Jun 9, 2014

Orchestre Vévé Star - Baluti (get it)

Georges Kiamuangana was born in Kisantu, Bas-Congo on 19 May 1944. He took the name Verckys after being impressed with American sax player King Curtis and he heard the name "Curtis" as "Verckys." He started out in 1962 with Los Cantina, then Jamel Jazz. He joined Paul Ebengo a.k.a. Dewayon's Congo-Rock before joining OK Jazz in 1963 with some musicians from the band of Gerard Kazembe: Christophe Djali, trumpet, singer Henriette Boranzima and Dele Pedro. Georges became Franco's right-hand man and delighted audiences with his onstage antics and wild clothes. But when Franco was away in Europe in 1968 he took a splinter group with vocalist Youlou Mabiala into the studio to cut four sides, causing an irreparable rift. On 5 April 1969 he left OK Jazz to form Orchestra Vévé. The original singers of his group were Bovic Bondo, along with three who would later form the Trio Madjesi, Marcel Loko Massengo a.k.a. Djeskain, Sinatra Bonga Tsekabu a.k.a. Saak Saakul, and Mario Matadidi. Verckys started recording with a more stripped-down sound than OK Jazz, which gave him ample room for wild sax solos in the seben. His original band included Danila on solo guitar, Jim on bass, and veteran Maproco alongside himself on sax. He adopted Dr Nico's dance the Kiri Kiri and invented the Cavacha which was a precursor of Soukous. His first hits were "Mfumbwa" and "Bankoko baboyi" along with Saakul's "Fifi Solange." (These two songs were reissued as a 45 on the Ngoma label.) "Ah mokili" and "Linga ngai zuwa te" soon followed. With an unerring ear for quality, he recorded and produced Les Grands Maquisards, Orchestre Kiam, Bella Bella, Lipua Lipua, Les Kamale and Empire Bakuba, the most interesting bands to come up in his generation. He also recorded Thu Zaina (whose guitarist Roxy played on some Vévé recordings), Victoria Eleison and Zaiko Langa Langa. His label defined the new sound of Congolese music as it evolved away from the rumbas of the Generation Kalle to a more exciting dance sound. His singers [below] were so popular they broke away in 1972 to form Trio Ma-dje-si with their own band Orchestre Sosoliso and, recording for Socodi in Brazzaville, remained one of the top bands of the day.

With help from Roger Izeidi, young Georges, only 25, established a studio on Avenue Eyala, in Kasa-Vubu, Kinshasa. Vercky's early 70s recordings were collected on some LPs on the Sonodisc label, and his mid-career output as a producer appeared in a great 9-volume series Les Grands Succès des Editions Vévé on the Sonafric label, which featured many of the hits produced in his studio by Vévé and other bands such as Lipua Lipua, Les Kamale, Orchestre Kiam, and Zaiko Langa Langa. In 1972 he recruited Pepe Kalle and Nyboma, two youngsters from Bella Bella, to sing "Sola," "Mbuta" and "Kamale." He started orchestres Baya Baya, Lipua Lipua and Kiam, named for himself. Their first hits were "Yoyowe" and "Masumi." He rented equipment to Nyboma and Lipua Lipua who recorded "Amba," "Mombasa" and "Niki bue," but as soon as they were established they quit Verckys' label and regrouped as Orchestre Les Kamale. On his visit to Kinshasa James Brown dubbed him "Mister Dynamite"! He founded Editions Vévé in 1974. In 1976 he changed the name of his label to ZADIS (for "Zaire disc"). That year he issued "Papy Baluti" & "Muana Mburu" written by Francis Bitsoumani a.k.a. Celi Bitsou. The line-up at this time was Tino Muinkwa, Djo Roy, Nejos Tusevo, Pepitho Fukiau on vocals, Lambion on solo guitar, Aladji Baba on rhythm guitar, Ndolo & Celi Bitsou on bass, Bayard on drums, Ponta Vickys on congas, himself, Dibuidi and Sax Matalanza on saxes and Makamba on trombone. But after the success of "Muana Mburu," Celi Bitsou quit to go solo.

Verckys retired from performing to concentrate on his nightclub, his shop ZADIS on Place Victoire, his label, and promotion. His Vévé Center became the hot spot for Grand Zaiko Wa Wa, Langa Langa Stars, Victoria Eleison, Mbonda Africa, Afro International, Wenge Musica and other groups. In 1978 he recorded young sensation Koffi Olomide. In 1980 Verckys came out of retirement to release some new albums on the Vévé International label in Paris with his backing band also renamed Vévé International. Vocalist Diatho Lukoki was supported by Sonama, Michel Sax, along with Djo Mpoyi and Dizzy Mandjeku, formerly of OK Jazz (who quit to return to Franco). Luciana quit Viva la Musica to replace Djo Mpoy for three months. Later members included Elba Kuluma, Serge Lemvo, Asi Kapela, Rochesi and Lawi. Verckys was elected president of the Congolese Musicians Union in 1988. In 2008 Verckys was in hospital in Brussels for leg operations soon after completing a new album COUP DE MARTEAU.



1. Baluti 1 & 2 (Nguendi Aladji) 1976
2. Muana Mburu 1 & 2 (Bitshoumanou Boniface) 1977
3. Nakoma Juste 1 & 2 (Mwinkua) 1977
4. Mikolo Mileki Mingi 1 & 2 (Fukiau) 1976
5. Bilobela 1 & 2 (Kiamwangana Mateta) 1977
6. Fifi (Verckys) 1973


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