May 29, 2013

Zamrock special

 The Witch

While many of the other African nations’ music scenes have been well documented and in some cases have their music heard all over the world, not much is known about the Southern African state of Zambia.

Once upon a time known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia was a British colony and in the early '70s gave rise to the Zam-Rock scene - a combination of influences of James Brown and funk and Jimi Hendrix and a heavy dose of psychedelic began finding their way into Zambia - one of the bands at the forefront of this movement were called Witch.

Moving through the times until present day sees the Zambian youth soaking up the auto-tuned, ring-tone rapped influences of America and producing a very unique take on African Hip-Hop & R&B with the 'first lady' of Zambian Hip-Hop Cynthia Kayula Bwalya aka 'Kay' speaking about the scene and giving a female perspective on life in the industry and in Zambia.


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.

Emmanuel Kangwa 'Jagari' Chanda was a co-founder, lead singer and bandleader for the Zambian psychedelic rock band WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc) between 1972 and 1977. WITCH was the first ensemble to commercially release an album in this landlocked African nation; over the five years that they existed in their classical incarnation they released five albums that range from bluesy, British-influenced garage rock to the Osibisa-influenced groove most commonly referred to as 'afro-rock'. All of WITCH's founding members – along with most every progenitor of the 70s 'Zamrock' scene - have passed on, many from AIDS, which decimated Zambia in the 80s. This leaves Chanda, now a gemstone miner working in the bush of Zambia's north, one of the last of his kind. He takes his charge seriously and maintains an oral history of this once vibrant scene which became obscured and covered over during the last thirty years. Watch Chanda tell the story.

Lecture: Emmanuel Jagari Chanda (Madrid 2011) from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

May 24, 2013

The Ogyatanaa Show Band - Obra Mu Asem (GET IT!)

Here we have a second album by the Ogyatanaa Show Band, the group responsible for the legendary Yerefrefre (or "African Fire") album. Tracks from that record like "Yaa Amponsah" and "Mmobrowa" have appeared on the Ghana Soundz compilations, as well as the Agoro Records compilation I've posted here some time back (Agoro Nkoaa). Obra Mu Asem hasn't received the same kind of attention that Yerefrefre has (the cover is rather bland...), but in my book it's a great overlooked album that deserves some listening.

As with their other releases, this record from Ogyatanaa showcases the group's unique fusion sound. At its core Ogyatanaa is a dance-band in the tradition of Uhuru, Ramblers, E.T. Mensah, etc., yet elements of funk and soul have also been added. The classic dance-band sound has undergone development here with the integration of the other sounds of '70s Ghana. Just listen to the heavy organ throughout and that soulful singing!

A big "THANK YOU" goes again to

May 22, 2013

Kola Ogunkoya & The Atlanta Afrobeat Orchestra - Afrobeat

He was a band member in Nigerian music supper stars before coming out to follow his dream as a band leader on his own project called Gbedu Afrobeat, Kola Played with Dr Abimbola Victor Olaiya All stars Band in 80's as a Trumpeter at Stadium Hotel and outside gigs. With Handsome Wale Abiodun juju music star as Tenor Gultarist, With Webisco spiritual singers as a Keyboard pianist, With Jambos Express as Alto saxophonist , With Dayo Kujore as a Keyboard pianist, Dr Eddy Okonta Obi of trumpet as a Trombonist.

Also know as the first person to Play saxophone in FUJI MUSIC , it all started when Kwam1 King Ayinde Wasiu Marshal discover Kola ogunkoya as a creative artist with lots of talent and feature him in his Shows at Water parks Toyin street Lagos and other shows , Kwam1 then take a big step by asking him to play in his Hit album LEGACY which sold millions and still selling, sine then all Fuji and other musicians open up to option of adding saxophone to Nigeria original native authentiq music.

1996 Kola Ogunkoya Relocate his band and music to The United State Of America .
 Kola Ogunkoya (born 20 August) is a Nigerian afrobeat musician who uses the term "Afro Gbedu" to describe his style of music, which includes jazz, highlife, Jùjú, funk and traditional Yoruba music.
Kola was born in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria but was of Yoruba background, the son of an itinerant police officer. After moving from Iboland to Lagos, he attended Okota Community High School, a tough environment. He was a successful amateur boxer as a teenager, but due to opposition to his pursuing this career from his father turned to music, singing and playing trumpet in his local church. He now plays an array of instruments including saxophone - soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, trumpet, fluger horn, and slide trombone.

He was influenced by artists such as Orlando Julius Ekemode, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Dr Victor Abimbola Olaiya, Dayo Kujore, King Sunny Ade and many other Nigerian musicians with Authentic African music, for two years he played with Dr Abimbola Olaiya in All star Band at Stadium Hotel as a Trumpeter,  At age 18 he formed his own band in Lagos. Kola and his 15-piece Afro jazz Ensemble, which includes female dancers, has performed all over the globe. He went to USA in 1996 where he had a successful tour. On return to Nigeria he opened a cultural club for Art and Music in Opebi, Allen, Lagos. called GBEDU MUSIC VILLAGE He lost his investment to a corrupt businessman, and his brother Due to these experiences he returned to the USA, where he gained citizenship.

By 2010 he had recorded more than 8 CD.

Kola is no doubt a world-class musician who has evolved new sounds and combined elements of pure artistry in his lyrics and arrangement. Kola Omo Baba Olopa combines eclectic blend of jazz, Afro beat, highlife, juju, funk and traditional Yoruba music, using horns, guitars and keyboards along with traditional Nigerian instruments in his Sayo Music. Kolas unparalleled innovativeness in his music makes him one of the greatest musicians of this generation. Thank you my brother and more grease to your elbow.


01. Nigeria Dey Cry N.D.C.
02. Open ya eye
03. Emayo Kemajo
04. Easy Motion Owambe
05. Ololufe Mi
06. Ori Lonise
07. Moti Riregba
08. Back to the root
09. Ye Womi Rororo
10. Oluwa Baba Chinneke

May 17, 2013

Fela Kuti on KCRW (unearthed cassette interview)

Published on, written by Tom Schnabel (April 2013)

KCRW has a long relationship with the Nigerian firebrand known as Fela Anikulapo (one who carries death in his/her pouch) Kuti.  It started in 1980 when our first African show, Morning Goes Makossa, started airing every Tuesday  in the third hour of Morning Becomes Eclectic).  We had lp’s from Fela Ransome Kuti Africa 70.  There was a slight Nigerian slant to the program for two reasons:  there were no African albums to be had, and a guy named Loughty Lassisi Amao—percussionist for the popular British-based Nigerian band Osibisa–was living in LA at the time and brought all his Fela records in.  Later, having two Nigerian hosts on KCRW’s long-running African Beat program also helped spread the afrobeat gospel in Southern California.  Even before the internet,  KCRW’s influence on other radio stations both in America, Europe, and Japan was felt.  Each month we airmailed hundreds of playlists all over the world.

Fela was supposed to come to LA in 1984 to perform at the Hollywood Bowl, but he was arrested on trumped-up currency charges and put in jail.

I unearthed a cassette recording of an interview I did with Fela on Morning Becomes Eclectic in 1986 and he talked about that experience:

It’s a wonder that Fela got so much radio airplay on KCRW—his songs were usually 15-30 minutes long.  Only a station like KCRW could handle that kind of freedom.

Two years later, in 1986,  KCRW presented him at the Olympic Auditorium in downtown LA, the boxing stadium that was built for the 1932 Olympics.  I think it’s a Korean church now.  This was the first show KCRW ever presented!

I saw Fela many times.  He would let the big band cruise along for a while, saxes blaring, then come out and have an assistant light his joint.  He would sing, deliver lectures on colonial mentality, zombies and mental slavery, then break to take the occasional hit off the spliff.  One time, performing with his 27 wives all on stage (at the Greek I think, but it could have been the Wadsworth Theatre), his wives were on their knees in short skirts with their bottoms facing the audience, and I noticed–from the second row–that some of them weren’t wearing underwear.  Now I’m no peeping Tom, but you don’t forget such moments.

When I interviewed him he complained that his wives weren’t giving him enough freedom (he married all of them at the same time).  I turned the tables on him and asked him if he would give his wives the same freedom he was demanding of them.  He uttered “whoaaa”, shook his head.  He didn’t like that.  Here’s the clip:

He wasn’t wearing his underwear like he often did in interviews at his compound.  He did sport the body suit that he wore on stage….he was a small, muscular man, no body fat, all muscle and sinew; he reminded me of Miles Davis, who had a similar body type but  had a different sense of sartorial expression.

I knew about the Lagos army ransacking of his home—1000 army soldiers did the pillaging, raping, and beatings—Fela called it the Kalakuta Republic–it was their his famous and much-revered mother was pushed out of a second floor window.  She later died from her injuries.  She was a famous Nigerian, having won women the right to drive after being the first woman to drive, and was honored in Moscow with the Lenin Peace Prize for her efforts on behalf of women in Nigeria.  It was a shocking and brutal incident, but one all-too-common in Africa.

Years later i was coming home from LAX in a taxi driven by a Nigerian guy.  I could tell from his accent that he was Nigerian.  We started talking music, and I asked him about Fela.  He turned around and looked at me and told me “I was Fela’s road manager!”.  I asked him about the storming of the Republic.  He pulled the taxi over, drew his sleeves back, and showed me the bullet scars all over his arms.  I was horrified and amazed by this heavy dose of reality.

Fela was a privileged upper-middle-class kid with a politically-active mother and a strict religious father.  He used pidgin as his lingua franca to better connect  with regular folk.  He had been sent to England to university to study economics.  He chose music instead, forming his first band, Koola Lobitos.

 Fela Kuti and Tom Schnabel at KCRW 1986

Here he talks about what it was like in his house growing up:

But  the real turning point, one that changed his life forever,  was when he came to LA in 1969.  There he met a woman named Sondra Izsidore, and discovered  the local, burgeoning Black Power movement.  He never turned back.

In that 1986 interview, I asked him about his believe in a unified Africa:

James Brown scored a huge hit among people in newly-independent African nations in 1970 with his song “Say it Out Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.   The song resonated with young Africans,  who after hundreds of years of colonial rule, were eager to embrace their new African identity.  That same year Fela took his lessons from Sondra Izsidore and Los Angeles back to Lagos.  Black history and pride returning to Africa.  Africa influencing America.  And vice-versa.  It was cultural counterpoint, a tango if you will.

Fela ran for President of Nigeria but didn’t win.  He chided multinational corporations in songs like “I.T.T.” (the conglomerate IT&T becomes “international thief thief).  He angered those in power.  Everybody else loved him.  And now his sons Femi and Seun are carrying the torch and furthering the legacy that is Fela.

If Fela had lived to see his name on Broadway he wouldn’t have believed it. He may not even have liked it, but I think he would have—underneath it all,  Fela was a showman.   And if somebody had told me ten years ago that he’d be on Broadway, I wouldn’t have believed it either. 

May 14, 2013

Dieuf-Dieul De Thies: Vol. 1-Aw Sa Yone

 TERANGA BEAT proudly presents DIEUF-DIEUL de THIÈS in their first ever edition. Three singers ASSANE CAMARA, BASSIROU SARR and GORA MBAYE together with their chef d'orchestre and guitar player PAPE SECK (an ex-member of GUELEWAR) compose traditional rhythms from all the regions of Senegal, with fuzz guitars, horn sections and hallucinatory percussion.

The result is an explosive mixture of an Electric Psychedelic sound with the wisdom and superiority of the musical traditions of the region, a crossover of AFRO-MANDING and AFRO-JAZZ, in which each singer guides the 13-member band in a different direction. Even today this 32 year old recording sounds futuristic and it is really rather weird that DIEUF-DIEUL never had the chance to release an actual album.

Aw Sa Yone Vol.1 includes the biggest part of their second recording and the double LP comes in a special edition with a Silkscreen print cover (see pictures below) with a large poster & included in the CD booklet photos and liner notes outlining the group member's careers. There was no other group in Senegal with such a variety of cultural background and a strong identity. Senegalese music at its BEST! We hope you will enjoy.

May 10, 2013

The Ogyatanaa Show Band - Yerefrefre (GET IT!)

The Ogyatanaa (or "burning torch") Show Band was founded in 1971 by Kwadwo Donkoh, a former diplomat turned highlife musician and record producer.  I don't have much information about Donkoh, yet I consider him one of the big names in Ghanaian highlife, a behind-the-scenes figure and master arranger/composer.  In addition to his work with Ogyatanaa, Donkoh founded Agoro records in the early 1970s.  Agoro released diverse popular and traditional records, and later it would introduce the first albums by Ga cultural groups like Wulomei.

On this first album by the Ogyatanaa Show Band, we have classic tracks like "Mmobrowa" and a funky "Yaa Amponsah," yet my absolute favorite here is the "Yerefrefre" medley on side one, a twenty minute long track which pays tribute to Ghana's highlife greats.  Musicians like E.K. Nyame, C.K. Mann, King Onyina, E.T. Mensah, Nana Ampadu, and K. Gyasi are acknowledged, while hit songs by these artists are also "quoted" throughout the medley.  The group switches rapidly between songs, offering snippets of such tunes as E.T. Mensah's "All for you" and the Black Beats' "Lai momo."

A big "THANK YOU" goes again to 


If the name of the 70s Ghana funky highlife sensation “Ogyatanaa" somehow sounds familiar, you probably have the excellent Soundway collection “Ghana Soundz” – volume one or two; or the “Ghana Special” compilation. Ogyatanaa appear on all these excellent compilations.

Excerpt from the album back-cover written by Kwesi Yankah:

“It is difficult to talk about the best in the highlife sounds of the seventies, and not to mention the music of the Ogyatanaa Show Band. In 1971 it is established. Barely a year later in its very infancy it takes second position in the National Dance Bands competition (small bands) – taking the whole of Ghana by storm with its unique and yet to be surpassed arrangement of the highlife classic “Yaa Amponsah” gratefully served on this album. In 1973 it turns the highlife world topsy-turvy with the hit tunes “Mmobrowa” “Ebe Yie Nie” and others. In 1974 it goes into seclusion; it does not rest, mind you, it begins home-working on a big something – a big something which eventually materialises in 1975, in the precious album you hold now!”



A Yerefrefre
B1 Agya Nyame
B2 Akosua Manu
B3 Mmobrowa
B4 Bozin'
B5 Yaa Amponsah

May 8, 2013

The ‎Uhuru Dance Band - The Sound Of Africa (GET IT!)

The Uhuru Dance Band's rare, 1975 album The Sound of Africa was posted in full by an ebay seller last month. Released on Kwadwo Donkoh's Agoro label, this unique album blends funk, American soul/jazz, highlife, and dance-band music much in the same vein as the Ogyatanaa Show Band (you may recongnize the Uhuru's "Yahiya Mu" which was featured on the Ghana Special compilation). Accordingly, this unique sound was largely driven by saxophonist George Amissah (Uhuru's then band leader) and Kwadwo Donkoh, who worked as a composer, arranger, and musician on this album as well as Ogyatanaa's Yerefrefre and Obra Mu Asem. At the same time, much of the lead singing on The Sound of Africa (as well as the two Ogyatanaa albums) is recognizably performed by the same individual (see "I Know My Mission" for an example). Unfortunately this singer's name remains a mystery, as does the actual relationship between this album, Kwadwo Donkoh, and the Ogyatanaa Show Band. Of course, any additional information would be greatly appreciated.

A big "THANK YOU" goes to


A1 Biribi 3:55
A2 Osiakwan 4:01
A3 Nkobesie 4:08
A4 Sika (Money) 5:00
A5 Awareso 3:40
B1 Yahyia Mu 4:15
B2 Odo Te Se Bump 3:24
B3 Yung-Chu Karatin' 3:14
B4 Lome Tugbedze/ Lome Ahoofe 3:37
B5 Bo Dienkye 3:18
B6 I Know My Mission 3:38

May 3, 2013

Brigth Engelberts And The B.E. Movement ‎– Tolambo Funk

A killer and obcure rare afro funk album from an unknown Cameroonese bass player and lead singer. Recorded in EMI studio in Lagos in 1978 , the sound is definitely echoes of the soul funk american scene mixed with deep afro harmonies , great horn section & tremendous percussions. Few tracks were bootlegged few years ago but Hot casa record is proud to present the entire reissue of this gem - remastered!


A1 Civilisation In The World: Tile Track
A2 Free Me Now
A3 Tolambo Funk
B1 Let Me Hear Them Say
B2 Get Together
B3 Shifty Hand Woman