like That. He adds that if the idea of the civil war was to keep the country ONE, sub-dividing Nigeria into more regions would separate rather than unite the country. Turning to the position of traditional rulers in the mess called government, Fela sings: ‘…nothing good for town to give the youths good examples, how our traditional ruler they do, them come make youths look-up to Europe and USA, in those places them don lose them common sense, na the number of Nuclear weapons you get, na him give you power pass! Right now! Fight now! Suffer must stop! Just Like That”. Therefore, calling on the people to fight now for a better society.
Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
1. Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense
2. Look and Laugh
3. Just Like That
Nov 28, 2011
Together with Nico Mbarga, Ikenga Super Stars, Oriental Brothers and African
System Orchestra, to call a few, these guys belong to the cream of
the crop of the highlife scene.
01. People No Fit Understand
03. One Day Suffer Go Finish
Nov 25, 2011
Four songs of sweet Highlife, what a great band, check it out!!!
Ndongo Pecos and presumably the rest of African System Orchestra are apparently Cameroonian, living in Nigeria when this album was recorded.
But these tracks certainly don’t sound like your average 70s Nigerian highlife. I guess by 1981 much of Nigeria was in the throws of Afrobeat and disco, which must have rubbed-off on the Igbo highlife bands too.
01. Bad Friend
03. Good Night My Girl
04. Inyanga No Good