Oct 31, 2011
In November 1984, Kuti was sentenced to two concurrent five-year prison sentences on a charge of attempting to smuggle some £1,500 out of Nigeria on a flight to New York. The charge was blatantly concocted (among other abuses of process, the currency declaration form Kuti had completed at Lagos airport was "lost" by the police), and a year later he was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He was released after serving 20 months.
When Kuti was jailed, Army Arrangement was awaiting release by Paris-based Celluloid Records, who had made a deal to rerelease some of his back catalogue along with the new album. Believing, misguidedly, that the tapes needed invasive attention, Celluloid first asked Dennis Bovell to do a remix. Because Bovell was unavailable immediately, Celluloid house producer Bill Laswell was drafted in. Laswell was dismissive of the album, scrubbed all Kuti's solos, added synthesized percussion, speeded it up and brought in Bernie Worrell and Sly Dunbar to overdub new keyboard and drum parts. Friends smuggled a tape of the Celluloid album into jail for Kuti to hear. "Listening to it was worse than being in prison," he said later.
Fortunately, the original version of Army Arrangement survived, and that's the one presented here. The lyric is astonishingly brave, even by Kuti's standards, accusing Nigeria's recently retired president, General Obasanjo, still an extremely powerful man (he later returned as president), of complicity in the disappearance of millions of US dollars generated by the export of oil.
Read the full article at allaboutjazz!
Army Arrangement, originally released in 1985, was comprised entirely of a half-hour track of the same name. Just because it's twice as long as Fela's usual songs doesn't mean it's twice as good. It's an average Fela recording, though the chanting chorus vocals come in earlier than they do on most of his pieces. The lyrics are among his most critical of the Nigerian military and government, focusing on the troubled period when the country returned to civilian rule at the end of the 1970s. Note that the MCA reissue of Army Arrangement is different from other releases with the same title, consisting of two tracks: a half-hour version of "Army Arrangement" and the previously unreleased, half-hour original version of "Government Chicken Boy." Musically, "Government Chicken Boy" is a little more interesting than "Army Arrangement," with ominous teams of horns and wordless chants leading into the usual trades of solos, and then a characteristic Fela lyric about obedient followers of authority.
For collectors like me, it is great to finally have the original version of "Army Arrangement" available on CD. The early 80s release of "Army Arrangement" was re-mixed by Bill Laswell in the hope of finally getting Fela some cross-over success. What they got instead was a syrupy, poppy, disco-y, keyboard infused piece of garbage that Fela fans hated and the un-indoctrinated ignored. Here we finally get the full 30-minute "Army Arrangement" jam in its original glory, along with a five-times longer account of "Government Chicken Boy" (29:15 here but only 5:47 on the original Celluloid release!). Despite this much improved mix, most of Fela's material with Egypt 80 is still too keyboard driven for my tastes, and the biggest reason for my withholding a fifth star. Of course, all of the Fela reissues are really indispensable, and you should get them while you can.
Michael B. Richman
Army arrangement is the most funkiest African song that I have ever listened to, it's so funky that it could strip off the paint on your bedroom wall!
Fela was a musical legend, an innovator, a pan-africanist at heart & above all a government critique. Fela did not engage in praise music unlike other Nigerian musicians, social commentary was his forte.
At the time of release of this album, Fela was serving a prison sentence on a trumped-up currency charge. On the cover of this album Fela engages in his famous power salute with the caption "But sha, I still dey, there shall be no compromise", an indication that he would not buckle under any pressure whatsoever.
Army arrangement & Power show rank as my two favourite Fela songs, the rhythm & horn input on Army arrangement are both very heavy & hypnotic. It was one of the tunes used to open Fela's show at his most famous shrine in Lagos.
Government chicken boy is a more restrained track, although it is not the highlight on this album, it complements a few beers & some pepper stew, if you catch my drift (Nigerians would mostly understand this).
I urge you to buy this album & enjoy this true masterpiece! Definitely worth the 5 stars! Very special indeed...
Army Arrangement (1984)
Army Arrangement is about Nigeria’s attempt at ‘democracy’ in 1979 after more than a decade of military rule. In 1970, Nigeria emerged from a three-year Biafra civil war with the largest standing army in black Africa, no financial debts – careering along on at least two million barrels of sulphur-low oil, pumped daily into the world market. With such revenue invested prudently in the Nigerian economy, there should be no reason for any Nigerian to live below the poverty line. However, with persistent scandals of corruption as the standard in every administration since independence, the army has lost all credibility to effect any change in the system. Especially since the arrival of the military in the political arena created the illusion of a peaceful ‘democratic’ participation in government. With the daily running of government carried out by civilians who reported to military bosses, Fela, I this song, calls on the people to be bold enough to criticize the government, because fear of the man with the gun would not put an end to the sufferings of the masses, who eventually pay for government mismanagement. He points to the foreign exchange scandal that prompted the military regime to arrest highly placed Nigerians. Most of them were tried and sentenced to jail terms ranging from five to fifteen years. But with the change from military to civil rule, most of the jailed socialites were released by the new administrations – a preview organized by the departing military regime that Fela accuses. Turning to the election issue and how the military manipulated the country by eliminating young political movements like The Movement Of The People (MOP) calling for a change in the system. Fela points to the fact that the military handed power to the same elite politicians who prompted the army to seize power earlier. He concludes that it is an arrangement dating from the ex-colonial rulers, who put the military in place to do their dirty work, and calls the whole political maneuver Army Arrangement
Government Chicken Boy
Government chicken boy are what you could call ‘establishment boys’- believers of the establishment and the system. Fela compares them with the chicken, crowing at dawn like an alarm clock, waking people for the day’s job ahead. He sings: ‘…su! su! we dey chase chicken him dey run! Him go try to fly! Him go land with him mouth! Him mouth go dey drag for ground! Gerere! Gerere….!’. Government Chicken boy, like the chicken, could be chased away from the grain at will an recalled back to share the same grain again. Like tools of the system, they can be dispensed with at will. Fela says if you ask him where to find ‘government chicken boy’ – the answer is in government ministries and establishments, civil servants, police, army, commissioner, minister, and the president. The news media he also calls ‘government chicken boys’ because of the way they depend on Western sources of information. He also criticizes their organization structures and ethic – which he regards as not just a carbon copy of Western news media, but a poor imitation of them. Finally, Fela says that among these ‘government chicken boys’, you find some good people and bad people. For the good people, it is a big fight ‘na wahala’ for them to stay up-right and give good advice, but for the bad people have a disease called ‘shaky-shaky’. They are always trying to please the master even if they know he is doing the wrong thing – like chicken, they shake and say yes to everything.
Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
Oct 27, 2011
Vis-a-Vis band is composed by the finest ghanaian musicians: Isaac Yeboha, the lead-singer, bassist Slim Yaw, Kunh Fu Kwaku drummer and Sam Crooper guitarist.
Amazing Oro God
The hard touring West African stalwarts Vis-A-Vis helped propel K. Frimpong to fame as one of Ghana's most popular stars of the 1970s. On Frimpong's records they were usually known as the Cubano Fiestas, but Vis-A-Vis recorded a number of albums under their own name. Led by vocalist Isaac "Superstar" Yeboah and featuring top players like Sammy Cropper on guitar, Slim Manu on bass and Gybson "Shaolin Kung-Fu" Papra on drums, Vis-A-Vis were both a popular live act and in-demand studio musicians, becoming the de facto house band at Ghanaian independent label Ofo Brothers Records.
Secret Stash Records
01. Odo gu ahoroo (medley)
- Maye pentoa
- Osu a ono nkoaa
02. Sunsum me gu mu
03. Odo fever
04. Abofra ketewa
05. Ebeto dabi
Another great album found on the Global Groove blog.
Oct 26, 2011
Lost in the shadows of third rate night clubs and dancing restaurants on the Apapa axis, Eric "Show Boy" Akaeze struggled to re-enact the hit songs that fetched him relative fame in the highly competitive and crowded Nigerian Highlife music scene of the 70s before he took ill and died in Lagos this month.
When I visited him last month at his Ijeshatedo, Lagos residence, he was down, but not out. Though emaciated and weak, he exhibited those stubborn traits of an artiste whose robust sense of living would not inspire to sing his swan song yet. He spoke with great effort but expressed hope that the debilitating illness would not kill him. Above all, he had turned to God for deliverance. Heroic even in illness, he had returned to the stage after his initial discharge from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), believing that he had triumphed over the illness. Maxwell Hotel, his favourite haunt on Olodi-Apapa where he played every Sunday, welcomed him back. His fans, many of whom were too young when in the 70s he composed such hit singles as Salute Mama, Salute Papa, We Dey Find Money, Ije Nwane Me Nwanne , Adanma, Akalaka and Ayolo, were glad to have him entertain them again. But he was already retreating, and suggested as much when he fainted on stage during a session. He could no longer withstand the rigours of stage performance. He had cut off his appearances at Taged Bar and Restaurant on Kofo Abayomi Street, Apapa, but he had managed to rehearse occasionally at Olatuga Jolly Hotel. And as he had revealed, he had even recorded some songs, most of them with Christian lyrics. He was working on a duet with his younger brother, George Akaeze who he described as a saxophonist.
Read the full article at allafrica.com
01. Umu Ani Oma
02. Ebe Oji Si Tentite
03. Akpulu Nwa Obi
Labels: Eric Show Boy Akaeze
Oct 25, 2011
I remember walking around the city of Amsterdam as a 13 year old boy. There were flyers hanging all over town advertising the concert in Paradiso of a musician I had never heard of before. For some reason the image of the muscular torso, the saxophone and the look in his eyes stayed with me. I later read a review in the newspaper of the concert that the flyers advertised and several months later the album "Live in Amsterdam" was in my possession. Now, nearly 25 years later, I own the remastered version of the concert and it's still one of my favourite Fela Kuti albums.
"Movement of the People Political Statement Number One" is one of Fela's longest and most interesting compositions. The original LP version had to be cut in half, as it didn't fit on one side! After Tony Allen left his band, Fela's music became more keyboard oriented. This song starts out with a militaristic rhythm from Fela's organ. In due time, bass, drums, guitar, horns and finally vocals are added. Though very long the song contains fabulous saxophone solo's form Fela and his son Femi (who was still playing with his father's band) swirling in, out and between the replies of the horns section. The subject of the song is Africa's colonial history and the traditional African `call and answer' with Fela's wives, who acted as back-up singers, gives the song the power of an anthem. Fela incorporates his "underground spiritual game" in the form of a traditional African song into this composition. And it swings like hell!
"Gimme **** I give you ****" takes a trip towards the jazzy side of Afrobeat. Fela's rare use of the piano and comical satirical lyrics make in another highlight in the Egypt 80 collection.
"Custom Check Point", a song about the division of countries in Africa, is an unusual song for Fela. A very intense pace, danceable to the extreme and an oriental sounding keyboard solo towards the end of the song make it another unique gem.
My conclusion: This album is a must for any fan of Fela Kuti. A crystal clear remastering of his most comprehensive set of live songs. There's a little booklet with the CD with a sketch of Fela's life and explanations of the songs. It might take some time to get used to if you're new to Afrobeat's long compositions. If you enjoy this album I would also recommend Army Arrangement and Teacher don't Teach me Nonsense.
Recorded by British dub specialist Dennis Bovell at Amsterdam's Paradiso on 28 November, 1983, Live In Amsterdam has also been available as Musik Is The Weapon. It was first released as a double LP: the first track alone, "M.O.P. Movement Of The People (Political Statement Number 1)," its title taken from the name of Kuti's political party, clocks in at over 37 minutes. The three tracks deal with the debilitating legacy of colonialism, and the post-colonial mindsets of governing elites, in Nigeria and throughout Africa,
The Egypt 80 lineup is rocking and powerful, tightly arranged and includes some fine soloists. The horn section, expanded to seven players, is anchored by two baritone saxophonists (Kola Oni joined Lekan Animashaun, who'd been with Kuti since 1965) and also includes Kuti's son, Femi, on alto. Fela himself is heard on soprano, the instrument he'd been obliged to take up in place of the heavier tenor following the beating referenced on Original Sufferhead. There are also two keyboard players: Kuti, mostly heard on organ, is accompanied by rhythm pianist Dele Sosimi. Drummer Ola Ijagun (mistakenly identified as a conga player on some previous editions of the album) is a more than competent replacement for Afrika 70's Tony Allen, who was with Kuti from 1964-79, from whose trademark rhythms he rarely strays.
Live In Amsterdam was mixed by Kuti and Bovell in London. The sound is excellent and Bovell's presence assured plenty of bottom.
Read the full article at allaboutjazz.
"Live in Amsterdam" is one of Fela's best albums with Egypt 80. Unlike most titles in the MCA reissue series, this one is not two albums on one CD, but is instead three songs and nearly 80 minutes of music from a November 28, 1983 concert in Amsterdam. While some of Fela's material with Egypt 80 can be too keyboard driven for my tastes, here the band grooves like classic Afrika 70 -- multi-layered percussion, funky rhythms and intricate horn play. This is not only one of Fela's best live albums (I prefer it easily to "VIP" -- see my review), but I would rank it along with "Original Sufferhead" and "Beasts of No Nation" as his best efforts from the 1980s. Of course, all of the Fela reissues are really indispensable, and you should get them while you can.
Michael B. Richman
Live In Amsterdam (1984)
M.O.P(Movement Of The People) Political Statement Number 1
Despite the diabolic manner in which the military regime, in their transition to civil rule programme, eliminated young political movements from contesting the 1979 general elections in Nigeria, Fela continued the struggle in the name of his unregistered party—the Movement Of The People (MOP). He made political statements critical of the military and their civilian successors. Movement Of The People Political Statement 1 is one such stated opinion. In his habitual sarcastic manner, Fela starts the song saying: “Before they turn us into monkey with tail Let us hear some important things! That our governments is hiding from us—we will expose them” Delving into some history, he says: “..we have to talk about long time ago”, referring to the history of Eko (Lagos), before the arrival of the British colonial administration. How the British used their ‘divide and rule’ tactics to gain a foot-hold in the coastal regions, thus paving the way for their eventual colonization of the entire country. Thus came the so-called ‘trading’ companies: United Trading Company(UAC), John Holt Company, etc., whose sole interest were to exploit the African people and their natural resources. To ensure their absolute control, the British like all other colonialist, started to recruit some of the natives into their forces. Thus began the military and police institutions, who were trained to brutalize and suppress all forms of decent and oppositions. Unlike the United States, where the military institution provides poor families the possibility of an education, those who took up military careers in colonial times England were mostly ‘never do wells’, students whose school grades were below the average mark. These are the quality of me that made up the colonial forces. Fela reminds his listener that before the arrival of colonial administration, there were no police and army institutions in the African society. Whenever there was war, all the able bodied men and sometimes women volunteered to defend the nation while the wars lasts. As soon as the war is over, the warring men and women, went back to their respective jobs. This is unlike the institutions created by the colonial administration – with soldiers and police gallivanting around, doing the dirty works of their employers. The colonial administration started the police college and army schools to brainwash their new recruits, condemning the authentic traditions of the people, as savage and encouraging them to look up to the culture of the colonizers as superior. Fela says we should ask ourselves what is government? For him, government and the governed should have a father-son relationship, with mutual love and concern for the welfare of both parties, as their main focus. However, in Africa, there is no father-son relationship between the government and the governed. Instead what we have, are men who like to lord it over the masses. Hence, when such government officials appear in public places, they are surrounded by their police and army. For Fela, this is an alienation. In conclusion, he says if those in government think first of the welfare of their c citizens, they won’t need all that security to move around among their own people.
You Give Me Shit I Give You Shit
In this song Fela is addressing Africans and the Diaspora to stop playing ‘the second fiddle in life’. Using a discussion between him and a European businessman to make his point he says: ‘hear the discussion between European and myself..!’ saying the European is attempting to show how important and well connected his is in Africa, and talks of having so many companies with a lot of black people working for him. How this European claims to be a friend of all African heads of state, how he was at a dinner last night with the president of Nigeria. To make the European tell more, Fela says he offered the man the last ‘joint’ marijuana in his pocket, which further let-loose the European’s tongue. After his long narrative, Fela decides to ask if in Europe and America, any black man could have the same opportunity as he does in Africa: ‘If black people own companies in Europe like he does in Africa? If black people can easily be invited to dinner with any European leader—just like that? He points to ‘negritude’ and colonial mentality as the cause of African inferiority complex. For Fela, there is a problem of leadership in Africa as Africans don’t like to do things for their own folks. He says he feels vexed that Africans in the twentieth century are still slaves of the system. For him it is time to stand firm: ‘anybody that gives us shit will get shit’.
Custom Check Point
In 1884-1885, colonial powers met in Berlin to divide and share Africa among themselves. With this Balkanization, artificial borders were created to separate African people. With independence, most of the nations still respect and adhere to the frontiers created from colonial times. Custom Check Point is Fela’s criticism of the system that still respects these artificial boundaries separating African people. Tracing the cultural, linguistic and traditional unity of Africa people to an origin of one motherhood. Fela describes the men of customs and excise as human who have been put in place to do the dirty works of those who want to keep Africans apart. He advises them to pack-up and allow our people to travel freely among sister nations. Cut down the barriers! Custom she kia kia kia! He asks them to hurry-up and get out of the way.
Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
Oct 22, 2011
Information on Smahila and the S.B.’s is D.B. Cooper-scarce. Save for a few entries on Discogs.com, and a paragraph or two gleaned elsewhere, my knowledge about the group is essentially limited to: they’re a Nigerian afro-beat band with a Fela Kuti fixation, who released the sublime African Movement/Natural Points in 1977, on British imprint, RAS (Rogers All Stars (Nigeria) Ltd.).
Few groups managed to appropriate Fela with such funk or fidelity–this might be the best 18-minutes of movement ever.
01. African Movement 18:50
02. Natural Points 17:59
Oct 21, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Tomás Pavez, a member of the Chilean Afrobeat ensemble "Newen Afrobeat" who interestingly mentioned his interest in Afrobeat in general and especially in South America. Moreover, gave me some information about his own Afrobeat band.
"Newen" is a mapudungun - the Mapuche language is a language isolate spoken in south-central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche people - word from the Mapuches that means "Strength", the Mapuches are the originary tribe before this land was colonized into a country by Spain.
To introduce you to his band, here are a couple of songs to listen:
For further information and to get in contact, check out their facebook profile here.
Labels: Newen Afrobeat
Oct 20, 2011
There is no doubt though that De Frank was the one who marked the era, and above all, created a new trend. Born De Frank Kakrah in 1953 in Lomé, a border town between Togo and Ghana, he started out in music as a percussionist, but later moved on to drums and eventually became a singer. Difficulties in keeping a consistent line-up together meant that De Frank passed from one group to another until in 1976 he formed The Professionals. At that time all the kids in Ghana were influenced by Fela Kuti, Wilson Pickett, Willie Bobo and the musicians who had played at the memorable Soul to Soul. De Frank followed suit, but added more of a disco style to his sound and his attire, which, with his kung fu shoes and number-52 flares, turned him into a west-African version of Simon El Africano. Endorsed by the DJs of Accra, who saw him as just right for the time, he had several hits, especially his album Psychedelic Man.
01. Afe Ato Yen Bio
02. Yare Ye Ya
03. Sometimes We Love
04. We Can Take Time
05. Onipa Be Yee Bi
Labels: De Frank Professionals
Oct 18, 2011
Aktion (sometimes known amongst fans as "The Actions") was an Eastern band based in Warri. Lemmy Faith was the group's leader and other members included Renny Pearl, Essien Akpabio and respected drummer Ben Alaka (who, curiously, is credited as a "guest" on this album).
An earlier incarnation of the band--under the name Action 13--released two singles in 1973: "Active Action" and "More Bread To The People".
Like you mentioned, Aktion, Action and Aktion 13 as known in some cases was a Warri-based band that played gigs all around the Eastside. Originally, the band was initiated in Calabar by the duo of Essien Akpabio and Lemmy Faith.
The band was resident at then famous spot in Warri called Lido Night Club and Restaurant where they entertained civil servants and off duty officers during happy hours known as "Afternoon Jump." During the festivities (Christmas and New Year holidays), the group embarked on a road trip playing gigs at college campuses, community centers and local villages to entertain Eastside students who were home for the holidays.
And of course, Ben Alaka who was the best drummer of that era was an in-session man but played more for Aktion when they were resident at Lido for the "Afternoon Jump" jam sessions. The band's early years between 1976 and 1978 was a blast which catapulted the group to the top during the 70s hippie era.
However, the band's success was shortlived when music of the era crossed over and the inability of band leader Lemmy Faith to compete with bands from the West resulting to music fans relocating to the West in search for better lives, and in some cases, academic pursuits elsewhere.
Ben Alaka still lives in Warri while Essien Akpabio relocated to his home base of Calabar. Lemmy Faith, I think, and as of the last time I heard about him was still producing.
Information found on the amazing blog combandrazor.blogspot.com ... thanx!!
1. Groove the Funk
2. Sugar Daddy
3. I Don't Have to Cry
4. My Baby
1. I've Got To Hope For Tomorrow
3. I'm in Love
4. Tell Me Baby
5. Play With Me
The album was published as part of the world wide record day 2010 as part of the collection of record diggers publishing rare and obscure music at the forum of amazing record label soulstrut!!!
The Wings were the preeminent band in early 70s southeastern Nigeria, a devastated and demoralized region whose short stint as the sovereign Republic of Biafra had recently been brought to an abrupt halt by the events of the Nigerian civil war (which we will not get into here). Out of this bleak climate a plethora of rock bands emerged, mostly for the purpose of entertaining the occupying federal Nigerian troops, who were just about the only people who had money to spend on recreation.
The Wings, however, had a much farther-reaching appeal, thanks largely to the enormous charisma of heartthrob frontman Spud Nathan (nee Jonathan Udensi), who led the group through such romantic hits as "Kissing You So Hard," "Gone With the Sun" and "Single Boy" and the song featured here, "If You Don't Love Me Girl."
The Wings story took a tragic turn in 1974 when Nathan - while riding to a gig in a car driven by guitarist Manford Best - was killed in an accident on the infamous Njaba Bridge in Imo State. (A decade later, another car crash on that same bridge would claim the life of ex-Funkees and Osibisa guitarist Jake Sollo.)
Nathan's death catapulted The Wings into a tailspin. Most of the band (and their fans) blamed Best for the accident since he had been behind the wheel. Also, he had allegedly had sex with a groupie in the brand new car before it had the chance to be properly "blessed," which was considered to be some bad, bad juju. To add insult to injury, while the rest of the band wanted to go on a yearlong hiatus to mourn Spud, Best insisted that The Wings resume activity immediately with him in the lead singer spot. Eventually, the band went on hiatus for two years while Best broke away and formed Super Wings to relatively little success, due to fan resentment over his role in Spud's death.
After two years of absence, the surviving Wings returned as Original Wings (a.k.a. Wings Original) with the smash hit Tribute to Spud Nathan album. (Inspired by this success, Super Wings immediately released their own Spud Nathan tribute album, and were greeted mostly with groans.) The Spud Nathan dedication featured here, however, is taken from the album Change This World.
Information found on the amazing blog combandrazor.blogspot.com ... thanx!!
01. Help Me Mama
02. Ballad Of A Late Hero
03. Your Obedient Child
04. Loving You
05. Live In Peace
06. Igba Alusi
07. Call You Back Again
08. Change This World
Labels: Original Wings
Oct 14, 2011
In 1970s Nigeria, only a tiny handful of female artists broke through the backing singer/dancer ceiling to become stars in their own right, particularly if they wrote their own material -- And Fela cousins The Lijadu sisters did just that. Their repertoire ranged from love songs and dance anthems to philosophy and political/social commentary. “The music business was hard for women in Nigeria,” says Taiwo Lijadu. “Back then, they didn’t think women had brains.”
Twins Taiwo and Kehinde were born in Jos, in northern Nigeria, on October 22, 1948. They enjoyed singing from an early age, encouraged by their mother, who bought them records by a wide range local and overseas of artists. Kehinde and Taiwo remember with special fondness discs by Aretha Franklin, Miriam Makeba, Ray Charles and, later, Fela Kuti (who, like the Nobel Prize winning writer and political activist Wole Soyinka, was their second cousin).
The Lijadu Sisters began working as session singers, but solid-gold talent and determination – and, no doubt, the twins’ extraordinary physical beauty - soon led to their first own-name release, “Iya Mi Jowo” (“mother please”), which came out on Nigerian Decca in 1968. The song was written by Taiwo in 1965 and the story behind it is included in the notes for the album Mother Africa, for which the sisters rerecorded it.
In 1971, the sisters met the British drummer Ginger Baker (Cream, Blind Faith, Airplane), who in the first half of the 1970s was a frequent visitor to Nigeria, where he recorded and performed with Kuti and his band, Africa 70. In 1972, the Lijadu Sisters performed with Baker’s band at the cultural festival accompanying the Munich Olympics in Germany. For a while, Taiwo and Baker were an item. Another fortuitous male encounter was with the multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright. Wright’s mother was a close friend of the sisters’ mother, through whom the three met. Sadly no longer with us, Wright co-arranged and played on all four of the classic 1970s Lijadu Sisters albums released on Decca’s Afrodisia imprint, which are now being re-released by Knitting Factory Records – Danger (1976), Mother Africa (1977), Sunshine (1978) and Horizon Unlimited (1979).
In 1988, they visited the US with Sunny Ade, and performed under their own name with Ade’s band, winning an enthusiastic review in The New York Times. By the end of the decade, things were looking good for the Lijadu Sisters in the US, and after the Ade concerts they stayed in the country while their green card applications went through.
Then disaster struck. Kehinde suffered dreadful spinal injuries in a fall in the hallway of the twins’ Brooklyn apartment building (they lived on the first floor). “The first doctor who saw me gave me six months to live,” says Kehinde. “Then they said I would never walk again. But I said to myself, ‘I will be strong, I will not give up, I owe it to my family.’” The accident threatened to finish the Lijadu Sisters’ career, and it kept them out of the public eye until 2011, when Knitting Factory’s reissue program began. While Kehinde was recovering, the twins withdrew completely from the limelight. Inevitably, rumors about their wellbeing and whereabouts abounded. Some people thought they had died, others that they had married rich Americans and retired into lives of luxurious obscurity. There were several other tales. Everyone missed them terribly. Kehinde eventually overcame her injuries, but it took many years, and she still suffers its effects. “I am walking, even dancing again now,” she says. “But I cannot sit down for more than two hours at a time, and I cannot fly any distance at all.” During Kehinde’s recovery, the sisters’ were sustained by their embrace of the traditional Yoruba belief system Ifa (which has a divination strand of arcane complexity and infinite nuance), and their study of the use of herbs in healing. “Our mother taught us that unless we had something to promote, it was best not to do interviews,” says Taiwo. “Save it for when you have something to talk about. And we have not spoken for a long time. But the Knitting Factory program means we have something to talk about once more. We are back, and we are going to perform again.” Adds Kehinde,“It is decades since we have performed publicly, but now we are ready - and the music will be of today! We thank our fans for remembering us, and we want them to know why we have been silent. We love them very much.”
In 2011, Kehinde and Taiwo, inseparable since birth, share an apartment in Harlem, NYC. It is wonderful to have them back.
The Lijadu Sisters’ Afrodisia debut, 1976’s Danger, is as funky and mellifluous as it gets, the twins’ gorgeous harmonies underpinned by a solid Afro-rock beat and framed by Wright’s funky organ and guitar work. Danger has a vibe of uplifting positivity which would be a feature of all four of the Lijadu Sisters’ Afrodisia albums.
Lyrically, most of the songs address social and political issues, sometimes directly, sometimes through metaphor and allusion. The uptempo opener, “Danger,” is on one level about a “dangerous lover.” But in the wider context of the times – with the police and army’s abuses of power running rampant and otherwise unchecked (Fela Kuti’s eviscerating Zombie was also released in 1976) – it captures life on the edge in contemporary Nigeria.
“Danger” has a bridge which is almost identical to the one used by Jamaican artists Althea & Donna on “Uptown Top Ranking” and Trinity on “Three Piece Suit.” Intriguingly, both these records were released a year after “Danger.” Kehinde and Taiwo put it down to something that was in the air at the time. That said, it remains a remarkable coincidence.
In Yoruba, “Amebo,” which follows, literally means “someone who gossips.” The twins here extend the word to mean they are watching the powers that be – “your office of power” and “the work you have done” – and will not be afraid to speak up about wrongdoing and incompetence.
They do just that on “Cashing In,” which addresses the complacency and corruption of the Nigerian ruling elite in general, and in particular the then-recent revelation that government ministers were flying prostitutes into the country at the tax payers’ expense. Such people are cashing in, sing Taiwo and Kehinde in the refrain, while “poverty’s a common sight.”
The slow and mournful “Lord Have Mercy,” which closes the album, returns, heartbreakingly, to the idea of poverty amidst national economic wealth. It tells the story of a boy the twins saw “dying on the street…children starving; mama’s dead, poppa’s gone; life is wasted; Lord, have mercy; Lord, hear me crying.” In fact, this particular child was taken in by a concerned passer by – but the lyric doesn’t reveal that, because Kehinde and Taiwo realised a happy ending would let listeners off the hook.
The remaining tracks, “Life’s Gone Down” and “Bobby,” are respectively an example of the Lijadu Sisters’ signature positivity (“it’s not too late, if we hurry; people get together, life’s gonna get good”), and a rock-steady infused love song.
Knitting Factory Records - home to all things Fela Kuti, natch - is set to re-release of four long out-of-print albums by Nigerian twins the Lijadu Sisters, Taiwo and Kehinde. The sisters, cousins of Fela, were a rarity in Nigeria. Not only were they female in an industry dominated by male artists but they wrote their own material, which was often political and always topical. Recorded at the famed Decca studios in Lagos, Nigeria, the hotbed of the Nigerian music scene at that time, the albums combine Afrobeat, Western and UK pop music and reggae, with the sisters singing in both English and Yoruba.
The releases are as follows:
Danger (1976) - November 8, 2011
Mother Africa (1977) - 1st quarter 2012
Sunshine (1978) - 2nd quarter 2012
Horizon Unlimited (1979) - 3rd quarter 2012
Long out of print and prized by collectors, these albums have never before been available on CD or digitally; they'll also be available on vinyl and all formats will include the original artwork. Remastered from recordings taken off the original vinyl LPs (the tapes have long been lost), these recordings sound as urgent and timely today as they did set against the turbulent scene of Nigeria in the '70s.
The series will kick off with Danger on November 8, 2011; the Lijadu Sisters' first release on the Afrodisia label. Danger is as funky and mellifluous as it gets, with the twins' gorgeous harmonies underpinned by a solid Afro-rock beat and framed by multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright's funky organ and guitar work. Danger has a vibe of uplifting positivity which would be a feature of all four of the Lijadu Sisters' Afrodisia albums.
Lyrically, most of the songs address social and political issues, sometimes directly, sometimes through metaphor and allusion. "Danger," the uptempo opener and title track, is on one level about a "dangerous lover." But in the wider context of the times - with the police and army's abuses of power running rampant and otherwise unchecked (Fela Kuti's eviscerating Zombie was also released in 1976) - it serves as a glimpse of life on the edge in Nigeria during those turbulent political years.
The reason the Lijadu Sisters aren't well known today, except by collectors, is that Kehinde, while the duo was touring North America with King Sunny Ade in 1980, suffered a severe spinal injury that has kept them out of the public eye until now. They're living in NYC and have been very hands on with the project, working with Knitting Factory Records to make these albums available again. The sisters are also planning select shows timed around these releases; stay tuned for updates.
The Lijadu Sisters were featured in Konkombé, British director Jeremy Marre's 1979 film on the Nigerian pop scene and were a hit in the '80s on the UK television show, The Tube. Check out this clip of The Lijadu Sisters at Decca Studio in Lagos in the '70s:
03. Life’s Gone Down Low
04. Cashing In
06. Lord Have Mercy
Labels: The Lijadu Sisters
Oct 13, 2011
Fela Kuti used to call his afrobeat “african classical music”. The earthy funky black sound of the african political rebel is now also heard in the voice of european classical instruments. As in a mirror, the black and the white fuse opposites and shine anew. Shrine on you, Fela!
"Shrine on you" is a beloved hommage to Fela Kuti, the greatest african musical genius and political rebel of recent history, played by a chamber orchestra, formed by 11 classical and jazz musicians. Afrobeat, the politically revolutionary music Fela created, from the late '60's, blending western-african polyrhythms and chants with american funk and jazz, is alligning now to european classical music. Baroque resonances and the original arrangments by the Orchestra don't miss out the powerful and hypnotic boost of percussions and a good taste of improvisation, thanks to some extraordinary soloists. As in a round-trip travel, the syncretic cultures exchange gain a sense of redemption and joyful ceremony. While Afrobeat fever spreads worldwide, also through the Broadway musical FELA!, the countless happenings all over the continents and the many efforts to restore the pioneristic work of the nigerian genius, italian answer to the call couldn't be other than the Classica Orchestra Afrobeat.
Classica Orchestra Afrobeat
1. No Agreement
2. Mr. Follow Follow (feat. Kologbo)
4. Go Slow
5. Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am
6. Zombie (feat. Seun Kuti)
7. Tocata Per B Quadro
8. Observation Is No Crime
9. Water No Get Enemy
No Agreement by classicafrobeat
Labels: Classica Orchestra Afrobeat
Oct 12, 2011
By the mid 1970s, the Southern African nation known as the Republic of Zambia had fallen on hard times. The new Federation found itself under party rule. Zambia’s then-president engaged what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in a political fencing match that damaged his country’s ability to trade with its main partner. The Portuguese colonies of Angola to the West and Mozambique to the East were fighting their own battles for independence; conflict loomed on all sides of this landlocked nation.
This is the environment in which the catchy – if misleadingly – titled “Zam Rock” scene that flourished in 1970s Zambian cities such as Lusaka and Chingola emerged. Though full of beacons of hope for its numerous musical hopeful it was a tumultuous time and it’s no wonder that the Zambian musicians taken by European and English influences gravitated to the hard, dark side of the rock and funk spectrum. From the little of the Zambian 70s rock and funk music that has been spread via small blogs and bootlegs – the likes of Chrissy Zebby, Paul Ngozi and the Ngozi Family, and the devastating Peace – we learn that fuzz guitars were commonplace, driving rhythms as influenced by James Brown’s funk as Jimi Hendrix’s rock predominated, and the bands largely sang in the country’s national language, English.
The European and North American compilers that had, say, fallen in love with the wonders of Nigeria’s 70s scene via an introduction by Afro-Beat maestro Fela Kuti and decided to journey to Lagos to investigate further never even bothered to visit Zambia. Perhaps this is because even the largest of the 70s Zambian recording artists made any impact on the global scale. (Prior to reading this, had you heard of Paul Ngozi or his innovative Kalindua, Zambia’s equivalent of Afro-Beat?) Before 2000 – and infrequently since then – few Europeans or North Americans outside of university-funded ethnomusicologists more interested in the country’s folk musics than its pop culture even journeyed to this country in search of a the progenitors of the Zam Rock scene. And, when they did, the markers were few. Only a small number of the original Zam Rock godfathers that remained in the country survived through the late 90s, when the music recorded in Zambia became the next frontier for those global-psychedelic rock junkies searching for the next fix.
Now-Again, in conjunction with Zam Rock pioneer Rikki Ililonga, has licensed the WITCH repertoire from the ensemble’s last surviving member, Emmanuel Jagari Canda, and the Amanaz Africa album from the band’s Keith Kabwe and Issac Mpofu. Vinyl issues of WITCH’s Introduction and Lazy Bones and Amanaz’s Africa are out on Shadoks; CD issues licensed from Now-Again are planned for early 2010. In early 2010, Now-Again will present a Rikki Ililonga anthology. Plans are in the works for a proper WITCH anthology and a Zam Rock compilation.
Now Again Records
Lazy Bones!! is the recently reissued third album by the Zambian psych-funk quintet WITCH (“We Intend To Cause Havoc”), and it may be best described as marginal, in dual senses of the word. At times, the record just passes the threshold of technical competence. But to call Lazy Bones!! marginal is not to denigrate it. It’s not lack of quality so much as the collection’s position on the periphery of several styles — and of a 70s “Zam-rock” scene that itself occupies a small corner of the niche African record collectors’ market — that ultimately makes “marginal” such a tidy, if reductionist, summation.
WITCH’s sound bears strong influences of both funk and Anglophilic psychedelic rock, but it doesn’t sit comfortably in either style. Seldom do WITCH’s songs — often grooves, really — approximate the sunshine pop- or blues-appropriation of the Sonics or early Beefheart. Instead, they occupy some wah-wah nether-region between Jimi Hendrix’s rock stomps and the J.B.’s’ syncopated loops. Yet with a combination of fuzz guitar, Emmanuel Jagari Chanda’s often stilted, English-language vocals, and thin-sounding, lo-fi guitar and drums, WITCH often achieve an aural effect that does hearken to Nuggets-style psych-tinged garage rock.
Somewhat ironically, given the likely source material for the reissue and technical constraints of recording in 1970s Zambia (where any such capacity was a luxury), much that’s appealing about WITCH is actually surface level — primarily, Chris Mbewe’s searing leads and the gritty marriage of fuzz with off-kilter bass and drums. WITCH are at their best on such tracks as “Strange Dream” — with its wah-wah backdrop and slinky, crisp acoustic guitar-driven groove — and the rhythmically agile “Black Tears,” which begins as eerie, plodding psych-folk but quickly kick-starts into a blistering assault of knees-on-stage guitar soloing. It’s when the group veers closer to pop and straight-ahead funk material — as on “Look Out,” “Off Ma Boots” and the title track — that deeper, nagging deficiencies emerge. The melodies are forgettable if not slightly grating, and they get little help from lead singer Chanda, whose nasal delivery doesn’t have enough gravel or swagger to match his band (when it isn’t overwhelming him) but does have occasional problems with pitch.
It’s hard to argue with crate-digger DJ and reissues extraordinaire Egon — who helped coordinate the CD release of Lazy Bones!! and wrote its new liner notes — when he says these are good times for new old African funk releases. Still, few recordings from Zambia’s first full decade of independence from British colonial rule have managed to surface among western collectors (or on their obscurantist music blogs). Fortunately, there are now at least enough such time capsules to give Lazy Bones!! a whiff of context. Those looking for something like Afro-beat in Zambia should look to Paul Ngozi, and a more compelling introduction to Zam-rock can be found in the bass-heavy trances of Amanaz or the blissed-out, almost southern-American roots rock of the Peace.
dustedmagazine.com, written by Benjamin Ewing
When I first saw that Witch had a new album out, I was pretty stoked. Witch is the stoner metal off-shoot of Dinosaur Jr., and I’m a sucker for both stoner metal and Dinosaur Jr. What I discovered is that Witch is ALSO a Zambian rock quintet from the ‘70s. So, instead of the outsized retro-riffing of J Mascis’s band, I got something that sounded truly retro: bare-bones psych-rock with a slight Afrikaans inflection, mastered so flatly that you’ll be fiddling with the volume seconds into the first track.
It was a nice surprise, to say the least. Lazy Bones!! is the sound of five talented Africans playing their own Woodstock in someone’s cramped basement. Whereas Witch’s Western counterparts paid professional to smooth over their rough spots, though, it’s exactly these rough spots that make Witch special (their name is, according to the press notes, an acronym of “We Intend to Cause Havoc”). The mic often blows out, as if the limited recording equipment could barely contain the performance. It lends even funk cracklers like “Look Out” some proto-punk urgency while enhancing the making the melancholic “Black Tears” resonate like a warfront diary entry. This scruffiness notwithstanding, though, Lazy Bones!! is still perhaps too subdued and reverent to stand outside of time. But it’s hardly a mere curiosity either, and as a fun wah-wah-and-fuzz-guitar trip, it’s solid gold.
popmatters.com, written by Benjamin Aspray
WITCH were a Zam Rock band active in the mid-Seventies, when the troubled Republic of Zambia saw a thriving rock scene that included Musi-O-Tunya, Amanaz, and Peace. Their records were originally released on a small label, and had been out of print and incredibly rare for decades. In 2007, Stones Throw general manager and Now Again Records owner Egon came across a Myspace page by Zam Rock pioneer Rikki Ililonga. Egon and Ililonga began corresponding, which led to Ililonga getting Egon in touch with WITCH vocalist Emmanuel Jaguri Chanda. Chanda was more than happy to see his records in print again, and the result was a reissue of WITCH's "Introduction" and "Lazy Bones!!"
"Lazy Bones!!" doesn't get off to a promising start. The sound quality isn't great. The record seems to be mastered from a scratchy vinyl copy, and the sound is muddy and full of imperfections. Lead track "Black Tears" is a clumsy, lumbering song. It begins with a turgid opening, and when the band starts to cook at the minute-thirty mark it just serves to highlight Chanda's amateurish vocals. At their worst, like on "Black Tears," WITCH sound like a high school garage band playing a facsimile of rock music with more enthusiasm than talent. After listening to "Black Tears" I was almost ready to write WITCH off.
I kept with the album, though, and happily discovered that "Black Tears" is a misleading false start, the weakest track on the album. Things immediately pick up on "Motherless Child." The band coalesces into a strong groove. Drummer Boidi Sinkala hammers his set like Black Sabbath's Bill Ward or Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. Bassist Gedeon Mulenga completes the rock solid rhythm section, while guitarist John Muma lays on the fuzz guitar and wawa, complimented by Chris Mbewe's lead. All the musicians are excellent, and provide some wicked if occasionally sloppy grooves. Even Chanda's thin voice sounds better on the rest of the album, his earnestness compensating for his lack of polish.
Musically, WITCH combine the heaviness of Black Sabbath and Cream with the playful psychedelic elements of early Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, or the Creation. "Motherless Child" and "Off Ma Boots" sound like Southern rock, while "Tooth Factory" and "Havoc" are heavy acid rock. "Little Clown" and "Lazy Bones" could have been recorded by a San Francisco band in 1967.
While the horns, polyrythms, and indigenous instruments typical of African music aren't present, WITCH do add a slight African twist to Western rock. It's subtle, but like Chanda's South African accent, definitely present. This is especially true with the lyrics. On the surface, they tackle standard sixties material like psychedelic trips ("Strange Dream," "Off Ma Boots"), or calls for peace and understanding ("Havoc"). However, its all informed by their experience living in the Republic of Zambia during an uncertain time. The turmoil they were describing were very close and real for the members of WITCH. As a result, "Lazy Bones!!" feels realer and rawer than most of the Western rock from the same era.
Despite the dodgy recording, muddy sound, and Chanda's iffy singing voice, "Lazy Bones!!" is an incredible album. It's trippy, it's rocking, and it has moments of fierceness matched with moments of beauty. There are hooks galore, and the lyrics go a shade deeper than most acid rock I've come across. "Lazy Bones!!" is highly recommended for anyone who wants to explore a side of African music not often heard, or who just wants to rock out. This album is an uncovered gem, and a ray of warm sunshine during this cold winter.
1. Black Tears
2. Motherless Child
3. Tooth Factory
4. Strange Dream
5. Look Out
7. October Night
8. Off Ma Boots
9. Lazy Bones
10. Little Clown
Labels: The Witch
Oct 11, 2011
Pidgin band is an nine-membered wall of sound hailing from the thriving music scene on norman ok. Showcasing literacy in genres such as afrobeat, fuzz funk, and psychedelia. They collage these influences along with others into their very own sonic pidgin language. Coming out of the norman festival and an ep release with a head full of steam, the year old band's rowers show no signs of slowing and only they know where they are going.
Pidgin is defined as a mixing of two languages. In Hawaii they have a mixed language that they speak, as well as in New Orleans (creole). Nigeria uses a form of english that is known as "Pidgin English" or "Broken English". When the group first started playing together, the variety of styles was immediately present. Try as they might to stick to traditional afrobeat styles, they soon 'let go of the reigns' and let Pidgin Band explore the unknown. So with this mixture of styles rooted in afrobeat, Pidgin Band was able to hit the streets.
After a plethora of shows, a small tour, and a live video shoot, the band has settled into a unique sounding group with its roots in afrobeat but carrying on much further. You can expect madness at a Pidgin Band show, a rhythm section that chugs like a speeding locomotive, and a guitar section that is able to switch from cog in the machine to psychedelic bliss in a heartbeat. Horns that rip through, and a low end that will shake your precious whiskey & coke.
Pidgin Band @ Soundcloud:
Orange Line After 9 by Pidgin Band
Doja by Pidgin Band
Pidgin Band @ mySpace
Pidgin Band @ Facebook
Pidgin Band Homepage
1. Company Man
2. St. Pterodacyl
4. Orange Line After 9
5. The Ballad of Gus
6. The Itis
7. The Ugly
The disc is available at cdbaby.com!
Labels: Pidgin Band
Oct 10, 2011
Unfortunately, I cannot find any information of this album. If anyone has any information or knowledge where to buy this album, pls contact me.
The song "Soul Generation" was published on the amazing the vinyl version of "The World Ends:Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria".
02. Sweet Rose
03. Agbon Nakore
04. Amede Oyakhe
05. Maen Gbe Maen Mun
The song "Soul Generation" was published on the amazing the vinyl version of "The World Ends:Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria".
02. Sweet Rose
03. Agbon Nakore
04. Amede Oyakhe
05. Maen Gbe Maen Mun
Labels: Big John Oaikhena
Oct 7, 2011
Renova-Band (or Renova Band, depending on the release) were part of the 60s scene in Dahomey, a country that became independent in 1960 and changed its name to Benin in 1975. Together with Super Star de Ouidah and Orchestre Picoby-Band among others, Renova-Band formed the first generation of modern music bands in Dahomey, mixing new genres like rumba, cha-cha-cha, salsa and jerk with traditional/local elements.
One of the peculiarities of the band was their female vocalist. Born in 1938, Sophie Aguidigbadja, better known as Edia Sophie, decided she would be a singer around 1965 after hearing a song by Renova-Band. She liked the song so much that she got in touch with one of their members, Nestor Hountondji. After some discussions between the musicians, Sophie joined the band and became the first modern female singer in the area, entering a world which till then was pretty much closed to female artists.
As Fortuné Sossa recently put it in La Nouvelle Tribune:
The beginnings of Edia Sophie in music goes back [sic] in 1965. She was barely 25 years old and living in Abomey. Marked by a piece of the orchestra Renova Band, performed by Nestor Hountondji, she decided to sing. She approaches him and confided in him. Most group members feel that accepting a woman in their midst, the orchestra may shatter. For memory of Dahomey (now Benin), the woman has never deigned to modern music. It is a job reserved exclusively for men. Therefore impossible to accept that a woman will cause trouble in the natural order established. But she does not lose courage. She is determined, committed as driven by a supernatural force. Two things were arming its determination. She knew she was capable of exercising the profession. She was already married with families.
With Dansi Zindjo, percussionist Renova Band, Sophie Aguidigbadja met the head of the orchestra, William Basil Cakpo. Although surprised, it repeatedly asks him the question: "Do you really sing?" The "Yes" the woman does not suffer the slightest stutter or mess. The genius of the art has bewitched his whole body. It now runs in its empty like the sap in the tree. Then the head of the Renova Band is testing. No comment! The result is obvious. Sophie Aguidigbadja can sing!
"We're going to criticize you too," warns William Basil still Cakpo by signing the official entry of the Renova Sophie Aguidigbadja Band. And the critics are not made to wait. It was indeed a curiosity. She seemed dishonorable in the eyes of public opinion. But at the same time his talent became reassuring. Far from a disgrace, it immediately brought a revolution to a system daunting.
Renova Band was featured post at OROGOD but the singer Edia Sophie had not been mentioned. Sophie Aguidigbadja aka Edia Sophie is the oldest modern Beninese woman singer but also the first with a modern orchestra. She decides to sing in 1965, after hearing a song sung by Nestor Hountondji with Renova Band. She met him and expressed her desire to sing. At the time, it was frowned upon for women to sing in a modern orchestra. With Dansi Zindjo, Renova's percussionist, sophie met the leader, William Basile Cakpo who intergrayes her just after hearing her distinctive voice. Sophie Edia brought a revolution in music system quite daunting because it was difficult to tell the difference between bands like Super Stars de Ouidah, Sunny Black Band or others playing all the same afro-cuban musical style. Sophie later founded her own band, Caméléon Sonore, and recorded famous "Gahounga".
Thanx for the information!!!
Afrobeat and to support its directory, feed it to hip hop, funk, jazz and Ethiopian music: this is the project around which met in 2009 twelve musicians from different backgrounds to form the Bim Bam Orchestra.
The Bim Bam Orchestra released their first album: "Night tiny" and presents a selection of seven titles, including five original compositions.
Recorded live on analog equipment, with vintage microphones and instruments, this album shows a trip to the sources of his Afrobeat. But if the twelve Bim Bam Orchestra musicians have forged their style in the heart of the repertoire of Fela Kuti, the father of the genre, they do not offer at least a replay enriched by the diversity of their influences: a decidedly African groove, mixed in funk, hip hop and Latin motifs, themes with strong Caribbean accents or Ethiopian.
The five compositions of "Night tiny" are like the Bim Bam Orchestra: eclectic, colorful, cut to the scene, full of energy, inspiration and leaving a nice room for improvisation.
Over the tracks, the voices follow each other, the instruments change hands. Both titles are taken from Fela Kuti the opportunity to discover the ones invited to the group. This first album is offered as an invitation to travel, sharing, and an irresistible call to dance, to trance.
Bim Bam Orchestra
Unfortunately, no tracklist can be found of this album, not quite sure if the album is already publised ... just await some news myself!
Labels: Bim Bam Orchestra
Oct 6, 2011
Originally from Maputo (Mozambique), Simonal Bie arrived in Barcelona after living in Portugal, where he taught different aspects of African music. He has now decided to embark upon a new musical adventure by the name of Moya Kalongo, accompanied by experienced musicians from Barcelona to put the finishing touches to his inspiration: Nigerian afrobeat.
Check out at Moya Kalongo Afrobeat
2. Mbe Ya Vutomi
3. Rising The Groove
5. Mayen Kaya
6. No War
The album can be bought at their bandcamp site!
Labels: Moya Kalongo Afrobeat
Oct 5, 2011
Joseph Osayomore comes from the Edo State, a region in Nigeria between the Yoruba land and the Niger delta which we have already encountered thanks to Paul Ede and Victor Uwaifo, where during the past centuries the glorious Benin Empire developed. He was born at the end of the forties in a village not far from Benin City. When he was very young he decided to follow an artistic path which led him, during the seventies, to become one of the biggest stars of his land.
Joseph Osayomore is someone who fed the ethnic proudness of the Bini and those people can be proud of this. But outside Nigeria nobody knows much about him, this is also to be considered the normal condition for the majority of the African art and culture. Osayomore appears to be one of those who has all the characteristics to stimulate curiosity within a more vast public.
Strongly tied to his own tradition and also proud of this, Joseph Osayomore has always avoided following ethnical and cultural ideals; those of the European colonizers, as opposed to many Nigerian musicians, he never showed any interest in the Christian religion nor Muslim religion. Osayomore is a follower of the Benin pantheon spirits, a true "animist" and also the name of his group - the Ulele Power Sound - refers to his religious convictions. In the tradition of his village, the Ulele power comes from the spirits of who serves them and respects them.
Thanks to his courage to speak openly against injustice and the false Nigerian democracy, Joseph Osayomore is considered a sort of successor of Fela Kuti. Unfortunately the message risks being confined in the area of his own ethnic group due to the Edo language utilized by him in his songs. It is a fact that he was brought to court and imprisoned more than once - also during the Obasnjo government, historical enemy of Fela - because of the iconoclasm of his lyrics and for to conceited critics to the local and national authorities, starting from the proud and the respect for his ancestors culture. It is perhaps due to this that the musical scene is inundated with the various chief, commander, prince and king that Joseph Osayomore chose the title of ambassador.
The icon of the cheeky and irreverent musician who uses his own art as a scene and pretext to laugh about and to criticize the authorities - to say the truth without any fear, says the tradition - is not alien to the cultural Yoruba and Bini context within which both Fela and Osayomore move.
"Osayomore Joseph is the best thing ever released from the Bini land. Thanks to him I am sure we will gain freedom". "OJ always tells the truth. Amongst the over 60 records released one of his most famous songs is Army of Freedom. Another one is Efewedo, richness I say goodbye to you, a song against envy for wealth and for respect earned honestly. In Efewedo and in many songs Osayomre thanks his mother, an important woman who always supported him in public also in front of the authorities' persecutions or in front of the mean gossips about his immorality - mostly sexual - which accompanied him for years. Also this is a trace that associates him to Fela.
Musically speaking Osayomore is certainly less eclectic than Victor Uwaifo also if the course of his long carrier has gone through with much originality, some of the most popular musical genres in the country, amongst which highlife and afro beat. The main characteristic of his Bini-sound is the power of groove. The Ulelele Power Sound are made up of drums, congas, bass, two guitars, winds and voices, all the instruments are used for rhythm. The result is a powerful plaid of squeaky harmonies, over which what predominates is the declaimed singing of Osayomore accompanied by an obsessive reply from the chorus.
His music is a tremendous invitation to dance. With its multiple repartitions of traditional Bini rhythms, representing the vertebral column of the songs, an exciting news with African notes nuances and Caribbean, to which it will be quite difficult to resist moving.
Originally published at the amazing Italian page tpafrica
01 Waka Waka
02 Iro Ghama
04 Okpani Ya
Oct 4, 2011
Watch out! Here they Come Again! A tiny West African Nation tnspires a politically provocative Afro-Rock Re-invention - Elikeh from Togo break the domination by neighbouring Nigeria, Benin and Ghana in the funk stakes. Read more about their new album Adje Adje on Azalea City Recordings....read more in the full article.
In the political maelstrom of Washington D.C., where Dr. King marched for civil rights, where soldiers vigorously protested Vietnam, and thousands continue to speak truth to power on the steps of the nation’s capitol, an adamant African voice exclaims, “Adje! Adje,” urging people to take action against social injustices. From atop a smoldering, Afro-rock soapbox, rooted in the traditions of his homeland, an African immigrant and activist belts out this rallying cry, warning against state corruption and capitalistic greed. “People are trapped between governments and corporations,” says the Togolese-born Massama Dogo – singer, guitarist, composer, and founder of the band Elikeh. “Africans,” in particular, he continues, “are being used and abused” by these institutions.
Exploiting a musical pulpit adorned with gritty guitar-heavy grooves, Dogo’s poignant diatribes achieve full resonance on Adje! Adje! (Azalea City Recordings, May 27, 2010), the new release from his D.C.-based ensemble. Emerging out of the increasingly vibrant African music scene in Washington, which includes such recently noted artists as Cheik Hamala Diabate and Chopteeth, Elikeh, who fittingly take their name from an African word meaning rooted-ness, have found a way to penetrate the saturated Afro-pop market by tapping the largely unexplored cultural roots of Togo.
Having been overshadowed by the Afro-pop powerhouses of its neighbors – Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria – Dogo and his group seek to put the tiny sliver nation of Togo on the musical map. Even within Togo itself, this nation’s music has been marginalized by its own state-sponsored media. Remarking on his childhood growing up in this West African country, Dogo recalls, “the radio never promoted anything from Togo. They only played music from other countries.” Although it is improving, even today, Elikeh faces a tough Togolese media that are primarily oriented towards Ghanaian hip-life, Congolese Soukous, and Ivorian Zouglou music.
But Dogo has never been one to back down from a political fight, as struggle and government participation run deep in his blood. A son of a long-time Togolese government minister, as a young man, Dogo risked his family’s reputation by speaking out in protest of the very institutions in which he and his relatives were entrenched. “People were surprised to see me talking about the government. I was going against those in power and the opposition party, by pointing out their corruption.”
As a child, Dogo similarly defied his father by playing the guitar instead of the one-stringed African lute called a tchimo. And, later, while directing the orchestra (guitar band) at the University of Lomé in Togo, he rebelled against his cohorts who only wanted to play cover songs. “At the time,” Dogo explains, “people only wanted to do covers of Western music like the Scorpions and the Rolling Stones. They also wanted to do popular African music from everywhere but Togo.” Dogo, going against the grain, wanted instead to play original material – his own compositions based on indigenous Togolese traditions, such as the upbeat skank of agbadja (often incorrectly confused with a reggae influence).
Finding little reception for his seemingly radical ideas in his own country, Dogo decided that it might be easier to pursue his artistic interests abroad, immigrating to Washington D.C. in 2000. When he arrived in the U.S. his struggles did not end, as he continued to confront many obstacles, not the least of which was the language barrier. Throughout his life, he had only spoken local African dialects and the language of Togo’s colonizer – French. “Everyone was speaking too fast, and no one could understand me when I tried to speak English,” he recalls. “I couldn’t even get water. I said ‘watah’ and no one knew what I was saying.”
Ironically, language, that was once a burden and barrier for him, has now become an asset, defining his sound and helping to distinguish his music from other artists. Dogo sings in a unique hybrid dialect only spoken in Togo’s capital. A mix of French and two indigenous African languages – Ewe and Mina, the intrinsic tonal qualities of these languages give his music a discernable melodic flavor. Although this language is not widely understood, inviting pressure from the music industry to sing in English, Dogo has remained true to his heritage, noting that, “this language influences the music and makes it what it is.”
Illustrating the distinct sonic beauty of this creolized African dialect, Dogo relates the hardships of his adjustment to American life on the song “Madjo.” Creating an entrancing mixture of linguistic buoyancy, over the intimate rhythmic strumming of a loan crystalline acoustic guitar, Dogo trades versus with guest Malian rap artist Yeli Fezzo, who sings in Parisian French.
On Adje! Adje!, Dogo is able to realize his artistic vision, creating original music that fuses indigenous Togolese traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities. “Novi Nye” (My Brother), begins with the interlocking bell and drum pattern of a music known as Kamou. This driving triplet-based rhythm continues as a muted guitar plays off this polyrhythmic motif, accompanying a sanguine flute characteristic of the Kamou, which floats throughout the song, giving the track a refreshing lightness. As a trio of guitars produces a stir of timbres and textures, each subtly using different electronic effects, the celebratory vocals call for unity among the various ethnic and political groups within Togo. “I wrote this song just before the recent presidential elections in Togo,” says Dogo. “I was thinking that although my country is divided along political lines, with the ruling faction living in the north and the opposition in the south, we are all brothers and sisters.”
Departing form the trends, Elikeh carves out their own musical space. “Everybody is going for straight up Fela Kuti Afro-beat style right now,” Dogo claims. “We have some of that influence; we have some highlife in there, but the way we incorporate rock is not there in other bands. As a joke we call it Afro-high; but we cannot call it that because everyone would think we are high all the time.” Reminiscent of the raw and rough Afro-rock sound coming out of West Africa in the 1970s, the songs “Oleblemi,” and “Get Ready” feature hard-hitting funk-rock grooves with mildly distorted guitar solos from veteran John Lee, who has played with a number of noted African musicians, including Baye Kouyate.
The band’s sound is also distinguished by the trifecta of gravely guitars that weave throughout the album, creating dense multi-layered polyrhythmic patterns. These textures shimmer on “Let’s March,” a slow-burning re-invention of a composition by Nigerian songwriter Orlando Julius Ekemode. “The original uses keyboards,” Dogo explains, “but I think that a lot of African bands overuse keyboards.” Providing a direct connection to the roots of this song, the rhythmical guitar of Frank Martins—who also appeared on Ekemode’s original recording of this song—reverberates on this African anthem. Martins is also featured on “Aiko,” which uses a slowed-down version of a style from the Southern part of Togo called tumewe, combined with the call and response of the agbekor style.
Building on the precedent of musical political activism set by artists such as Nigeria’s Fela Kuti and Zimbabwe’s Thomas Mapfumo, a majority of the ensemble’s songs have profound political themes. Opening the record with a haunting a capella chant, the album’s namesake, “Adje! Adje!” offers a warning. “We are saying: watch out! Here they come again – the multinationals and the corrupt governments,” says Dogo. “But this time we won’t let them take over our place!” This poignantpolitical message is punctuated with tight horn stabs, interlacing guitar lines, and dense polyrhythmical drumming provided by Tosin Aribisala, who is no stranger to socially conscious music. Arisbisala has toured with Femi Kuti, in addition to recording a tribute to Fela Kuti (Red Hot & Riot), which included such notables as Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Sade, Baaba Maal, and Taj Mahal.
With their distinct brand of Togolese-infused “Afro-high,” which merges a re-invention of the rugged Afro-rock of the 1970s with Afro-beat, highlife, and roots music of West Africa, Elikeh prove that the marginalized music of a tiny overshadowed nation can inspire engaging new sonic landscapes, and stand shoulder to shoulder with its more notorious neighbors.
gondwanasound.co.uk, written by Jill Turner
The West African nation of Togo doesn't have the same reputation for churning out Afropop as countries such as Ghana, Mali and Nigeria. But D.C.-based Elikeh, fronted by Togolese singer-guitarist Massama Dogo, is seeking to change that with its mix of Afrofunk, highlife and roots - a style it calls "Afro-high."
Elikeh's new album, "Adje! Adje!," is a serious call to action that maintains a vibe of jubilant perseverance throughout. Dogo's lyrics, sung primarily in a blend of French and the African languages Ewe and Mina, are layered over rhythms from percussionist Joseph "Papa Jo" Ngwa and drummer Tosin Aribisala and copious amounts of guitar from Michael Shereikis, John Lee and Dogo himself.
The title track is political cautionary tale, while "Oleblemi" is all joyful, skittering horns and '70s Afrorock influences. On "Madjo," Dogo's beautiful voice is served with nothing more than soft guitar accompaniment, while the near-five-minute "Get Ready," an instrumental punctuated by a few exuberant shouts, puts on full display the rhythms of Afrofunk.
Dogo has said that getting play in Togo, with its focus on the sounds of other countries rather than its own, is difficult, but hopefully tracks like "Let's March," which has Elikeh modifying a piece from Nigeria's Orlando Julius Ekemode in its own style, will soon be heard, as the songs says, from Lomé to D.C.
washingtonpost.com, written by Sarah Godfrey
Serge “Massama” Dogo grew up in Lomé, Togo, and is the first to admit that as a young man he was completely absorbed by the rock sound. When his father invited him to play the tchimo, (a traditional Togolese lute), he asked, “Why am I going to learn a guitar with one string? What's the point?” His sole focus then was on Western music, and it was guitar he wanted to learn. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Massama never expected to be a professional musician. “I was thinking about being a soccer player or something,” he laughs, “I was not really thinking about music until I got to college.” It was at the University of Togo from 1998 to 2000 that he became President of the Orchestra. He freely concedes that this was not as glamorous as it sounds. Massama was coordinating a small guitar band and it was in this role that he began to develop his craft as a musician, learning how to organize musicians and to resolve their differences. In directing this group he learned to write music in his own unique way.
These days, Massama has a deep concern that young Africans’ absorption in Western media and music has led them to neglect and under-appreciate their own cultures. “Kids are sucked into music from the West,” he says. “If young kids in Africa are going to learn how to be involved in their own culture, governments in Africa or people who have radio stations have got to change, and use the culture of their own country to educate the kids, because this is really a big problem. I am going to give you an example: 80% of young Africans who are musicians in the US do traditional music; 80% of young musicians based in Africa want to do Western music. So, that tells you a lot. It looks like when people come here [to the US], they discover more about their own continent than when they are back home, because the media system is messing up everything.” Indeed, when Massama first came to America in 2000 and was surrounded by friends who loved African music, he realized just what he had been missing in Africa—the significance and beauty of African sounds, and of his own Togolese music.
When we in the West think about African music, we often focus on Mali. Formidable musicians and musical traditions have their roots in this country. The masterful singers Salif Keita and Oumou Sangaré are familiar even to some with little knowledge of African music. Unfortunately, this focus on Mali has left many other countries with strong musical traditions in the shadows. Massama says, “You know there are a lot of great musicians in Togo, but there is no-one known to the world. Don't get me wrong, the music in Mali is really great, but I just think its time to open the window to music from other countries in Africa and see what is going on there. Africa is huge!” Massama's aim with his current band, Elikeh, is to open a window on Togolese music.
Based in Washington DC, Elikeh has a core group of musicians. Massama covers lead vocals and guitar, and his accompanists play guitar, bass, drums, two saxes, trumpet and percussion. On first impression, you might be tempted to label the sound afrobeat – the genre formulated by Fela Anikulapo Kuti in 1970's Nigeria. That would be a mistake. The uniqueness of this music defies genres. You realize that Elikeh is not easily categorizable, and perhaps it is not meant to be. Yes, there are shades of afrobeat, highlife, and rock in the mix, but it cannot be defined or labelled as any of those genres. Massama says that each musician in the band must sound “bluesy, pentatonic and melodic; it can be jazzy, but not too jazzy; rock, but not too rock. There's a distinct feel I look for when somebody comes to the band and plays.”
Rhythm is the key component. One Togolese rhythm central to Elikeh's sound is agbadja. It is close to a reggae rhythm, but more uptempo. Massama explains, “Agbadja is the type of music used mainly with drums. The rhythm was used when the tribes were going to war, and for ceremonies. But right now, it is used mainly for funerals. We use it in some of our songs.” The song “Adje, Adje” is one, and it’s the title track of Elikeh’s new CD. “Adje, Adje, never again!” Massama chants, and even if you don't understand his language, you know to listen up. Masama sings in Mina and Ewe, languages of Southern Togo. He’s pointing people in the direction of his country, and urging listeners to hear and understand its music. As with afrobeat, the brass arranging is reminiscent of James Brown’s funk in its heyday and those strong brass lines add emphasis to the lyrics. Many of the lyrics are chanted, bringing added power and forcefulness to the message. Massama explains, “‘Adje, Adje’ is just saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ All the good guys in Africa, the thinkers, Lumumba, you know, they were killed. When I say in the song, 'They are coming again', people will think I am talking about multinationals, but I am also talking about the African leaders themselves.”
“Oleblemi” the second track on the CD is highly danceable. Massama leads the vocal, singing, “Cheke, cheke,” prompting a chorus to echo him, “Cheke, cheke.” Unexpectedly, a rock guitar opens up and takes the song in an entirely different direction. Massama is singing about how politicians, whether in office or opposition, are liars. But, it is the slower, more spaced out, contemplative tracks that work the best on this CD. Of note is the track “Let's March,” where a bluesy guitar announces itself and takes flight. The melody is simple and vivid, and it sticks with you.
afropop.org, written by Dorothy Johnson-Laird
Washington, DC-based Afrobeat band Elikeh’s album Adje! Adje! landed on a lot of best-of-2010 lists at the end of last year for a good reason: it’s a phenomenal party album. This isn’t fratboy music, and it’s about as far from Vampire Weekend as you can possibly get: it’s the real thing, a mix of Fela-inspired, 1970s style Afro-funk with Ethiopian tinges, traditional Togolese sounds, a defiantly smart lyrical sensibility and a groove that’s every bit as infectious as it should be. There isn’t a single song on here that’s not catchy. The lead guitar, in particular, is excellent, whether burning through bluesmetal on the resolutely anti-imperialist title track that opens the album, delivering swaying funk or judiciously incisive blues lines. Add spicy horns and hypnotic, organic dancefloor rhythms to the darkly incisive, minor-key melodies, and you have a recipe for a tidal wave of moving bodies.
“Here they come again, this time I won’t let them take over my place,” Massama, the band’s Togo-born frontman insists on the title cut. “Congo is burning, they burn down our barriers…they killed Sankara, they killed Lumumba,” a warning that the imperialists are still as mindful of African resistance as they were during the colonial age. The single best track here might be the last one, a tersely thoughtful rap number, delivered in French over simple, funky acoustic guitar: “Everybody follows the American way,” Massama warns, but even if you’re African and you’re born in Paris, or the US, you’re still African. The solution? It’s up to the people; the oppressors won’t make things any better.
The rest of the album is just as diverse. About two thirds of the way through, there’s what’s essentially a suite of three hypnotic one-chord jams that speed up and raise the ante higher and higher, the sort of thing that seems designed to bring a concert to peak intensity. The album’s second track adds hints of reggae and balmy flute; the third, a flamenco-flavored number, features deliciously twangy reverb guitar and a dramatic Spanish guitar solo. The rest of the album veers from slinky funk to funk-pop and a suspenseful, intense vamp to wrap it up right before the closing rap. Shame on us for blinking and not including this on our Best of 2010 list.
1. Adje! Adje!
4. Novi Nye
5. Get Ready
6. Let's March