Jul 28, 2011

Rare Grooves out of Africa

Hippie sound of the townships? Psychedelic rock from Nigeria? How wild the Swinging Sixties and Seventies, the Roaring in Africa were really showing a wave of new releases. And the search for the pearls is completely forgotten at least as adventurous as the music.

Why he lives in Frankfurt? Since Samy Ben Redjeb not need to think long: because of the airport of course. Sure, his mother lives here and his friends. But for someone who flies every few weeks to Lagos, Accra and Kinshasa, in order to seek and basement storage rooms or on verrümpelten terraces and courtyards of old records, is an international airport, the most important location factor. As often as possible in order to come to Africa, the former instructor hired temporarily as a flight attendant for Lufthansa.

The 39-year-old German-Tunisian sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the station district, before him a stack of CD boxes of his record label Analog Africa, have garnered for its designers already have some prices. The shells so smart, so amazing content: Ben Redjeb published music, of which one has to know a few years ago in the northern hemisphere not think it exists at all. Music from the Africa of the Swinging Sixties and the Roaring Seventies - from one continent, then, that you have with the beat and hippie-era far more likely not associated.

but they gave up in Benin, Ghana and Togo, Congo, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe today, the wah-wah guitars, the Flower Power-shirts and platform shoes. Here too, the kids went off to Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield and James Brown. The singer Roger Damawuzan from Togo recalls one evening in 1968, as a cultural center a concert film with the "Godfather of Soul" was: "James Brown turned completely through during this show, his musicians he had towels Around, around him . calm down I was fascinated because it reminded me of what we do here in the African region in voodoo rituals. " From then on Damawuzan traveled daily to neighboring Ghana to take English lessons. With that first morsel he wrote the song "Wait For Me" - heard on the Analog Africa CD "African Scream Contest": An Afro-soul hybrid with sparkling Hilife guitar, congas and a wonderfully overwrought James Brown-adepts.

To raise such Damawuzan musicians to license their songs and steal their stories, Samy Ben must travel for months and Redjeb ask around. Sometimes he lets someone call the local radio station, sometimes ringing the police at his door, to go along with him on the search. "And suddenly I'm sitting in the back seat of a tiny car, wedged between two uniformed officers around for hours singing like James Brown and scream," he says.

The search for the forgotten pop stars of Africa not only leads to great Afro-soul-pearls, but also in a turbulent past. The band grooved times in the shadow of military dictatorships, sometimes under the banner of pan-African socialism, or as part of cultural politics of authenticity campaigns. The ratios were contradictory: while Fela Kuti Afrobeat classic "Zombie" in 1975 in Nigeria Riots mobilized against the military junta, also played the "Nigerian Police Force Band" sweaty funk with psychedelic Hammond organ sounds. In Ghana, the army arrested after the coup of 1966, many musicians - again in the seventies, there were bands that were exclusively funded by the Army.

"There was a spirit of optimism, a sense of self-empowerment," says Miles from London label Cleret Soundway. "Most countries did so just over a decade of independence behind them." Cleret also is one of those DJs whose passion for collecting the new enthusiasm for the African vintage sounds has fanned. Spurred by the old vinyl discs Hilife a musician from Accra, he traveled for the first Soundway compilation "Ghana Soundz" by Ghana for three years.

He discovered a pop culture that the world-music record labels in the eighties had overlooked - or wanted to see. "The World Music and other people had a pulse," says Cleret. "They were desperate to get away from the Western pop music and studied in Africa, a culture that has to do with it as little as possible."

Quite different is the approach of the new label-maker-generation. Having grown up with rap, Miles Cleret began in the nineties, the soul, funk, jazz and disco-plates to discover who had sampled the hip-hop producers. And finally found the soundtrack of his life in Africa: Rough Soul, funk and disco-howler, which sound a bit trashy for local standards, because the producers sometimes had to make do with only a tape recorder and two microphones. The crappy sound but the musicians did with energy and experimentation offset. They touched up the local rhythms and Western models of original hybrids. "The kids have discovered their roots and then experimented with," says Cleret.

Today once again discovered the American hip-hop old African bastard pop. Was re-released his last album for rap star Usher sampled a piece of the Ghanaian guitarist and bandleader Ebo Taylor, the Soundway. And the number "As We Enter" with the NAS and the Duo Damian 'Gong' Marley opened his acclaimed album, based on the play "Yègelé Tezeta" the Ethiopian vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke. Astatke is one of the few musicians who can take advantage of the hype for a worldwide comeback. The 67-year-old playing his elegiac mix of Ethiopian pentatonic, Latin Jazz and Soul Festival today on independent as well as in prestigious concert halls.

Township grooves from junk yards

His albums released on Strut Records, another label that has merit in the heritage of African pop music. For example, through their writing of South African music: The three-part CD series "Next Stop Soweto," shows what a vibrant music scene, cavorted in the shadow of apartheid policies. The name refers to the largest township in Johannesburg and shot down the bloody uprising that erupted there in June 1976. The Soweto riots were the beginning of the end of the racist regime. "Next Stop Soweto" sound of the black youth documented on the road to rebellion: the driving choruses of "Township Jive", and "mbaqanga" called the elegant Kwela Jazz and Hammond Soul of the Sixties and psychedelic guitars twang the "Mahipis," the South African hippies.

For decades, the township-level grooves unnoticed in the archives of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and in the cellars of junk shops. Rediscovered it has the strut employees Duncan Brooker, early thirties and one of the toughest detectives on the scene. During a visit to Johannesburg, he got by chance, like a store operator crates of vinyl singles wanted to throw in the garbage. "What are you doing with that old shit," Brooker gets on his months-long expeditions to hear often. "We prefer to listen to Snoop Doggy Dogg." The pop-culture legacy as bulky waste: Often have to watch the disk agitator from Europe, such as child abuse in the streets of Nairobi and Lagos records as frisbees.

Most musicians have died, have changed their profession or have gone to Europe. For his latest compilation "Afro-Beat Airways" was searching about Samy Ben Redjeb of Analog Africa in Accra for weeks after the band Marijata. He finally met the organist in Berlin, with schnitzel and sauerkraut. Duncan Brooker and Strut Records defeated seven years of looking long in Sierra Leone after the band leader of the African National ensembles. "I had already given up, as there comes a guy from Sierra Leone in my London apartment to read the gas," says Brooker. "I put on a record of African National and the guy comes running out: 'What's going on, why do you play music from my country?"

The Gasableser was on the old vinyl discs, which showed him Brooker, identify various relatives and friends. Finally it turned out that the musician has the sought after collector's plate so long in vain for years working for a security company in the supermarket around the corner. Brooker took five minutes on foot to present to the man his old records. He himself had long since slipped from the consciousness that he had heard three decades earlier times in the vanguard of an African cultural revolution.

Originally published in the German magazine spiegel.de, written by Christoph Twickel


The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the link. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!

Fela Kuti - Stalemate (1977)/ Fear Not For Man (1977)


Although the original liner notes report that Stalemate was "recorded during the Kalakuta crisis," the album is surprisingly non-confrontational. Modern day notes explain that the singer was distracted by a number of outside issues, such as his sudden homelessness and legal battles with Decca West Africa, but the album's decidedly lighthearted tone is perhaps an attempt to demonstrate to his oppressors that Fela Kuti had escaped the Kalakuta conflict with his health and determination intact. "Stalemate" is a slice-of-life song depicting everyday situations where two groups of people are at odds with each other; "Don't Worry About My Mouth O (African Message)" finds Kuti as a schoolmaster teaching his students to reject Western toothbrushes and toilet paper in favor of traditional African chewing sticks and water. Fear Not for Man is less about message and more about grooves, with the title track preaching briefly about the importance of being courageous before embarking on an extended instrumental jam. One of the more peculiar tracks in Kuti's catalog, "Palm Wine Sound" is a Caribbean-styled instrumental that finishes the album in the highlife spirit of carefree fun and dancing.

Jim Smith


Despite a massive attack by 1,000 armed Nigerian army men on his Kalakuta Republic compound on February 18, 1977, Fela Kuti, accompanied by his Africa '70, resumed his prolific musical output -- which yielded in excess of half-a-dozen long-players a year since 1975. While the exact recording date is not documented, it could easily be surmised that Stalemate -- like Opposite People -- was recorded prior to the incident. Another correlation between the two releases is that the subject matter is more social than political in content. In keeping with tradition, the album Stalemate consist of two extended pieces -- one per side. The title track has a mid-tempo trance groove that bends and yields to Kuti's call and response with Africa '70. After a lengthy instrumental introduction -- thoroughly establishing the buoyant rhythm -- Kuti begins his half-spoken/half-sung observations. His subject matter, as is often the case, deals with relationships between people and using logic to avoid conflict. One valuable lesson that can be derived from "Stalemate" is keeping one's opinions to one's self until all facts have been presented -- thus, avoiding a stalemate. The B-side track contains an equally funk-driven piece, whose subject matter is steeped in native African tradition. The moral struggle between convention and invention collide on "Don't Worry About My Mouth O..." Kuti's rap explains the heritage and preference in the African "chewing stick" versus the toothbrush/toothpaste combination so popular in most of the world. The rear cover even includes photos of Kuti using the said "chewing stick." He also makes a few clever analogies between the healthy mouth and the things that come out of it. [In 2000, Stalemate was reissued on CD coupled with another 1977 release, Fear Not for Man -- which contains the rare instrumental "Palm Wine Sound."]



talemate and Fear Not For Man were among the first albums to be released by Kuti following the sack of Kalakuta. It is likely, however, that neither album, contrary to some reports, was recorded following the February events—despite the original sleeve for Stalemate carrying the back cover message: "Recorded during the Kalakuta Crisis!!." Parts of both albums have a laid back, at times even lighthearted vibe (though not, assuredly, the title track of Fear Not For Man), and it is inconceivable that Kuti, of all people, would have recorded such music in the aftermath of the outrage. His response came later, on albums such as Sorrow Tears And Blood (reviewed below) and Unknown Soldier.

"Fear Not For Man" sounds like a work in progress interrupted by the attack, and the original LP's B-side, the attractive, anachronistic, highlife-tinged instrumental, "Palm Wine Sound," sounds like an earlier recording included to fill out the playing time and enable a quick release during a profoundly difficult period. "Fear Not For Man" opens with Kuti citing Kwame Nkrumah's statement, "The secret of life is to have no fear!." And that's about it with the lyric. The brevity and actual sound of the vocal resembles a guide track, suggesting that Kuti had intended to come back later and record an extended lyric, before being temporarily overtaken by events. But the instrumental passages, built on an edgy blend of funk, in the bass guitar, and Afrobeat, in the drums, are amongst the most ferocious Afrika 70 ever recorded.

Stalemate is a more finished affair, suggesting it was ready for release at the time of the attack. The title track is, by Kuti's standards, lyrically inconsequential, discussing social and domestic stand-offs, without deeper metaphorical allusion. "Don't Worry About My Mouth-O" weighs African personal hygiene and dress habits (chewing sticks not toothpaste, water not Andrex, traditional clothing not suits and ties) against Western practices, and finds the latter wanting.

Read the full article at allaboutjazz.


Stalemate is one of 10 or so albums that Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti would release during 1977 alone. In February his compound had been attacked by the army and though later in the year a ban on his performing live had been lifted, though the heavy handed and intimidatory tactics of the government and army rendered any performances impossible and a penniless Fela went into self imposed exile in Ghana.

The 13 minute Stalemate, is very relaxed, almost cocktail afrobeat, minimal, low key, with a gentle groove flowing throughout. It was during this period that Fela was becoming increasingly political and you can hear this on Stalemate, where begins with some spoken word, posing a number of situations that all inevitably end in stalemate. Interestingly, and rarely for Fela, it’s his back up singers who steal the limelight fulfilling the melodic duties, whilst Fela is surprisingly circumspect. The b-side is the fifteen and a half minute Don’t Worry About My Mouth O is again another minimal low key affair that proceeds at a gentle canter. Fela is again just talking, making the music stop when he speaks, resulting in it coming across almost as some kind of skit. The general gist seems to be don’t worry about Fela, he’s been taught well by his African forefathers.

Fear Not For Man perhaps references his recent attack via the artwork in which his face defiantly playing his sax has blood superimposed over it. Released in 1977, it again is another relaxed http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifsunny Afrobeat groove, in which he begins by saying ‘the secret of life is to have no fear, we have to understand that.’ The irony is that for all the lightness this is Fela’s provocation to the military, saying that they could beat him and his people but they’re never going to stop him.

The album ends in a rarity for someone with so much to say – an instrumental called Palm Wine Sound, which has a real cocktail jazz feel. Again like both of these albums it’s quite basic and low key, but it is funky as hell and it’s nice to let the message go and just enjoy the music.

Whilst during this period the politics increasingly found their way into his lyrics, musically everything is simpler, minimal, almost austere, but most of all the tempo and urgency has slowed to a halt, like his focus has now shifted from the urgency and passion of his youth to a more incisive political and social commentary.

Bob Baker Fish


Stalemate (1977)

The title track, “Stalemate” refers to the tug of war between the masses and the government and begins with Fela speak-singing over a mellow Afrobeat groove. On the b-side, “Don’t Worry About My Mouth O”, Fela proselytizes about his preference for traditional African ways, specifically the use of the African chewing stick over the toothbrush. He references Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan’s seminal Afrocentric work “Black Man of the Nile and His Family,” in which many African customs of the past were revealed – and which Fela eventually took as his bible.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu



1. Stalemate
2. Don't Worry About My Mouth O [African Message]

Fear Not For Man (1977)

Fear Not For Man was written in the heat of Fela’s conflict with the military. The title track is a provocation expressing Fela’s lack of fear in the face of the authoritarian regime’s brutality; no matter how hard they beat him, they would never break him. This is made even more explicit on the album cover, which depicts Fela, bleeding, and yet still playing the sax.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


1. Fear Not for Man
2. Palm Wine Sound [Instrumental]

Jul 27, 2011

Analog Africa: How freedom sounds ...

Detective and Archivist: Samy Ben Redjeb raises with his label Analog Africa forgotten treasures. Its mission is to save music from oblivion.

Collectors live dangerous, if only because their passion can easily become addictive. Where to put all the beautiful things? And how do you keep them in good condition? The German-Tunesian Samy Ben Redjeb has a particularly hard hit: He has a dust allergy. For years he shared in his small apartment in Frankfurt, Germany with just under 30,000 vinyl from Africa. He recently renovated the apartment and rearranged the meter-high vinyl treasures into a separate room. In the small backyard office, headquarters of his record label Analog Africa hundreds of other are stored. Samy Ben Redjeb passion for African images of the sixties and seventies - a music era, in Europe and the USA is currently being rediscovered.

So bring British record companies like Strut and Soundway out classics and rarities of the Afro-Beat, and bands such as Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club Vampire Weekend or integrate highlife guitars in their sound. Samy Ben-Redjeb has published recently in this niche market now has nine albums, the compilation "Angola Soundtrack - The unique sound of Luanda (1968-1976)".

In his office, the 40-year-old the original disks for ages and countries has sorted. Among them: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, or Senegal. In all these countries he has searched for weeks and brought music and musicians, including original recordings licenses to Germany. "If I find a brilliant record, I buy it, even 50 times to help finance the sale with my label," he says.

Ben Redjeb is a loose type of hooded sweatshirt and sneakers. Until he was 17, he lived with his father in Tunisia and visited his German mother only during the holidays. "Not an easy time," says the Deutschtunesier, which is an early fascination for pop music music interessierte.Arabische him, however. "I am not a big fan of arababischen sounds, even the political hip-hop from there, am not my thing." But the democratic movement in his second home makes him proud. "Unlike before, now everyone knows where is Tunisia."

Ben Redjeb story is that of a restless: After school diploma in Germany, he goes to the Navy, is an instructor in Greece, working as a hotel-DJ in Turkey and Senegal. In Dakar, he is the first time with the music of the continent in touch - "a defining moment" with his late twenties, opened a shop for African Accessories in Frankfurt, with little success.. A friend gave him the idea to try it as a steward. "A solid job and fly low to find my music, that was it!" Soon he is working on flights to Accra, Lagos and Addis Ababa. Another advantage is that he speaks six languages: In addition to German and Arabic, French, Italian, English and Spanish.
There are the languages ​​of the former colonialists, who facilitate the frank Ben Redjeb access to land and its people. The purchase of the album "Shuba Gwindingwi Raine" by Thomas Mapfumo (1980), which was recorded in Zimbabwe at the end of the Revolutionary War had changed everything, says the 40-year-old. "That was the sound I've always wanted." So began his mission to save music from oblivion. He is addicted to free music: "Where people are fighting for their freedom, because the musicians have something that they have perhaps never more later."

The foundations he laid for his label in 2004 with the publication of Songs of the Zimbabwean band The Green Arrows. The group led by singer Zexie Manatsa belonged in the early seventies, the most famous of the country. Later as the band leader Ben Redjeb twenty years makes, this is old almost 60 years and works as a pastor. "He has agreed to a publication, although he said that this was the music for him long gone," said Ben Rejeb. For the re-release of Ben Redjeb initially missing the reference numbers of the singles. But he needs to get hold of the original tapes, the store at a record company in South Africa.

Ben Redjeb awakens intuition. He interviewed producers, distributors and representatives and months later, in the backyard of a former warehouse, South American plate dealer find. "I have found there every single plate of the Green Arrows and purchased about 4000 singles," says Ben Rejeb. But back in Germany until he finds a label that will release the album "because most of the music was African," says Ben Rejeb. Eventually enters a small label, which later goes bankrupt. In the end, put the first album four years of work and material gain of 2000 € - but for a larger ideal. "By publishing the Green Arrows fever came back to Zimbabwe. The band went on tour again. "

Ben Redjeb is picky. "An archaeologist takes everything he excavates. I have come out only songs that sound especially in my ears, "he says. Afropsychedelik, polyrhythmic funk and tribal-diagonal rhythm and blues particularly interest him. It is the sound of Western instruments, varies with age-old African music. "We are black, proud and beautiful: In this new consciousness, the music has developed as a political revolt. It marks the identity of this generation, "says Ben Rejeb.'m In different ways, to that end, the music in all African countries changed," In many places, the sound over the years, faster and more aggressive and after the independence vote colors came from the diaspora like that of Otis Redding , Aretha Franklin or James Brown to, "says Ben Rejeb. has in some countries, the music mixed with sounds derehemaliger slave sites in Cuba, from Cape Verde and the Dominican Republic." Thus the music of the islands are practically like returning to the Continent-runner ". this style, he dedicated the analog-Africa-album" Mambo Loco ".

And because Ben Redjeb is important that the listeners get a feel for the history of music, he puts every album he puts in a detailed booklet about the musician and his research. "I want to make people just love the way I am," he says. And this love can be felt.



The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the link. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!

Jul 21, 2011

George Danquah - Hot and Jumpy (Download)

"The music of this album, like the product of a wandering minstrel, is colored by the travels and adventures of the performer. These are not the songs of the jungle, nor are they work tunes. They are urban interpretation that leap with the rhythms of the modern day cities. But at their root they are pure African strain of daily life."

osibisaba.blogspot.com offers a link to download here.


George Danquah’s Hot Jumpy is one of the most collectable funky gems to come out of the incredible music scene in Ghana during the 70s. Today original copies can easily fetch over $300. To many collectors, this record seems to have come out of nowhere. It is the only known album by this New Edubiase (3 hours NW of Accra) native. He appears to have arrived out of thin air, recorded one of the funkiest albums in African history, and then vanished. However, this isn’t entirely true.

Danquah played with many of Ghana’s top musicians all throughout his career. Before recording this album he toured all over West Africa playing in such bands as Benya Beats, Blue Monks (which C.K. Mann, Ebo Taylor, and Pat Thomas were all members of), and the legendary Uhuru Dance Band (one of today’s most popular artists from this scene thanks to some wonderful compilations in recent years). He honed his skills playing with some of the country’s greatest musicians and arrangers. Hot and Jumpy is the culmination of many years of hard work and musical exploration.

As the cover art states, Hot and Jumpy offers up “New Dimensions in African Hustle! Reggae! Native! Soul!” It ranges from monster funk bombs like “Just For A Moment” and “Araba Soso Wo Ndzema” to super mellow reggae cuts like “African Reggae” (which pretty much breaks any stereotypes about Ghanaian Reggae).

“Why Worry-Let’s Do Highlife” is a refreshingly funky take on the classic sound of Ghana. Tracks like “Mbesiafo” and “Chain of Love” mix all of the above together (and then some).

fatbeats.com are going to re-publish this amazing disc soon!


01. Mbesiafo (Part One)
02. African Reggae
03. Just For A Moment
04. Araba Soso Wo Ndzema
05. Chain Of Love
06. Why Worry - Let's Do "Highlife"
07. Mbesiafo (Part Two - Vocal)
08. Mese Medo No
09. Onyame Sane

The Afrobeat Diaries ... by allaboutjazz.com (Pt.24)

Thanx to Chris May for the permission to re-post these series!!!

Read the full article at allaboutjazz.com.


Part 24 - Ghariokwu Lemi: Fela Kuti And Me

In an illuminating interview, artist and sleeve designer Ghariokwu Lemi talks to Afrobeat Diaries about his work and friendship with Fela Kuti. The interview attests to the indelible link between Lemi's designs and Kuti's music, and to a working relationship which, Lemi reveals, broke down only once, over 1977's Sorrow Tears And Blood. The interview is a follow-up to an earlier one given by Lemi to Afrobeat Diaries, The Art Of Afrobeat.

Starting with 1974's Alagbon Close, and continuing through 1989's Beasts Of No Nation, Lemi was responsible for around half of Kuti's album sleeve designs. His art was, and remains, an integral part of Afrobeat's message. In 2011, Lemi is still Afrobeat's most sought-after sleeve designer.

Lemi gives the stories behind five sleeves, starting with Ikoyi Blindness...

"Fela composed the song 'Ikoyi Blindness' in 1975. It is about class disparity and insensitivity, using Nigerian society as its example and the Lagos metropolis as its focal point. Uptown Lagos consists of Ikoyi and Victoria Island, areas inhabited by the mega rich, the wealthy and the nouveau riche. While in downtown Lagos are decrepit areas like Mushin and Ajegunle, where the teeming masses live in poverty.

"My cover illustration portrays a puffed-up lawyer, representing the bourgeoisie, in the foreground, scurrying away in disregard of the vast, densely populated neighborhood in the background. This is my graphic way of expressing the uncharitable lack of attention given by the establishment to the needs of the wider society. The protagonist in his self-conceit rushes ahead in blind folly, preferring to head for the abyss rather than assuage the demands of the proletariat, who are in hot pursuit. In our society, we are wont to put square pegs in round holes, and that is putting it mildly. Colonial mentality is a hard yoke to break.

"The medium was oil on board, and was one of the rare instances where my cover art was done double the actual size of a record sleeve. About 95% of my covers are done the same size as the finished product. I found a willing and suitable model in my good friend Durotimi Ikujenyo, one-time rhythm pianist for Fela's Egypt 80 band. I often used real life models to capture the human expression I wanted to portray in my translation of the great musical and lyrical message of the legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

"Fela's change of last name from Ransome-Kuti to Anikulapo-Kuti was announced on this cover. I also took the opportunity to reveal my own new set of names.

"Fela wrote 'Yellow Fever' in 1975 and, like he usually did, performed it every week at the Africa Shrine and everywhere else he gave a show, until he eventually decided to make it into an album. I designed the Yellow Fever cover in 1976, having witnessed the composition of the song, and also being aware of the particular message that Fela was trying to put across to society in general, and women especially. The song is an admonition to African women who are fond of using bleaching creams to lighten their dark skin tone.

"Having listened to the song lyric several times and identified its central issues, I decided to use a model to express visually what Fela had orally illustrated in the song. Points of emphasis include the bad effect of skin lighteners on the face and bum. In this I saw an opportunity to display my talent in portraiture and figure drawing.

"My life model was a girl named Kokor, who was a member of the household in Kalakuta Republic [Kuti's live/work commune]. Actually, I remember to my chagrin that other girls were saying that they could recognize Kokor as the model. I had thought the rough patches I put on the face would have prevented Kokor being so easily recognizable.

"On this cover, I decided I was going to be straight-in-your-face with my imagery of a misinformed African beauty concept. I showed a rough and patchy face with boobs and bum in tow! Fela had taken great pains, in a no-holds-barred kind of way, to express disgust at the ignorance of the belief that skin lightening enhances African beauty. I showcased a typical offending cream in the top left corner of my cover art. This is representative of a typical bleaching cream in those days. 'Soyoyo Cream Skin Bleacher' was actually my own creation. The word 'soyoyo' is a Yoruba expression for 'bright and glow,' while 'Soyoyo' here is actually referring to white people. Then I painted in the price tag of 40 naira. This was at the high end of the product range, but true. Despite an 'exclusive' price, these creams are so harmful to beauty and health, and to the psyche of African womenfolk.

"Fela reacted very positively when I submitted this cover for his approval. In his characteristic manner, he glowingly said, 'Goddamn!' To round up, he added, 'Lemi is a mutherfucker, me-e-n!!!'

"Well, Fela Kuti, and the way he treated social issues in his music, was always controversial. And so was my Yellow Fever cover.

"The cover art for Zombie is a bold collage of guerrilla reportage photographs, using a cut-up technique. The dynamism of this idea is a fitting vehicle for what is perhaps the most provocative of Fela's classic albums. Fela wrote 'Zombie' in 1976, having been several times harassed by military personnel. The then military government in Nigeria had, amongst other objectionable things, instructed soldiers to horsewhip erring drivers on the highway, in an on-the-spot meting out of punishment. The soldiers carried out this order with a dumb obedience suggestive of real zombies in action.

"The instant Fela composed the song, everyone, including some military personnel from the nearby Albati Barracks, fell in love with the catchy rhythm, and the martial tempo, which galvanized the dancers, who wouldn't let the song end. Fela's cheeky reprise of the army bugle call got them jumping and whooping with joy at being able to mock the oppressors they feared and despised. The song became an anthem of protest for students and workers. A weapon of sorts, which they chanted under their breath anytime they felt oppressed by military personnel.

"When the time came for me to do the cover art for this landmark song, I at first found myself unable to focus on the right idea. I was overwhelmed with different ways of graphically expressing the song. The breakthrough came just in time one Kalakuta morning, when Fela was asking how the sleeve was coming along. At that moment, Tunde Kuboye, a photographer, film maker and jazz musician, and the husband of Fela's niece, Frances, walked in. He was carrying a bunch of his recent photographs, taken at the Independence Day military parade in Tafawa Balewa Square.

"I think that sometimes the universe provides material when I need something really badly for my art. Tunde walked in at the right time with those amazing photographs. As we checked them out, I couldn't hold back my excitement as I recognized the fortuitous materials I had been craving in my spirit. I just exclaimed 'Aaaahhh, this na wetin ah go use for the cover, men-n!'

"With Tunde's permission, I selected ten military images, and a few of Fela. I was set on making a graphic collage on this cover. Back in my studio, I laid a cardboard matte on my drawing board and edited Tunde's ten shots down to four.

"I remember that at that moment I was feeling like a shaman. I was trying to see how they fit, and as I put them down, the pictures just dropped into a position reminiscent of an Ifa divination—without conscious effort on my part. Quickly, not wanting to take any chances, I fitted the pictures down with masking tape, then traced their position in pencil. Spreading the Cow Gum from its red tube, I overlapped the photos and deftly cut and pasted them down. Thereafter using a hard paintbrush and thick poster color paint, I wrote in freehand the album title, Fela's name and that of the band directly over the picture, outlining the result with a Rotring pen. Finally, I added the shadows.

"The sleeve was like a solid shadow of the song and was an instant hit at Kalakuta, in Nigeria, Africa and around the world. Its immediacy led new listeners to wonder what lay on the inviting vinyl inside. For the initiated, it told the story of life under an oppressive military dictatorship—and what it takes to come through feeling that you're still somehow in command of your destiny. Like the mighty Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, fearless in admonishing the guilty ones here.

"I sometimes get into a reverie and spin back my life's time-capsule to the golden days of the 1970s: the great times I had with friends and accomplices trying out a little naughtiness and rascality, and maybe some criminality, the moment we were let out of the sight and control of our parents or guardians. And here I was in Kalakuta every day of the year, visiting with my mentor and patron and doing some reasoning—occasions when we sometimes delivered judgement on the evils being perpetrated by the establishment.

"Yes, it was the best of all times to be a soul rebel and a youth radical. [Photo shows Lemi, centre, with Mabinuori Idowu, left, and Durotimi Ikujenyo, the three founder members of the activist group the Young African Pioneers, at YAP's launch at the Shrine in 1976. 'The three musketeers,' says Lemi. 'Fela was the don dada.']

"Fela wanted me to learn to smoke. He had been nudging me for quite a while, and sometimes in a mischievous way. 'How can my artist be drinking Fanta Fanta Fanta? Lemi you have to smoke igbo [weed], men-n!!!' That was it. The master had marked his territory and the acolyte had to go through a paradigm shift.

"It was Wednesday, June 16, 1976, early evening, and Fela had shared a little goro [a weed-infused drink] with me. I was high as a kite and feeling light as a feather, and walked gingerly in the company of Fela, his friends and aides, to his Range Rover. Off we drove to Ikate, Surulere, in Lagos, to visit Fela's immediate family: his first wife, Remi, and three children, Yeni, Femi and Sola. They lived away from all the drama at Kalakuta. As we sat in the family living room exchanging banter, I was in a mental struggle to stay focused and keep my concentration. I remember asking questions like, 'Can I can go ease myself in the bathroom and not flounder?' Fela was as patient as a nurse in explaining that being high was different from drunkenness, that I should just focus on being creative with my thoughts.

"Then, at 9pm on television, came news from South Africa that shocked the world. Defenseless primary school students, protesting against the enforced use of the Afrikaans language, had been shot dead by police in Soweto. We all jumped up from our seats in shock at such beast-like brutality. We discussed this all night long and all week thereafter. I must point out that, even with all this, Fela still had time to show concern for my welfare, for he eventually elected to drive me home himself. He carefully instructed me, as I alighted from his car to the cheers of neighbors: 'Lemi, just go inside, say goodnight to your mum and dad and go straight to bed. Ask no silly questions, men-n!!!'

"A few weeks later, Fela rehearsed a new composition, inspired by a brutality-catalog consisting of his own experiences, clashes between the police and university students, and other confrontations between the army and communities around Nigeria. He wove into this the growing repression by the racist police in apartheid South Africa. All this acted as material for a magnificent new song titled 'Sorrow Tears And Blood,' STB, on the Afrobeat menu.

"By the time the song was eventually recorded and ready for release in 1978, I had listened to Fela perform it at the Africa Shrine and other venues scores of times. My mind was set on the approach to take on my cover art. Having been privy to the rationale behind the message, I thought I was home free with my concept, like always. Fela was ghoulish in his description of a typical scenario of a police or military raid and its effect. He was caustic in his admonition of a people who were too afraid to stand up for freedom and justice.

"It had been two years since Fela composed 'Sorrow Tears And Blood,' and a lot of water had passed under the bridge. Kalakuta Republic had been sacked by one thousand soldiers in a very horrendous raid in broad daylight. I put a bold, stoical and fearless Fela image on my canvas. My painting showed a crowd running away from an unseen cause; an empty road with a single military boot lost in the melee; a vulture waiting for a meal; soldiers meting out jungle justice; a screaming woman lost to fear.

"I thought I had nailed this cover for good, but Fela had the 'unknown soldier' all over his mind [an official government inquiry had ludicrously declared that an unauthorized 'unknown soldier' had set fire to Kalakuta, rather than a squad of soldiers acting on direct orders]. Fela and I also had different perspectives about some personal issues, relating to modus operandi. It was not my lucky day when I presented the cover art for Sorrow Tears And Blood to Fela for approval. The whole Kalakuta clan had moved in with J. K. Brimah, Fela's bosom friend and manager. They had just been evicted from their temporary abode in Crossroads Guest House, where they had moved after the burning of Kalakuta. Fela was actually presiding over a press conference when I walked in with my painting. Journalists were surprised to finally meet me and realise I was so young. They all showed interest and offered to do an interview with me after they were done with Fela.

"To tell you that, straight from the first glance, Fela reacted very negatively, would be a big understatement. He eventually insisted that I do another piece detailing the rape, plunder and arson by unknown soldiers at Kalakuta on February 18, 1977. He was quite aggressive as he questioned my allegiance and loyalty. 'Lemi, didn't you see the burning of my house, how they raped my girls and put bottles in their private parts?' He continued his admonishment, 'Why are these people running, what is chasing after them?' He was referring to the running people in my illustration. Just then, Gbubemi Orhirhi Ejeba, a member of YAP, and a colleague who had accompanied me, took up my defense, explaining that my illustration was expressing the lyric, 'My people dey fear too much, we dey fear for the thing we no see...'

"As for me, I was so browbeaten and dumbfounded by Fela's display that I couldn't utter a single word. 'Check your mind, your mind is weak. Is it because they burnt my house?' he went on. 'Today we are living in this place, tomorrow we may be living in the gutters, men-n! Abi government don bribe you?' By this time, Fela was livid and poking me on the chest as he registered his annoyance. It was like getting comeuppance for doing something that I didn't know was wrong.

"I had been disgraced before everyone, with the press people in attendance. I just started crying like a child, even though I was 22. I picked up my artwork and walked out with a resolve to prove my mettle in due time. As Gbubemi Orhirhi Ejeba and I left the compound, I started driving home in my Volkswagen Camper with him, and I said, with resolve, that I didn't deserve that treatment from Fela for no good reason at all. It was like the metaphorical scales fell out of my eyes as I said in anger, 'I no dey go Fela house again lai lai!!!' I was shattered and my heart was full of sorrow, so much so that I decided it was time for me to move on with my life. This led to a break that lasted for the next eight years.

"Whenever I do interviews and am asked about my most favorite Fela Kuti song and cover art, even though I have more than a handful of favorites, I always remember my first choice is Sorrow Tears And Blood. And now you know the reason why!

"Beasts Of No Nation was Fela's own pound of flesh, with barbs in tow, aimed at his jailers in an eighteen month, undeserved incarceration emanating from a trumped-up currency trafficking charge. Smarting from his hideous experience in jail, Fela throws his punches like an enraged prize-fighter seeking revenge from a blow struck below the belt. This is socio-political commentary in a no-holds-barred attack, with the strongest language a poet can use as armoury, innuendos included. This was 1988.

"In Fela's typical style of naming songs, 'Beasts Of No Nation' came with an acronym, BONN, which is a subtle reference to the capital city of Germany and the days of Adolf Hitler's Nazism. Yes, it was pure Nazism that was going on in apartheid South Africa at that time. The bestiality of dictatorial rulers was legion, and evident across the world, and this was an opportunity for Fela to deal his blow on the global political stage. From Nigeria's dictatorial military rulers, Muhammed Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon; Zaire's maximum ruler, Mobutu Seseko; Britain's 'milk snatcher' Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher [so-called for cutting free milk for school children]; America's 'rustler' President, Ronald Reagan; to South Africa's draconian, racist Prime Minister, P.W. Botha. Nobody was going to be spared from the wrath of Nigeria's musical enfant terrible.

"The music is as powerful as it gets and beneath his knife-edge cutting sarcasm, Fela's voice shuddered with rage. It would take a serious sleeve to convey that acid tone visually. Contemplating Fela's provocative title and the range of his targets, I knew I had to depict the evils of South African apartheid, and the failures and hypocrisy of the United Nations, as so powerfully set out in his song. I made the oppressors look like rats because that's their mentality. Fela was very brave and strong and audacious to compose and record such a direct attack on both the local and global establishments. Expanding on the lyrics, I portrayed the oppressors with animal horns and fangs. This is no child's play, it is activist art, and it has got to be bold and in your face.

"Vivid details such as the slavering vampires of Thatcher, Botha, Reagan and Mobutu cram the frame with juicy satire. The quote used on the top left of the cover is from a speech by Botha, and among my beasts are Generals Buhari and Idiagbon, the men responsible for Fela's 1984 jail stint. The images on Beasts Of No Nation seethe with primal urges like greed, control, vengeance—and the spirit of popular defiance, embodied in the exuberant demonstrators waving a placard with a line from the song, 'Human Rights Is Our Property.' They shake their fists at the establishment, as represented by two rodents in robes of Church and State. The demonstrators wear Black Power sunglasses, their pink tracksuits pulsate with pastel clarity against the sombre palette of their enemies. Fela's costume is the same exuberant pink, and their gestures are echoed in his triumphant Black Power salute, as he faces them across the frame, while the offending judge cowers at his feet.

"To do this sleeve I was actually invited, or summoned, in an official letter from Fela's younger brother, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti. Beko had taken over the management of Fela's business when Fela was in jail. I learnt that it was imperative that I have the cover art ready within two weeks. I delivered right on time—and it was momentous. That sleeve was acclaimed by all, and I felt a sense of fulfilment and vindication. Once again, I was on the Kalakuta team, back on the block, solid as a rock, or so I thought.

"Then came another command to go see Beko at Kalakuta. As soon as I walked into his office, I spotted my artwork. It still hadn't gone to the printers. According to Beko, a meeting had decided that then Head of State, President Ibrahim Babangida, should be added to the rogue's gallery on the sleeve—a direct provocation that asked for trouble, very much in the style of Fela. Cleverly, I replied that unless Babangida was mentioned in the lyrics, I saw no reason to include him in my illustration. Dr. Beko pondered a moment, shook my hand and agreed. 'I think that is reasonable,' he said, looking at me as though in admiration of my political savvy, and I grinned as I walked out of his office with a light gait."

Jul 20, 2011

Fela Kuti - No Agreement (1977)/ Shuffering and Shmiling (1978)


1977′s Shuffering and Shmiling really highlights the genius of Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. It clocks in at 21minutes, a typically energetic Afrobeat groove, chugging funky bass, stabbing horns with an extended Fela sax solo at the beginning that actually predicts the coming vocal melody. When it finally does come at about the nine minute mark it’s Fela the schoolmaster, reverend perhaps, taking us into his confidence and teaching us a lesson. He’s very much aware of his audience leading us into ‘any goddamn church or any goddamn mosque.’ On the cover he poses a question ‘Why Not African Religion,’ and this is the central premise of one his angriest and most provocative songs. It’s a denouncement of the religions of Nigeria’s previous colonial masters, Christianity and Islam, touching upon the violence at the time that was occurring between Nigerian Christians and Muslims. Fela believed that this had little to do with Africa and had little do with the life of working Nigerians. Whilst Fela had ridiculed his government, religion is of course a different matter, questioning why people needed to suffer on earth to find happiness in heaven whilst the clergy who peddles these beliefs live in opulence. Fela of course was never afraid of a little social critique.

The genius however is that it really is an incredible song, everything works from its melodies, to its groove to its sentiment. It’s also the one song that kids pick up on thanks to it’s repeated Amen’s from his back up singers, not realising the deeper context. Though that’s probably true of much of Fela’s music where the message can be obscured by his pidgin English and mischievous wordplays masking the anger and despair at the heart of his message.

No Agreement, another 1977 release is another example of Fela at the peak of his powers. Charging funk with sax and organ solos. The guitar riff itself is the kind of taut repetitive style Jb’s funk and everything just bounces off it. The brass is particularly potent thanks to the inclusion of Lester Bowie (Art Ensemble of Chicago) who spent three months living with and sitting in with Fela. It’s really interesting about seven minutes in it seems to stop, turn on its head and start up again. It’s a really weird technique but it really works at building the dynamic. Over the throbbing groove the sax and trumpet solos come closer to free-jazz than ever before. He begins singing at about 11 minutes in and as you can imagine it’s Fela letting us know that he’s in the fight for the long haul. ‘No agreement today No agreement tomorrow,” he offers before his backup singers pick up the mantra. Great short sharp horns stabs too.

The album ends with a rare instrumental called Dog eat Dog, and it’s a taut slab of Afro funk, kind of relaxed 5 minute workout where you can hear Fela (as also on No Agreement), counting out the tempo changes to the band. It’s a great tune and it caps off an inspired pairing of two of his more provocative political agitations from a time when the band were at their peak. This is some of the best music he made.

cyclicdefrost.com, written by Bob Baker Fish


Recorded in 1977, No Agreement follows the Afro-beat template to a masterful level: amazingly catchy guitar lines that replicate a bass guitar in their construction, a second guitarist to add some JB's funk power, driving horn section proclamations, intricate saxophone, trumpet and organ improv solos, and then Fela Anikulopo Kuti's wit and message for the people. Even though Fela had vowed to speak his mind, he turns in a song where he proclaims to keep his mouth shut if it means that he will harm his brothers and sisters in the population (not that he actually does, as some of his most scathing songs have yet to come). "No Agreement" is decidedly some of the most interesting instrumentation that he had turned in. With help from Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter extradordinare Lester Bowie (Bowie turned in a tenure of about a year with Fela), the solos are magically inspired and the rhythm section rolls on with the power of a steamroller. "Dog Days," the instrumental B-side, sounds more like "No Agreement" part two; it does, however, carry its own weight -- again with the help from Bowie.



After the 1977 police attack on Fela's Kalakuta Republic, where his mother and about 80 members of his entourage and band were injured and arrested, he set out to light a fire underneath the authority figures and his various other enemies that were causing him and, in his eyes, the people of Nigeria to suffer in the form of harassment, oppression, and economic devastation. Shuffering and Shmiling is one of those comments. While continuing along in his tradition of savvy instrumental innovation, "Shuffering and Shmiling" plays out with the same intensity and voracious soloing that mark other great Africa 70 performances like Confusion, Gentleman, and No Agreement; but the point of departure here is the outward remarks he makes on a touchy topic: religion. Fela had become increasingly concerned about the growing influence of non-traditional religions fracturing African countries. He believed that these divisions had created a population unable to unify and stand up for themselves and instead had them living in conditions that forced "them go pack themselves in like sardine (into a bus): Suffering and smiling," and without trying to change things he says they "Suffer suffer for world/Enjoy for heaven." Shuffering and Shmiling is another highly recommended Fela Kuti and Africa 70 release.



“Shuffering & Smiling Pts 1-2″ is one of Fela’s most recognizable songs. From the start, the interlocking guitars set the mood for the song with Fela’s improvisational keyboard lines gliding over the backdrop of guitar and percussion. The first ten minutes of the song is composed entirely of an instrumental backdrop with solos from different members of the ensemble interjecting throughout. Fela then begins the vocal section of the song with a request, “You Africans, please listen to me as Africans. You non-Africans, please listen with an open mind.” He then goes on to decry the double-standards and hypocrisies of organized religion, Islam and Christianity in particular, the two religions that have had the most widespread impact on Nigerian culture. He claims that religion causes people to suffer with a smile on their face, all the while believing they have a reward coming in their afterlife. He calls into question their beliefs by accusing them of blindly following the flock.



Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti specialized in the percolating jam, peppered with idiosyncratic horn stabs and political chants, underpinned with sinuous, interweaving guitar and bass lines, and propelled by Tony Allen's Afrobeat percussion, blending traditional Yoruban rhythms and contemporary James Brown beats. SHUFFERING AND SHMILING is trademark Fela, mixing several lengthy, irresistibly danceable tracks (including "Dog Eat Dog," a collaboration with Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie) with the bandleader's polemics against government injustice and the exploitation of his people by political and racial forces. In the hands of a lesser artist, such political sermonizing would quickly pall; here, it's icing on the cake. Taking the socially aware stance of late-'60s and early-'70s James Brown to its logical musical and political conclusion, Fela's music was both an inspirational rallying cry for his people and a constant thorn in the side of the Nigerian authorities. The latter habitually responded with brutal force, the decades-long war of attrition only ending with the master musician's death from AIDS-related causes in 1997.



No Agreement (1977)

“No Agreement” showcases some of Fela and the Africa 70’s highest caliber work within the signature Afrobeat genre. Smooth guitar parts and a pronounced brass section (which included the addition of Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie), improv solos on the sax, and backed by excellent organ and trumpet and Fela’s keen lyrical insight, “No Agreement” hits all the right parts. Lyrically the track “No Agreement” can be likened to Peter Tosh’s “Never Gonna Give Up” – Fela will never reach an agreement or compromise with the oppressive forces that fight against progressive social change and the psychological liberation of post-colonial Africans. Fela asks himself, essentially, “how can I remain silent when my brother is hungry and homeless?” His answer: I cannot. The album concludes with Dog Eat Dog, an instrumental piece whose name refers to the metaphorical rat race.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


1. No Agreement 15:31
2. Dog Eat Dog (Instrumental)

Shuffering and Shmiling (1978)

As Fela progressed as an artist, he evolved into a political and social tour de force in Nigeria. In “Shuffering and Shmiling”, an expansive track spanning two sides and reaching over 20 minutes in length, Fela takes on the subject of religion, denouncing the two religions of the colonial masters, Christianity and Islam, which he believed helped sustain passivity in the downtrodden masses. Fela rejects the idea of suffering on earth with the hope of finding happiness in heaven, and points out that the leaders who espouse these beliefs often live hypocritically in opulence. Instead, Fela urges the embrace of traditional African beliefs.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


1. Shuffering And Shmiling (Part 1)
2. Shuffering And Shmiling (Part 2)

Jul 18, 2011

Voodoofunk presents "Stoneface And Life Everlasting"

Originally posted by Mr. Frank "Voodoofunk" Gossner:

This was the first recording by Stoneface Iwuagwu and his first band the Life Everlasting, first released in 1973 and this single marks the beginning of a series of 45s to be brought to you by Voodoo Funk & Academy Lps. This first release should hit stores about 2-3 weeks from now. Only 1.000 copies were pressed so be quick!

My friend Uchenna Ikunne from Comb & Razor, without whom we would not have been able to put this record out, provides us with a bit of background information on Stoneface and his band:

"Innocent Iwuagwu received the name "Stoneface" during his tenure as a singer in the Tall Men, a mid-1960s Enugu-based pop group. While with the Tallmen, he also taught himself to play the drums. In 1967, shortly after the Eastern region of the country declared its sovereignty as the Republic of Biafra, Stoneface was invited to play drums for the top pop band in the region, The Postmen, by the group's guitarist Goddy Oku.

The Postmen didn't last long after that as their popular lead singer, Sonny Okosuns, had been deported from Biafra. In 1968 Stoneface joined the In Crowd, led by Lasbrey Ojukwu and stayed with the group until the end of the war in 1970. After the war, he joined The Soulmen, an army group based in Ogoja. The Soulmen soon relocated to Enugu, where Stoneface left and joined his old friend Goddy Oku's new group The Hygrades in 1971.

He left The Hygrades (probably around '72) and played for a little bit in Ify Jerry Krusade, led by another old mate from The Postmen, Ify Jerry.

Around 1973, he decided to form his own band and he rounded up a bunch of teenage musicians--singer Kingsley "Dallas" Anyanwu (from the high school band Dee-Mites), lead guitarist Maurice "Jackie Moore" Anyaorah (from Salt & Pepper Organisation), rhythm guitarist Roy Obika and bassist Jimi Henshaw--and formed Life Everlasting.

Unlike many of the Eastern groups of the post-war era, Life Everlasting was sponsored not by the army but by Stoneface's elder brother. But the amount of financing provided couldn't buy them state-of-the-art gear, so they used mostly instruments constructed by local carpenters and amps and pedals built by electronics wiz Goddy Oku.

They were signed by EMI and recorded their first single, "Love is Free" b/w "Agawalam Mba" at the EMI studio in Apapa, Lagos. The session featured a studio musician playing polyphonic organ that ended up not making the final mix.

The record was a hit and they followed it up with "Everyday" b/w "Love Him" (Stone says he thinks they *might* have recorded a third single but he cant' remember what it might have been called..."

Academy LPs is proud to announce the debut of it's Academy Special Single series in conjunction with Voodoo Funk (Frank Gossner). First up is a single by Stoneface and Life Everlasting, from the Nigerian Music Scene. This is their only 7 inch, from 1973. This single is a fantastic two side: Love is free is a gritty Psych Rock tune with a trippy guitar solo while Agawalan Mba is a bulldozing Afro-Funk tune with gravelly vocals and heavy fuzz guitar. An incredibly rare and great single rescued from obscurity by Academy/Voodoo Funk released as a limited edition (1000 copies) picture sleeve 7". Less than 5 original copies are known worldwide!

Academy is proud to announce the debut of it's Academy Special Single series in conjunction with Voodoo Funk (Frank Gossner).

All 45s will come in deluxe custom designed picture sleeves, have original "punch out" style records and will feature the rarest and best African 45s Frank has turned up in his years of digging in Africa. This, as all the singles in this series, will be strictly limited to 1000 copies.

First up is a single by Stoneface and Life Everlasting. Stoneface was already a veteran of the Nigerian Music Scene when he formed this band and cut this (their only) 7" in 1973. Starting with The Tall Men in the mid '60s, Stoneface was soon asked to join The Postmen with legendary guitarist Goddy Oku and the great Sonny Okosuns. After a stint in the Highgrades, he formed his own group with Kingsley 'Dallas' Anywanhu (from the Highschool band Dee-Mites), lead guitarist Maurice 'Jackie Moore' Anyaorah, rhythm guitarist Roy Obika and bassist Jimmy Henshaw -- and formed Life Everlasting.

This single is a fantastic two side: 'Love is free' is a gritty Psych Rock tune with a trippy guitar solo while 'Agawalan Mba'is a bulldozing Afro-Funk tune with gravelly vocals and heavy fuzz guitar. An incredibly rare and great single rescued from obscurity by Academy/Voodoo Funk!



A1. Love Is Free

Love Is Free by Voodoo Funk

B1. Agawalam Mba

Agawalam Mba by Voodoo Funk

Jul 15, 2011

Ebo Taylor - An interview from 2010

The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the links. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!


These days the first internationally distributed album of Highlife and Afrobeat luminary Ebo Taylor is published.

That titling this as one of the founding fathers of West African musical culture is by no means too high, shows an impressive CV of the Ghanaian. "I've had six years of the first instruments on the slopes. Since my father was a good piano player, I learned quickly, "recalls Taylor. With 20 years Ebo stands as a leader of the Stargazers and the Broadway Dance Band on the stage, before it pulls him out of the 1962 fishing town on the Ghanaian coast Saltpond to Europe. In London he studied at the School of Music Eric Guilder. During his studies, he keeps meeting the man considered the father of Afrobeat: Fela Kuti. While driving the Kuti Afrobeat, celebrating Ebo new ways and begin to enrich the traditional highlife to western jazz elements and the playful use of guitars - his status as a signpost for the high life is still undisputed. Back in Ghana, Taylor worked as in-house producer for local labels like Gapophone Essiebons and shapes and decide the African music scene continues - also, because he is taking risks. "Over the years I've noticed that I started looking more and more to other genres such as Rock the interest," recalls Ebo Taylor, and from then on be incorporated more and more guitar riffs and funk licks in the traditional Ghanaian music. The result: a very special blend of highlife, afrobeat, jazz and rock.

Mixed old and new

Has taken the old master, 'Love & Death "in Berlin with the Afrobeat Academy - stuck behind several musicians from the Kabu Kabu collective, the Ghanaian legend Marijata and the Afrobeat combo Poets of Rhythm. Together they took the album in a few days in the capital. Was to go "with the Afrobeat Academy into the studio for me a very conscious decision," said Ebo Taylor. "When I was last year for a gig in Germany, we had the first sessions. We played around a bit and the guys really had a great mind. The energy was so good that we are directly on the spot if still wrote some songs. "The intensive recording sessions, you realize, 'Love & Death" certainly on. Due to the coherent sound image sounds the whole album as a unified whole - and this despite or perhaps because he has Ebo Taylor decided some of his earlier compositions, such as the title track "Love & Death" or the jazzy "Victory", with the taking album. The amazing thing: Even the compositions, which already have a few more years under his belt, differ in any way by the sound of the new arrangements. A phenomenon which was observed already at least companions such as Mulatu Astatke, Arthur Verocai or Tony Allen: Musical timelessness that in the fast-moving Internet age, often too short. On "Love and Death" unfolds the magic of this music away from the zeitgeist in an impressive way - and is manifested above bargain Ebo Taylor's importance for the history of African music in recent decades.

Originally published in the German magazine hhv-mag.com, written by Jan Wehn, Pictures by Tilman Junge

The interview

"It was a great time"

From his school days in Ghana, through his friendship with Fela Kuti, to Usher and Ludacris: The interview with the 74-year-old Afro-beat luminary Ebo Taylor spans a broad range.

No question: Afrobeat is booming. Indie rock bands like Vampire Weekend to celebrate the traditional African rhythms Ranschmeiße just like the samplewütige hip hop and R & B producers. Ebo Taylor, Fela Kuti, in addition to probably one of the fathers of Afrobeat and highlife music. With Love and Death was published late 2010, the first internationally distributed album of the 74-year-old and once again clearly reinforces its status as highlife and Afrobeat Koriphäe. A discussion about the transformation of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, his friendship with the sampling of his songs and of course the new album Love & Death, which he recorded together with the Afrobeat Academy in Berlin.

You are a musician since your are six years old. How did everything start?

Exactly. I started really early to play keyboard. At school I have pursued further and then I switched to the piano. At some point, someone brought out of the top vintages a guitar to class and I accompanied him on piano. But the instrument made ​​me immediately curious. Since I had to learn a lot and have not had enough free time, I practiced every day to play the guitar. That said, gets around and make friends band asked me if I wanted to play a concert with them. So I played the first time on a big stage in front of people. It was great and I got mad a lot of applause - which has then felt like I was a star. (laughs) Then I was accepted into the band (the Stargazers, author's note). At the end of the year we were playing one of the most popular highlife bands and at many schools for girls and boys. - It was a great time.

How you came to be a professional musician?

A little later we played concerts in the Ivory Coast, Liberia and South Africa. Again and again came up to me and said promoter at me if I wanted to play concerts. Until then, I could always put the performances on the holiday season, but eventually it went just do not - and so I decided, to be on tour and professional musician. Since I was just 19 years old. In 1959 I had my first real studio session and was nationally known.

This component had professional influence to play in their own way?

I think I was motivated by. I wanted to be a star, just like my American counterparts. Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall, they were my heroes! In addition to the actual guitar playing, I also learned arranging and composing and took over the job in the Broadway strip. That made me pretty nervous. (laughs) Eventually, it was also not particularly good and I was thrown for a few things from the band. I went to England ...

... Where you could study through a grant from the Government of Ghana Music ...

... and there is not only concentrated on the music. (laughs) I also began to write television scripts. Eventually, a piece about Ghanaian student bands will be filmed. So I came in contact with a few good musicians and founded the Black Star High Life Band. Among others I met there, Peter Keen and Fela Kuti. I was particularly thrilled by Fela. He had ideas from the jazz flow into his music and was always two or three steps ahead. I also began to listen to a lot of the time Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. I think that you could listen to my highlife music very quickly.

At some point, but you turned back to Ghana.

Ebo Taylor: Exactly. I was a freelance musician and songwriter, or arranged for the likes of Pat Thomas or "PopAgee" Johnson and played in various bands and founded among others, the Assassins. But the music was not very good. It seemed to me that would be as interested in people just not for old and traditional music. I think people are missing something. I was by this time many bands from abroad. Blood, Sweat & Tears and Deep Purple. James Brown was very successful and I liked that he did indeed rock, but the African influences were not to hear. So I sat down and brought the traditional songs with modern rock influences - so I created my own version of Afrobeat. Conflict on the album, which I recorded with Uhuru Yenzu, I used as many structures of jazz and highlife. At this time, Fela Kuti came home again and formed his band, Koola Lobitos and we played together a lot. I had enough exposure and was doing alright - but there was simply not much to do in Ghana. The nightlife at the time was as good as dead Just like the Afro Beat.

You have just mentioned Fela Kuti, you already met in England. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship?

We met at the weekend and played together in the small jazz clubs in town. But he was also a bit stubborn and independent, so I did not want to hang out with him constantly. (Laughs) He sometimes came unannounced on stage and stuff. Apart from that Fela took me really a lot of things and when I called him, for example, when our trumpet player was prevented. - (Thinks) But, we really liked. But we had many heated discussions about African music. I also have no problem when people play the Afrobeat as it has made him popular - but I think that legacy is there to develop it. The best example is probably the Afrobeat Academy here from Berlin.

How did it help with the Afrobeat Academy record an album?

I was in July 2009 at a festival in Germany and met a few of the musicians of the Afrobeat Academy. We were about three weeks together in the rehearsal room. A great time - the musicians went hot! The guys were really interested and had a great desire on the project. The special was that the guys from my old songs like Love and Dead or What Is Life a very different and have given new twist. The atmosphere between us was so good that some of the new songs on the record actually came right in the rehearsal room.

Was the mixture of old and new songs a conscious decision? You hear virtually no difference between old and new.

Definitely. The old songs serve as the pillars underpinning for the new songs. And it is with the old and the new material now have to visit the same composer at work. (Laughs)

Do you have any expectations, hopes, wishes of the album?

Oh, definitely. I mentioned already told them that my approach, Afro Beat and Rock music to connect with one another, were never very successful. My wish is that Afro Beat is rocking the whole world. Of course there are such things as Hiplife - many young musicians from Ghana to use the high life as the foundation and associate it with hip-hop elements. That will not survive long, however.

A very popular example of this is probably She Do not Know by Usher and Ludacris. The two have sampled your song Heaven. What do you think?

(laughs) That's very interesting. Through this song I got the two shows in a wonderful way of what you can do anything with my music. I'm very surprised, like Usher and his producers have dealt with the original. Apart from that I got it of course also a bit of money. (Laughs)

In addition, there are these days many indie rock bands like Vampire Weekend, afro-beat bonds in their songs have.

I do not know about Vampire Weekend. But the trend that Afrobeat influence on other genres, is in sight - I think it's great.

Afrobeat has changed over the decades?

Yes, definitely - each comes with its own style around the corner. The great thing is that the basic essence is still recognizable. What I want more, however, is the Afro Beat, who also works away from its use as dance music. Just as a jazz record you all to hang up in his room and enjoys.

Originally published in the German magazine hhv-mag.com, written by Jan Wehn, Pictures by Tilman Junge

Jul 12, 2011

Bob Ohiri and His Uhuru Sounds - Uhuru Aiye (download)

Lately I discovered one of the most amazing Afrobeat records which I have to share with all of you, therefore, be exited for amazing Bob Ohiri and His Uhuru Sounds.


Here's another exclusive from our friend John B (a man who digitizes vinyl impeccably!)

This is Uhuru Aiye by Bob Ohiri & his Uhuru Sounds. John tells us that there's not too much info furnished on the sleeve, but we do know that Bob Ohiri was a guitarist with King Sunny Ade's African Beats until the mid-80s (this album came up around 1985) and apparently played with Fela, as well.

The only musicians credited on the album are "Bob, Shegun (probably African Beats guitarist Segun Ilori) and Prince." Too bad we don't know all the musicians involved in this so that we may salute them as they deserve for creating this deliciously trippy concoction of juju, afrobeat and psychedelic rock.



Occupying a location somewhere near the intersection of Afrobeat, Juju and garage rock, the album Uhuru Aiye by Bob Ohiri and his Uhuru Sounds (Ashiko Records AR 001, ca. 1985) is often rumored but seldom heard. A track from it appears on the new collection Nigeria Afrobeat Special (Soundway SNWCD021), so it's worth taking a closer look.

Bob Ohiri was a guitarist with Sunny Adé's African Beats and is said to have briefly played with Fela's Africa '70, although I can't confirm that. The "Uhuru Sounds" were apparently a one-off - basically just some guys jamming in the recording studio. The only members credited on the sleeve are "Prince," "Bob" and "Shegun."

So what to make of the music? Uhuru Aiye is truly an odd and idiosyncratic amalgam - like no "World Music™" or "Afrobeat" or "Afrofunk" you've ever heard. It doesn't always succeed, but when it does it works very well.


LIKEMBE also offers a link to download this amazing album, check out the comments!


01. Ariwo Yaa
02. Obhiha
03. Aiye
04. Nigeria London na Lagos
05. Imo State Express
06. Africa is Free for Us
07. I Like to Be Free

Support Mr. VoodooFunk: Help us fight illegal African re-issues!

Original message by Mr. VoodooFunk here, re-posted coz of the important message!

Some lowlifes in France have put out an unauthorized re-issue of Gyedu Blay Ambolley's Simigwa LP. We have secured the official licensing for this record and are in the process of giving it a proper release. We have remastered the record from the original master tapes while the bootleg was recorded from a scratched up old record. They didn't even take the time and money to have the crackle removed.

The retailers selling this crap all know perfectly well that they are selling a shitty bootleg with the sound quality of a low quality mp3 and fully audible crackle and scratches.

Here are the latest offenders: Vinylism, Groove Collector, System Records & Jet Records

Some of these retailers also sell the recently bootlegged Moussah Doumbia and Ikenga Super Stars LPs.

Who would want to buy this shit?

Please tell everybody you know who is into this type of music to not buy these detestable products. They all originate from the same stinking French rat hole. Disgusting bottomfeeders that are stealing money from the people who made this music and from those who want to put it out legitimately.

Here's how you can help:

-Wherever you see ebay sellers or online mailorders offer this bootleg, buy it!

-Pay with Paypal.

-Paypal offers the possibility to directly re-fund your money if a purchased product is not how it was described by the seller. This does not only work for ebay sales but for all online purchases. Paypal guarantees your money and will give it back to you, no questions asked. The seller claimed that the record sounds like new but in fact it's an illegal bootleg pressed from a recording off a scratchy, old record. Clearly not as described. This gives you all the reason you need to perform a chargeback with Paypal.

-This is super easy to do. You get your money back and if the retailer is willing to pay for the shipping cost, you send back the record (this is unlikely to happen since the shipping cost will be close to what they paid for the bootleg in wholesale).

-If you see them in a record store, pull the record out of the sleeve and use your a key or whatever other small sharp object is handy to put a nasty scratch on it.

-Do not feel sorry for the retailers. They will always tell you they didn't know these were bootlegs. Trust me, everybody who sells records for a living can very easily tell that these are not legitimate releases and the dealers who peddle this shit are just as guilty as the lowlifes who produce it.

-Have fun in helping to teach this no class, chicken-stealing scum a lesson!

Jul 11, 2011

New album of Canadian Afrobeat band: Afrodizz "From Outer Space"

Released 02 July 2011.

No reviews right now - just wait for later - but already check it out and if you're like it buy it here!!!


1. Intro 01:13
2. Suspect 04:56
3. Arrival 06:17
4. Lethal venom 05:54
5. Flow 04:20
6. Joe and sugar 06:07
7. Wanna see 04:56
8. Future 05:26
9. You will be back 08:09

Somalian Funk: Iftin (free download @ amazing LIKEMBE)

Orginally posted by amazing LIKEMBE.

Information by LIKEMBE

"I've said this before, but I'll repeat it: The coolest blog out there is Frank Soulpusher's Voodoo Funk. Frank travels throughout West Africa digging up old obscure soul and funk records by local musicians. He posts mixes of his discoveries that usually have me dropping my jaw in wonderment. . . Whaaaa?

Of course, West Africa wasn't the only place that was obsessed with American-style R&B. Every African country had its own practitioners, some of them quite original. Ethiopia in particular created its own fusion of soul and traditional music that has drawn international acclaim.

Twenty years ago I thought that Somalia was immune to the funk virus. There was one recording of Somali music on the market, Original Music's Jaamila (OMA 107, 1987), recordings of oud, flute and voice that were interesting but not especially funky. Somali friends loaned me static-filled cassettes of artists like Sahra Axmed and others that were in a similar vein. There was a wildly-popular genre of home-made cassettes of recitations of Somali poetry. I began to wonder if there even was such a thing as modern Somali music at all.

Then my friend Ali handed me a cassette, an over-the-counter Sanyo stamped "Iftin." No case, no track listing; Ali couldn't even tell me anything about the group Iftin. He thought they may have been from northern Somalia, possibly from Djibouti or the Somali-speaking part of Ethiopia. But they definitely made modern Somali music.

Since this was first posted, we have heard from a Mr. Saanag, who provides much valuable information on Iftin. He writes:

Iftin ("Sunshine") was a big hit in Somalia in the 70's and 80's. Initially, they made theaters & schools "unsafe" with their brand of (slow) dance music and later discotheques & marriage ceremonies were conquered. It's one of the bands initiated by the Ministry of Education and Culture and they were based in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where most of the band members originally came from. The lead singer with the "Woweeee!" hair is a Somali of Yemenite origins (does his Yemeni ancestry shed a little light on your remark?). He's called Shimaali and some of his solo efforts are on YouTube.

Before I gave the tape back to Ali I dubbed it onto a 10-inch tape reel at WYMS-FM, where I used to do my radio program "African Beat." When I stopped doing the show in 2001 I had no way to listen to it, until now. I recently rented a reel-to-reel tape deck and have digitized it, so now I can give it to you!

Keep in mind that this cassette was produced in the do-it-yourself spirit that is common throughout Africa. It was no doubt duplicated on a boom box, so the sound quality isn't terrific. I think you'll agree, though, that the quality of the music outweighs this technical drawback.

This post is entitled "Somali Mystery Funk" because when I first wrote it I had no idea what the titles of the songs were or what they meant. Sanaag writes:

I think I've recognized all the tracks but keep in mind that many (old) Somali songs don't have an original title and the name of many others is unknown to the public. No-case-and-no-tracklisting is/was the daily pot-luck you just must take or leave in Somalia. So, each song gets several popular names."


01. Gabar ii Noqee
02. Codkeennii Kala Halow
03. Haka Yeelin Nacabkeenna
04. Lamahuraan
05. Weynoow
06. Jacayl Iima Roona
07. Hir Aanii Dhowyen ma Halabsado
08. Caashaqa Maxay Baray?
09. Baddaa Doon Baa Maraysoo
10. Toban Weeye Shaqalladu