Feb 26, 2014

"Fantastic Man" - A documentary about William Onyeabor


Last year, when American label Luaka Bop released a compilation of songs by enigmatic 1980s singer William Onyeabor, they unleashed a full-on promotional campaign which included a website, t-shirts, buttons, a virtual fanclub, launch parties in cities around the world and a string of remixes by some big names in modern electronic music. The cd and double LP ‘Who is William Onyeabor’ is aptly titled, because few people know much about the artist and what became of him since he released his last pop album in the mid eighties.

The enigma greatly contributed to the appeal that William Onyeabor’s albums have to a young and mostly non-Nigerian audience around the world. His original albums are hard to find, the rarest ones fetching over 1000$ on Ebay, and until recently few people had spoken to the man again. Yet, his sound, which was certainly unique at the time, a merger of funk, soul and pop, played on expensive – analog – synths, with the occasional feel of a proto-house track, has proven relevant and of interest to a new group of people, which for a large part seemed to consist of white, 3o+ males who are otherwise into electronic music and the vintage sounds of Africa. The scope of Luaka Bop’s reissue has moved the exposure outside that group though, breaking new territories for reissues of African music of the 1970s and 80s.

The long mission to get William Onyeabor to agree on a reissue series has been partly documented, and our friend Uchenna Ikonne (Comb & Razor) played an important role there. The official story that was put out there by the record label is that William Onyeabor became a born-again Christian and didn’t want to have anything to do with his worldly artistic past. However, all this time it was conveniently left out that he continued making music, and even released a couple of music videos – all religious music, and therefor undermining the assumption of the PR campaign for the Onyeabor reissue series – ‘Who is William Onyeabor’? The answer to that question better not be ‘A Christian singer who has moved on from his musical past’, right?

And just as we were left at that conclusion, while enjoying the reissue compilation along with the integral release of his rarest album ‘Good name’, this came out: ‘Fantastic Man’, a 30-minute long documentary by You Need To Hear This (part of Vice magazine’s music section Noisey) which – just like previous articles – traced the steps towards meeting mr. Onyeabor and talking about his past, since he still refuses to shed light himself. Even people that have seen him recently talk about him as if he’s the greatest living mystery, leading to such quotes as ‘he’s a giant – he feeds once a day, and when he eats he will eat the food that 3 or 5 people consume’. Featuring record digger Duncan Brooker (Strut), producer Damon Albarn, writer and Nigerian musical historian Uchenna Ikonne, lawyer/historian Ed Keazor, producer Goddy Oku and many more but most importantly there’s at last a glimpse of the man himself on camera – meeting William Onyeabor outside his mansion near Enugu in South Eastern Nigeria. Watch the documentary above, and listen to ‘Fantastic name’ (the song) here.


Feb 24, 2014

Rax-Saba-Tha (get it)


This is a pretty obscure release by Ghanaian group Rax-Saba-Tha Inc. As far as I know this hasn’t been reissued or comped, and a Google search yields nothing. Sung entirely in English, the music within is a mixture of psych and funk with some jazzy elements here and there. A really great and consistent LP.


This is a pretty obscure release by Ghanaian group Rax-Saba-Tha Inc. As far as I know this hasn’t been reissued or comped, and a Google search yields nothing. Sung entirely in English, the music within is a mixture of psych and funk with some jazzy elements here and there. A really great and consistent LP that was one of my favorite discoveries of 2010. - See more at: http://dreamsinaudio.com/2010/12/20/african-heat/#sthash.LZWBs12X.dpuf
This is a pretty obscure release by Ghanaian group Rax-Saba-Tha Inc. As far as I know this hasn’t been reissued or comped, and a Google search yields nothing. Sung entirely in English, the music within is a mixture of psych and funk with some jazzy elements here and there. A really great and consistent LP that was one of my favorite discoveries of 2010. - See more at: http://dreamsinaudio.com/2010/12/20/african-heat/#sthash.LZWBs12X.dpuf

A1 Mama Can D
A2 Do It The Western Hustle
A3 It's Getting Up Time
B1 Brothers And Sisters
B2 Seventh Combination
B3 Peace And Love

Feb 20, 2014

Sotuh African Jazz: Dick Khoza - Chapita


By Matt Temple
[reissued by Matsuli (MM 101), 2010]


Lost for over 30 years, the five tracks that comprise Chapita are a fleeting glimpse of the mid-70s mood of downtown Johannesburg, filtered through the artistic vision of troubadour, arranger, composer and impresario Dick Khoza.

Chapita happened in 1976 because Khoza was able to convince Rashid Vally to sponsor a recording session. That's the short story. But looking back at how Khoza "followed" the music around South Africa, it becomes clearthatthis one-off album's greatness is the sum of all those purposeful and chance connections that happened over more than 20 years. This re-mastered recording is testimony to the endurance of Khoza's musical vision and to Rashid Vally's seminal role in the history of recorded jazz in South Africa.

Khoza was born in Malawi but grew up and lived most of his life in South Africa. In Khoza's day the work available to Africans was almost exclusively on the gold mines. Conditions were harsh and rules required that foreigners be sent home once contracts were completed. But Khoza was in South Africa for the music - work was something that happened to make music possible. The enterprising and streetwise Khoza moved from city to city, always finding a way to stay in South Africa and follow his passion for jazz.

WD 46 MENDI ROAD (Xhosa)
We travelled and went to Cape Town (iKapa)
We travelled and went to Port Elizabeth, (iBhayi)
We travelled and went to East London (iMohti)
It's nice in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London

In the 1950s Khoza joined future South African jazz greats Tete Mbambisa, Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Dyani, Nick Moyake and Aubrey Simani in an East London jazz group that was to become the Four Yanks. Later, while living in Cape Town, he played drums for Christopher "Columbus" Ngcukana. Legend has it that Khoza was responsible for introducing the young trumpeter Mongezi Feza to his former band mate, Dyani. Feza and Dyani, together with Louis Moholo, Dudu Pukwana and Chris McGregor, were later to become the internationally celebrated South African jazz group The Blue Notes. Khoza also toured with a show called Variety, together with singers Nosisi Rolulu and Abigail Kubeka.

In the early 1960s Khoza played with Lucky Malakana's Broadway Brothers. With the encouragement of Robert Matuba, he took up the drums full-time. At the Cold Castle National Festival in 1962, Khoza appeared with Eric Nomvete's Big Five. In 1964 he toured South Africa alongside Joe Balelka Daku in a band called The Sounds. He then formed Vuka (Wake Up) with Claude Ngcukana on piano.

By the early 1970s, Khoza had landed a regular day job at the Natal Command military base in Durban. Despite apartheid restrictions on night-time movement, Khoza snuck out at night to play with Alfred Nokwe and his Ndaba's Swingsters Jazz Band in Cato Manor. He was also active in a Durban jazz group with Pat Matshikiza, Simon "Baba" Mokoena, and Victor Gaba. At the Durban YMCA he helped younger musicians with regular jazz workshops. Khoza then joined forces with the young guitarist turned bass player Sipho Gumede in the Jazz Revellers. But the big city was calling.

Once in Johannesburg, Gumede and father-figure Khoza were drawn to Dorkay House, the Bantu Men's Social Centre, the Pelican Club, and Kohinoor Records - popular musician's meeting places and music hubs of the day. Lucky Michaels, who ran the Pelican in Orlando East in Soweto, employed Khoza as stage manager and leader of the house band. With Khoza at the helm, evenings at the Pelican often opened and closed with a rendition of the track Chapita. Well-known musicians would drop by for a session, informal jam, or to perform as part of the Sunday night cabaret. As a music laboratory, the Pelican played a significant part in the development of a number of seminal 70s bands, including Roots, Spirits Rejoice, Sakhile and Stimela. Khoza gained a reputation as a talent scout as well as a mentor (and strict taskmaster) to up-and-coming musicians.

Aside from his regular duties at the Pelican, Khoza played with leading jazzmen, including Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Cups Nkanuka, Duku Makasi, Temba Ngwenya and Roger Khoza. In January 1976, Tete Mbambisa called on Khoza for a session at Gallo Studios funded by Rashid Vally. This resulted in the highly regarded Tete's Big Sound album on Vally's As-shams (the Sun) label.

In September 1976, in the aftermath of the June 16 Soweto uprisings, Khoza took the Pelican Club house band into the studio to lay down the five tracks that comprise the Chapita album. The band included members of the Afro Pedlars (Mac Mathunjwa, Themba Mokoena and Ndoda Mathunjwa), together with Aubrey "Khaya" Mahlangu, Ezra Ngcukana and others. The Pedlars later rose to fame as the backing band for South Africa's greatest soul singer, Mpharanyana.

On the title track, in which Edgar Dikgole sings Khoza's stoic evocation of an encounter between two migrants in the city, the tension between a rooted African past and a precarious urban present is laid bare. The urban migrant "must" assure all at home that he is "doing alright", no matter how fragile and lonely he may feel. His most immediate of home comforts might well be that he is wearing his all-purpose blanket - as Khoza insisted on for the cover image of this album - a deep cultural connection, but also a cheap and practical means of protection from the Highveld cold.

Dick Khoza never returned to Malawi but retired in the early 1980s to Mdantsane, East London. From time to time he played with his musical soulmate Tete Mbambisa before passing on in the late 1980s. With this timely re-issue of Chapita - more than 30 years after its original release -the afro jazz sounds of Dick Khoza and the Pelican house band live on.

CHAPITA (Chiyanja)
Hello Chapita, how are you?
Me, I'm alright, I just came here.
How is my mother Chapita?
Me, I'll be coming home soon.


Rashid Vally grew up in downtown Johannesburg. The Champion Buildings, where he was born in 1939, still stand on Market Street today. Vally attended the Central Indian High School - a private school set up by the Transvaal Indian Congress to combat the impact of racial zoning of the city under the Group Areas Act. After completing school, Vally joined his father's cafe and grocery business on Kort Street. Opened in 1956, the Azad Cafe was directly beneath the famous Kapitans' Cafeterias where Nelson Mandela regularly ate while practising as a lawyer.

As a sideline Rashid Vally's father sold Indian film music. He often allowed Qawali singers like Suliman Patel to practise in the grocery store, the bags of sugar and flour acting as soundproofing. Valley senior started recording Patel, singers from the SS Karanja and others at the Trutone recording studio in Johannesburg. He released the results as five-packs of 78s and later as 45s.
It was around this time that the long-playing (LP) vinyl format was introduced and the young Rashid Vally fell in love with Louis Jordan's Somebody Up There Digs Me LP. When he wasn't delivering grocery orders by bicycle, he was working in the store and playing the latest jazz LPs. Anyone in the vacinity of the shop would hear the latest from Hank Mobley, Elvin Jones and others. It wasn't long before Rashid Vally opened a wholesale account with a US music dealer and started to sell imported jazz records. The Kort Street cafe was renamed Kohinoor, meaning mountain of light. In 1982, a second Kohinoor store opened on Market Street.

Not long after starting the music sideline in the early 1960s, Rashid Vally formed his first label -Soultown - and started recording South African dance and soul bands, such as El Rica's and the High Notes. The idea of recording jazz only came to fruition in the late 60s after spending numerous Sunday afternoons at Dorkay House jazz sessions and getting to know musicians such as Gideon Nxumalo, Lionel Pillay and Early Mabuza. The first jazz LP on Soultown was a recording of Gideon Nxumalo, entitled Early Mart.

In 1970 Dollar Brand (later Abdullah Ibrahim) visited Rashid Vally to discuss a business partnership. With the commercial side handled by Vally, Ibrahim set about recording a number of albums. Dollar Brand +2 (Peace) and Dollar Brand+3 (with Kippie Moeketsi) were recorded and issued on the Soultown label in 1971. Underground In Africa was recorded in 1974 with a new group of rock and soul musicians and was issued on the Mandla imprint.

Rashid Vally funded further sessions for Abdullah Ibrahim and his new band in Cape Town. These sessions yielded the anthemic Mannenberg. brahim coined the name As-shams (the Sun) for the record label on which Mannenberg was released. The As-shams logo was designed by Rashid Vally's brother-in-law, Abdul Kader AIL The LP sold at least 5 000 copies in the first month of release, purely by word of mouth. It was then licensed to Gallo -and sold more than 40 000 copies in less than a year.

Following the success of Mannenberg and further recordings by Ibrahim, Rashid Vally extended the As-shams catalogue by funding numerous recording sessions for jazz musicians keen to be given free rein in the studio. These records were heavily promoted through Kohinoor, which, by then, had become a legendary hangout for jazz lovers. It was also one of the few spaces in the city where people of different races could mix comfortably.

It is no exaggeration to state that Kohinoor and As-shams were beacons of light in a dark time. Today, the albums issued on the As-shams label are highly prized by collectors, archivists and lovers of South African jazz for the freedom of spirit they capture and embody. The impact on South African jazz of the As-shams label and Rashid Vally in making it all possible cannot be underestimated.


Dick Khoza - Chapita


A1 Chapita
A2 Zumbwe (Baby Tiger)
B1 African Jive (Moto)
B2 Lilongwe
B3 Wd 46 Mendi Road

Feb 17, 2014

Zamrock: Amanaz - Africa

Take a cursory look at the core of African pop music in the 1970s, and Zambia's "Zam-rock" scene might seem a bit out of place. With township music to the south; Afrobeat, highlife, and juju going on Northwest; and soukous thriving just over the northern border, there's something bluntly Western about some of the music that came out of cities like Kitwe or Lusaka mid-decade. But then, considering the European post-colonial influence that still ran through the country at the time, Zam-rock's fuzzed-out, psych/proto-metal bent shouldn't be that surprising. Neither should the fact that so little of it actually came to the surface until recently; if a dedicated ethnomusicologist is going to take a trip to central Africa, it's probably not to bring back albums that sound like Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum.

Which brings us to a more interesting facet about Zam-rock besides how out of place it initially seems: how out of time it actually sounds. Africa, the sole album by Kitwe five-piece Amanaz, is one of the better examples of the genre's style, and how it was both behind and ahead of its era. It was released in 1975, rock's weird no-man's-land period between glam and punk, but its buzzing riffs and noodly solos place it a bit closer to 1969. That said, it's hard to pinpoint their exact influences, and the ones that come to mind at first listen seem like some kind of projection: if few people in the States or Europe bought albums by the Stooges or the Velvet Underground when they first came out, what's the likelihood that they made it to a Zambian audience even five years later? Yet you get a Ron Asheton wah-wah snarl in "Making the Scene", and there's a pretty Sterling Morrison-style lead guitar on "Sunday Morning"-- which, besides sharing a title with a popular Velvets song, also sounds eerily like "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'".

But it could all just be the shared byproduct of recording straightforward, low-budget rock in an economically depressed environment. For all their cursory musical similarities with the same bands that inspired punk rock, Amanaz were fairly unassuming, even through all the fuzztone. Unassuming in this case doesn't necessarily mean unambitious-- on record, they sound like a band that wanted to ply their trade in heavy rock, folk-pop, and funk all at once-- but there's a rawness on this album that gives it a familiar garage-band appeal. Rhythms shift from minimalist plod-stomps one track to supple grooves the next; lead singer Keith Kabwe's voice sometimes stretches past his melodic range into an off-key flatness that would be more off-putting if it didn't sound so spontaneous, and it's all recorded with a muddy fidelity that, if reminiscent of bedroom tape culture, doesn't do the music any favors by turning what could've been a wall of guitar squall into a flimsy chain-link fence.

Not like much of that can be helped or even really matters, since Africa is one of those albums we should at least consider ourselves lucky to even get a chance to hear. Kabwe had retired to a life of farming by the time this album was proposed for reissue, and out of the other four band members, only guitarist Isaac Mpofu still survives. So hearing Kabwe wail, "Lemme tell you something new/ About the history of the man/ He's got nothing to lose," in "History of Man" resonates a bit more knowing just how little was saved from the Zam-rock scene for future posterity and how close to impermanence Amanaz's music actually came.


In recent years, reissues of obscure African LPs have been sprouting from the shelves of in-the-know record shops around the globe. Turned on by the blend of acid-soaked guitar pyrotechnics and traditional grooves, collectors have giddily forked over cash for recordings by artists from the continent who, during the late-1960s and early-’70s, had their dials tuned to broadcasts of American and British blues, psych, soul and funk. 

In many ways, it makes sense that the African take on these genres would prove attractive to the ears of contemporary followers of such sounds; the song structures and playing styles, schooled on Hendrix, James Brown and Cream, and frequently English lyrics may sound more at home to Western audiences than other, wilder breeds of International rock from the era. However, ease of digestion should not be seen as the only reason why these records are so rabidly devoured. 

The period’s particular combination of timing, location and influences created some rather stunning sounds. A prime example of this fortunate collision can be found in the work of Zambian bands such as Ngozi Family, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, WITCH and Amanaz. Whether combating government, poverty, pressures of youth or just wanting to score chicks, these and other Zambian groups were responsible for a “Zamrock” sound both identifiable and individual. 

Amanaz, who hailed from Kitwe, Zambia’s third largest city, released their sole LP, Africa, in 1975. While often hailed as a lost stoner classic, the album’s charms are far deeper than spliff-smoked riffing. The band — composed of Keith Kabwe, Issac Mpofu, John Kanyepa, Jerry Mausala and Watson Lungu — less hop genres than mould them into a warm, buzz-inducing brew. Benefiting this, the sound quality on the 2010 CD reissue of Africa, which was organized by noted digger Egon’s Now-Again label, is crisper than previous additions — a welcome refinement for those used to hearing these recordings via inferior bootlegs. Those into wax can try their luck locating a copy of the beautiful, and wickedly expensive, LP version courtesy of Shadoks Music. 

The album opens with the instrumental “Amanaz,” which establishes a general M.O. of seamless grooves locked underneath furry electric leads. “I Am Very Far” rolls slow and lazy, chugging along on a muddy blues progression. Highlight “Sunday Morning” approximates the sound of later-day Velvets, had Lou and friends spent some quality time in the sun. 

The record sports nine tracks sung in English, and three in Bemba, the group’s native tongue. While the English cuts are more immediate, their traditional counterparts are often more transporting. The title track, which opens Side 2 of the LP, features a loping melody and animated harmonies that could easily be absorbed for far longer than its four-and-a-half minute length. 

What ultimately is so impressive about Amanaz is the sense that one is listening to a band perfecting a new sound without laboring to do so. It is this delicate balance that makes Africa not only a record of two worlds, but one well deserving of a place in the rock ‘n’ roll canon.


For the past five years or so, around the time that platinum records went near-extinct, record labels have been increasingly putting nearly as much effort, if not more so, in reissuing and repackaging existing albums as developing new artists. This is how we end up with three different versions of, say, Chromeo’s last album, or a wide variety of options when it comes to which edition of Iggy & The Stooges’ Raw Power to pick up. While some labels have put most of their effort into redundancy, however, others, like the always impressive Now-Again, have turned toward obscure world classics that, otherwise, most of us would have never even heard of, let alone heard.

Having already released a handful of excellent compilations of African music, Now-Again recently took to reissuing the sole album by Zambian psych-rock band Amanaz. Africa, while released the same year as Fela Kuti’s Expensive Shit, has a lot less to do with Afrobeat or funk and a lot more to do with psychedelic rock. In fact, there are strong influences from both American and British psych-rock bands of the 1960s, with vintage fuzz guitar sounds blazing throughout. In fact, an upbeat rocker like “Big Enough,” with lyrics in English, no less, isn’t too far removed from the likes of Blue Cheer or Cream, if not quite as heavy.

Amanaz were part of a movement in the ’70s known as “Zam-rock,” a pretty remarkable if short lived period of creativity that was stifled by the rampant poverty and political unrest in the country during the era. The band-Keith Kabwe, Issac Mpofu, John Kanyepa, Jerry Masaula and Watson Lungu-balanced noisy rock numbers and stoned, groove-based blues numbers with sinewy basslines. It’s on those bluesy numbers, like “Easy Street,” in which the band shows a slightly more pronounced connection to Nigerian or Ghanaian highlife, though those moments arrive between more heavily fuzzed out rockers like “History of Man,” a super cool standout with a disorienting, fuzzy mix in which the guitar sounds almost lower than the bass. “I Am Very Far,” meanwhile, is a more straightforward pop track with a little bit of Byrds jangle, and “Making the Scene” has a sinister enough groove to soundtrack a vintage police drama.

The unearthing of an artifact like Amanaz’s Africa is always an exciting thing, primarily because its relative obscurity makes it something that few outside of the band’s native Zambia will have heard. Frankly, it’s kind of amazing that an album of its kind was not only recorded, but survived for this long in spite of the history of its country of origin. Most importantly, though, it’s an artifact that makes for a highly enjoyable listen, offering a great balance of laid back grooves and fuzz rockers alike.



THE reason some people did not hear much of a band called AMANAZ which rocked the Zambian music scene in the early 1970s could be that the outfit disintegrated soon after hitting fame.
Amanaz was of the class of other greats such as the Tinkles, Peace, Witch, Salty Dog and Dr Footswitch and their beat pointed to the direction of Zamrock which characterised the local scene then.

It was a promising band which tried to consolidate the Zamrock foundation upon which direction Zambia music was supposed to chart.

The heavy Zamrock band whose 1973 release-AMANAZ-Africa album is currently on sale in Europe and the United States of America(US), will never be erased from the Zambian music history and will ever remain a role model for young and upcoming crop of musicians.

Formed in 1973 in Kitwe, A.M.A.N.A.Z an acronym for; "Ask Me About Nice Artistes In Zambia", became an instant hit drawing attention from various music promoters of that time like Zambia Music Parlour Limited(ZMPL) director Edward Khuzwayo and producer Billy Nyati and Teal Record Company.

Former Band leader Keith Kabwe, who is one of the three survivors of the five-man outfit, says it was unfortunate that the band which caused mayhem in various night spots in Lusaka and the Copperbelt, could easily crumble just like that.

"You know sometimes when you become big and hit such fame, that is when things like that happen, you just disintegrate. That is how we broke up in 1976," Kabwe explains in a recent interview.
Kabwe recalls that, the band was getting well known throughout the country with a number of public appearances in Country clubs, Hindu Halls and other renowned places and its fame had spread like wild fire within a short time of its formation.

The band comprised seasoned guitarists that included Keith, who had just joined from the Klasters on vocals and tambourine, John Kanyepa from the Black Souls in Kitwe on lead, Rhythm and vocals, Watson Lungu (drums, vocals), Jerry Mausala from Macbeth on bass and Isaac Mpofu who broke away from the Wrong Number on rhythm guitar.

It was a fantastic combination considering that, all the musicians were well exposed and full of experience producing rare but heavy sounds which constituted the Zamrock beat.

"It was a humble beginning that brought together some of the best musicians in the country," starts Kabwe as he recalled how the band was formed.

Kabwe says it happened at the time when he was working as dispatch clerk at Caltex at the oil terminal in Ndola and one of his colleagues, Watson Lungu and Jerry Mausala who were both with the Mac Beth then performing at Nchanga Hotel, decided to break away from that group.

"Keith Mlevhu had also quit Macbeth and we were looking for more members and at that time, we decided to bring our instruments to Ndola at Jerry's sister in Kansenshi residential but we later shifted to Kitwe where members Isaac Mpofu and John Kanyepa joined us," Kabwe says.

The band then settled in Kitwe and was looked after by a colleague Sundie Ngoma at the Copperbelt University (CBU) campus then called Zambia Institute of Technology (ZIT).

It appeared that the band was now ready for action and started rehearsals in Kitwe putting together numbers which later became memorable hits.

In the same year of its formation Amanaz clinched a deal with both Teal and ZMPL and put their works on record at Malachite studios in Chingola and released their debut album, Amanaz Africa which was well received by the fans.

The 12-track album opened with an instrumental song, Amanaz, then followed by I am very Far, Sunday Morning, Khala My Friend, History of Man, Insunka Lwendo, Africa, Green Apple, Making the Scene, Easy Street, Pick Enough and Kale.

It was all rosy as the band jammed throughout the Copperbelt where they competed with bands such as the Witch and Gas Company for example.

But a few differences here and there soon forced the break up and Kabwe went ahead to form a new band called Drive Unit in 1976 forcing Mausala and Mpofu to leave.

The Drive Unit band which had former President Rupiah Banda's younger brother Ricky Banda of the Chifundo Pa Mutima fame including Webby Kausa in its ranks, recorded two singles namely, Watch Out and Honest Woman but Kabwe seem not to remember very well the songs on their flip sides
"We were sponsored by an Asian business executive who ran an undertaking called Tata in Ndola and we soon embarked on a tour of Mufulira where we jammed at various places in the mining town," Kobe recalls.

But Drive Unit was short-lived and broke up the same year putting an end to the otherwise successful journey of the gifted musicians.

It was short musical experience for the bandsmen which brought so much to the fore, exposing their expertise but then threw their chances to the wind, leaving fans dumb-founded as no real explanation was given as to why the much heralded AMANAZ had to go.

Apart from Kabwe, other surviving bandsmen includes Mpofu who is now a farmer in Chongwe and Mausala who is in Luwingu, Muchinga Province.

Kabwe who is now a born again Christian running a branch of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Mbala, Northern Province, has however put up a number of gospel tunes which he intends to release once sponsors come on board.

He very much appreciates the singing talent among the young musicians but deplores their failure to use musical instruments.

"There has been great improvement on the part of the young musicians, but I think they have to do much on the use of musical instruments and there are only a few young ones who can use these instruments now," Kabwe says.

He wants to assemble formidable musicians such as the much improved Uncle Rex for example, who could help him record his gospel music properly Kabwe now in his fifties and married with six children, is looking forward to the time when local musicians will take it seriously to keep the direction of Zambian music on course.


Feb 14, 2014

Cinzano Domino's Band - Struggling For Your Life




A1 I Need You
A2 Struggling For Your Life
A3 Colly Sit
B1 Sometimes I Feel It
B2 Africa
B3 Lord Help Me

Feb 13, 2014

From Congo: Orchestre Vévé

'African grooves with a more laidback feel can be found on this excellent retrospective. Leader Verckys is one of the titans of Congolese music, a former Franco associate whose exploration of the region's folkloric rhythms like the cavacha was laregly responsible for the soukous beat which followed. The ten tracks here are magnificent, upful rhythm zephyrs.'
Verckys Kiamuangana Mateta is one of the most influential figures in the history of Congolese (Zaïrean) music. As a saxophonist, composer and bandleader he was able to rival both Franco and Rochereau. He developed his own honking, gutbucket style of sax playing which characterised some of the most exciting music of the 1960s and 70s.

Verckys was a great showman who liked to play up to the crowd. He really let fly during the sebenes occupying a musical space which had previously been the preserve of solo guitarists only. After generating some raucous excitement as a member of OK Jazz he founded Orchestre Vévé in 1969. He has been credited with creating the cavacha beat that led on to soukous. In effect, Verckys’ unique studio sound, his unerring ear for talent and unquenchable enthusiasm turned him into the godfather of modern Congolese music.



  1. Sakumuna 5.11
  2. Baluti 9.33
  3. Marcelo Tozangana 5.27
  4. Ah Ngai Matinda 5.49
  5. Bea 5.20
  6. Bilobela 10.19
  7. Londende 9.30
  8. Mama Djele  4.40
  9. Mikolo Mileki Mingi  8.02
  10. Vivita  9.42

Feb 12, 2014

Stanley Murphy – Dzeu Fur Lô Mê-hon

Consistent hybrid funky fusion afro pop LP from Ivory Coast.


A1 Dzeu Fun Lo Me Hon
A2 Yapo Dadié Michel Béchéké
B1 Beda Achi Yako
B2 Me Houe Ze Me Tan

Feb 10, 2014

Survival – Simmer Down

While bands like Ofege and BLO have slowly becomes household names for collectors, there are still many Nigerian bands and albums that have remained unknown in most circles.  Survival’s lone effort ‘Simmer Down’ is one of those albums.  Primarily an Afro Rock album, it contains psychedelic, soul, afrobeat, funky and progressive moments, all done in a raw nature with unpolished mixes and an underlying consistency that doesn’t lose the listener.  Songs are filled with fuzz guitar solos, flute solos & organ solos.  Recorded by a group of talented High School students at the legendary ARC studio owned by ex-CREAM drummer Ginger Baker, this album seems to have remained under the radar until now.  Filled with complete notes by the band with photos and history, including a story detailing a battle against OFEGE at the infamous ‘Space Funk’ competition.  A limited edition pressing of 1000 copies on LP, with insert and photos and 800 CD with 12 page booklet.  A gem from Nigeria, and one you won’t find an original for anytime soon.



A1 Ripples
A2 Survival
A3 Meditation
A4 Emotions
B1 Simmer Down
B2 Own Kind of Trouble
B3 Jungle Justice
B4 Chewing Dust
Check out price for original copy @ popsike.com 

Feb 8, 2014

Tony Allen: An Autobiography Of The Master Drummer Of Afrobeat!

First of all, drummers are going to love this book. With so few autobiographies of drummers in print, the publication of Tony Allen: An Autobiography of the Master Drummer of Afrobeat is a cause for celebration. Co-author Michael Veal, author of Fela: The Life and Times of a Musical Icon and an accomplished musician himself, brings to life the rhythm and emotional timbre of Tony Allen's speaking voice and the complex story of this singular, Lagos-born-now-expatriate musician in a first-person narrative that takes the reader through a particularly transformative time in West Africa's post-colonial history. Most importantly, the book is a hell of a lot of fun to read, although Allen's first-hand accounts of his struggles with shamanistic bandleader and Nigeria's adopted "black president" Fela Anikulapo-Kuti will piss off any musician who has had to fight to get paid for playing a gig. And Allen's chillingly matter-of-fact recollection of the aftermath of the 1977 military raid on Fela's "Kalakuta Republic" compound, a raid that involved beatings, rape, mutilation, and nearly burning the compound to the ground, is truly terrifying.

 Swinging Like Hell!

Afrobeat, a musical genre that Veal describes as Nigeria's "sonic signature," was born out of Allen's mastery of what he describes as "a fusion of beats and patterns," including highlife, rumba, mambo, waltz-time, traditional music from Nigeria and Ghana, American R&B and funk and, not surprisingly, jazz. On Allen's first U.S. tour with Fela's band Koola Lobitos, a band that would be renamed Africa 70 upon its return to Nigeria, Allen heard and met drummer Frank Butler, who played drums with such musicians as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. Allen cites the drumming techniques he learned directly from Butler as "the final piece of the puzzle that just made everything catch on fire."

And catch on fire it did. In his vivid description of Allen's drumming on the track "Fefe Naa Efe" from Fela and Africa 70's 1973 album Gentlemen, Veal writes: "Like the great jazz drummers, (Allen) keeps a steady conversation with the other instruments, particularly the soloists...Like a great boxer, he knows when to jab with his bass drum in order to punctuate a soloist's line, when to momentarily scatter and reconsolidate the flow with a hi-hat flourish, when to stoke the tension by laying deeply into the groove, and when to break and restart that tension by interjecting a crackling snare accent on the downbeat."

The book not only reveals Allen's methodical, years-long development of a new way to play the drum kit and propel Fela's compositional and political vision, it also shows Allen never stopped developing his technique post-Fela and continues to bring "the vitality of Yoruba artistic creativity" into new and innovative creative contexts. Allen negotiated the "world beat" market of the 1980s and 90s and experimented, like many African musicians recorded during those years, with heavily electronic and dub production techniques. In recent years, Allen has recorded and performed with American, French, and British musicians from genres that may seem light years away from his highlife roots. He saves some of his highest praise in the book for Damon Albarn, formerly the lead singer and bandleader of the wildly popular British band Blur and who has collaborated with Allen on several projects. "The way Damon came into my life," says Allen, "it was kind of like it had been written...not only did this guy make a big difference in my career, but we are also very good friends."

After many years of being underpaid and under appreciated for his innovations, Allen is currently enjoying a creative renaissance. One of the most moving passages in the book comes toward the end when Allen, now in his 70s, describes how busy he is "touring all over" Europe and what drives his creative work ethic. "I still want to play something impossible," Allen writes, "something that I never played before."


Nigerian drummer Tony Allen is famous for helping create Afrobeat as member of Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band.

'I still want to play something impossible': Meet Afrobeat king Tony Allen

 The first thing he asked was 'Are you the one who said that you are the best drummer in this country?' I laughed and told him, 'I never said so.' He asked me if I could play jazz and I said yes. He asked me if I could take solos and I said yes again."

That's how Tony Allen details his first ever encounter with Fela Kuti back in the mid-1960s, a meeting that was destined to trigger an explosive sonic collaboration that a few years later gave birth to the blistering Afrobeat sound -- arguably the most exciting period in the history of popular West African music.
This anecdote, and many more others, are featured in the newly released autobiography of Allen, the iconic Nigerian drummer who's left an indelible stamp on the history of world music with his distinctive style and pioneering grooves. Brian Eno has hailed Allen as the "greatest living drummer."

Co-written with Michael E. Veal, "Tony Allen: An Autobiography of the Master Drummer of Afrobeat" follows Allen's life from his early days growing up in the heart of Lagos Island, though his struggling first steps as a badly paid freelance musician, the meeting with Fela and the heights of their "Africa 70" band, to his departure from the group and his relocation to Paris in the mid 1980s.

Master drummer

Born in Lagos in 1940 to a Nigerian father and a Ghanaian mother, Allen was the oldest of six children. His first gig came in late 1950s when he started playing clefs in a highlife group called "The Cool Cats," before taking over the band's rhythm section.

From then on, Allen went on to hone his self-taught drumming skills by dipping into different styles as a member of several other Lagos bands -- including "Agu Norris and the Heatwaves," "The Paradise Melody Angels" and "The Western Toppers."

In 1964, Allen met up with Fela and his career took a different, more exciting path. Over the next 15 years, Allen would be the rhythmic engine for the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and political rights activist, first for the highlife-jazz outfit "Koola Lobitos" and then for the seminal "Africa 70" group.

It was after the band returned from a 10-month stay in the United States in 1969 that Allen created the potent drumming concept of Afrobeat, fusing the different beats and patterns he'd heard while growing up with the new techniques he'd mastered as a professional drummer -- everything from highlife and traditional Nigerian music to Western jazz, funk and R&B.

"I was looking for something," Allen says, from Paris, where he is currently based. "I wanted to be myself," he adds. "I played like everybody already but there was no point in continuing doing that because I'd be bored completely."

Allen, the only member of Fela's band allowed to compose his own parts, could famously drum in a different time signature with each of his four limbs. Driven by his fluid and steady drumming, Africa 70 went on to record a string of highly successful and politically charged albums, which turned Fela into a huge musical and countercultural icon in Nigeria and abroad.

But it was onstage where the full force of Afrobeat's intoxicating sound and the talents of Fela and Allen really shone through.

"With me and Fela, it's a question of telepathy," Allen says of the musical closeness he enjoyed with "Africa 70's" firebrand leader.

"That is why I was able to stick around this guy for 15 years -- you know, I never did that with anyone before; the maximum time I stayed in a band was one year," adds Allen.

"Since I met him I knew that this guy had something, this is the type of challenge I needed ... I just believed that I am meeting a genius and it's great to work with a genius."

Life after Fela

This deep appreciation of Fela's musical brilliance oozes through the pages of Allen's autobiography. But the narrative is also filled with wrangles over payments and recognition. In the end, Allen says it was not the ongoing pay disputes but the increasingly volatile situation around Fela's political activism that led to Allen leaving the group in 1978 -- events like the army attack on Fela's compound in 1977.

"The only thing that happened was that it became a package of madness," Allen says. "I stood it for a while too, I was inside it -- I had been arrested, I had to submit myself because he is like my brother."

Allen's departure left a big void in the heart of the Afrobeat sound. Fela, who replaced his polyrhythmic sideman with four drummers during live performances, once said that "there would be no Afrobeat without Tony Allen." The two remained friends until Fela's death in 1997.

After leaving "Africa 70," Allen went on to form his own bands in Nigeria before relocating to Paris in 1985.
Since then, he's released several well-received albums. A musician committed to innovation, he's joined forces with an eclectic roster of both African and international musicians over the years-- including Damon Albarn, King Sunny Ade and Jimi Tenor.

Today, at the age of 73, Allen still remains as active as ever.

"I don't see the end of exploring," says Allen, who is currently working on a new album. It's a sentiment echoed in his final remarks in the book.

"I still challenge myself every time with my playing," Allen writes. "I still want to play something impossible, something I never played before."


Feb 7, 2014

How African Music is Winning the West

Joshua Bullock explores the immense impact newly digitised African music is having on the West.

As Western bands increasingly investigate the ever-expanding volume of releases and re-releases from the African continent, with the help of discerning European labels like Analog Africa, Soundway and Honest Jon’s, how long will it be before the way we are adapting these forms becomes parody?

Perhaps when we start getting it wrong. So many of these cross-cultural collaborations are just so damn right. From Damon Albarn’s African Express project that took dozens of British and African musicians by train on a UK-wide musical jamboree, via the Nairobi-London indie soundclash of Owiny Sigoma Band, to U.S hip-hop giant Nas sampling Ethiopian Jazz arranger Mulatu Astatke. BBC Radio 6 - Gilles Peterson’s weekly Saturday show in particular - continue the intrepid spirit of the late music journalist and DJ Charlie Gillett in bringing new sounds to new ears. The sleeve notes of Samy Redjeb’s Analog Africa compilations are a musicologist’s joy, full of archive photos and research into the life and times of the featured bands. 

Miles Cleret, founder of Soundway Records says, “Ultimately people love the music. They wouldn’t be interested in the cultural background if the tunes weren’t so good.” The more producers like Nicolas Jaar and Lefto loop and remix African jazz, soukous and highlife, the more hungry fans are to move upriver and discover more. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but watching a big ten-strong Afrobeat orchestra or an Ethiopian jazz quartet play live is the truest reflection of their spirit. This is music that comes from community and needs to be heard and understood as such, not just in the fragments Western artists are chopping and choosing to brilliant effect. Seeing Seun Kuti and his band, Egypt 80, at Lovebox festival in London was a mixed blessing: it was an intoxicating, total performance that in showmanship, energy, craft, volume and size blew away the mannered indie peacocks and electro acts that followed. As the wisest man in pop, Damon Albarn, has realised: if you can’t beat it, join it.

However, taking a large African band on tour is a visa-strewn minefield and significant financial risk, even for such stars of the festival circuit as Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Another concern is that African musicians receive proper royalties from their music. Samy Redjeb says that his label, Analog Africa, pays artists more than any European company ever offer him to license the songs from his label. He articulates a concern that African artists do not always receive the proper fruits from their labours: “At the end of the day there is almost nothing African bands can do to stop people using their tracks without paying their dues. Often there is no address for them to be contacted or there is confusion about who owns the copyright.”

The chaos of an industry that doesn’t act like one only serves to add to the romance of the music. Listening to the blind Malian guitar duo Amadou and Mariam, or the classical strains of kora player Toumani Diabaté conjures a world we know so little about. Our imagination is never fully checked by context, by celebrity or the intrusions of a tabloid press, or a snarky musical intelligentsia that wants the next thing before it’s even finished considering the current. These musicians are famous in their own right. They weren’t ‘found’ by us, they were always here, even if only now they’re being heralded by a global fanbase from Japan to Australia. The old Cuban musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club were once asked if they ever in their wildest dreams thought they’d become as famous as they had. They replied, yes of course, but they were only sorry it hadn’t happened sooner when they were young and could do something with the money.

This new music offers an alternative narrative to the hard reportage of civil war and famine that paints Africa as either teeming shantytown or antelope-flecked savannah. This is the music of the glorious in-between, with one foot in tradition and the other in the now. It evokes a subtler picture of African societies, where a youth in 70s Abidjan - capital of the Ivory Coast and the ‘Islamic Funk Belt’ of West Africa  - could be defined by wearing flares and stand-up collars as much as his tribe or religion. Watch the superb documentary Dolce Vita Africana to discover how the renowned Malian photographer Malick Sidibe documented a similar period of riotous expression in his country. See that nostalgia and suburban malaise are African experiences too.

Perhaps there will come a time when Africa’s musical styles become so influential that kids in Sheffield will be releasing Cameroonian Bikutsi mash-ups in the same way the rapper Baloji is channelling Tupac to describe the rape and suffering of the Congo.

Neal Cassady once said, “Life goes where the new forms are”. The incredible rise of African music in the digital age reflects a yearning for live performance and fresh sounds, as much as it marks a rejection of styles of mainstream pop and electronica that have become trapped in derivative retro cycles. As the software to produce music becomes simpler and anyone with a ripped copy of Logic and a half-decent microphone can program their own beats, the new arrivals on the web stream are invigorating. As the West delves deeper, more Afro-collaborations and fusion projects may go awry, their lustre tarnished by over-exposure, but this will be a triumph in itself. We’ll have articulated something musically we cannot politically, that true internationalism is not only inevitable, it is a joy.


Feb 4, 2014

Los Issifu And His Moslems - Tanga Beat

Bild von Los Issifu and his Moslems

There is no doubt about it, the sounds created by Los Issifu have been extremely influential ever since the early days with the Cafe De France Band. After that time, he spent almost 10 years on the road, traveling around Ghana and Burkina Faso singing with a handful of groups and spreading his infectious sound. After his time on the road, he returned to his hometown of Ashanti Mampong in the north of Ghana to form Los Issifu & His Moslems, a collection of musicians who proved to be a true beacon of light in the Afro funk movement. In his time with the group he released a handful of 45′s which to this day are held in high regard and in higher demand. Fortunately enough, the amazing sensibility of Los Issifu’s grooves are the focus of a reissue by the good people at Academy Records and you can order a copy of this marvelous 7″ today via Forced Exposure – click here for more info.

From Forced Exposure:

Starting his career with the Cafe De France Band in 1967, Los Issifu traveled around Ghana and Burkina Faso singing with various groups for almost 10 years before returning to his hometown of Ashanti Mampong in the north of Ghana to form the band heard on this 45. Pulled from his extremely rare Tanga Beat LP, the two songs here are prime examples of the raw, gritty Afro funk that Academy and Voodoo Funk have been issuing in their collaborative 45 series. It doesn’t hurt that ‘Kana Soro’ leads off with a massive break either. As usual, this fully licensed release features vibrant restored sound and artwork derived from the original sources.



Side A:


Side B:
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