The skies are calling and its time to board our trusty jet for the 5th outing of Africa Seven’s premiere class compilation Africa Airways. For volume 5 its time to brace yourselves for 10 slices of Afro boogie goodness. There’s a slightly different feel to the latest instalment of the fantastic “Africa Airways” compilation series. While previous instalments have largely focused on heavy Afro-funk and Afro-soul, this fifth edition showcases material recorded during the disco and boogie era (1976-82). The ten included tracks are superb, with highlights including the fuzzy, Clavinet-driven thrills of “Sweet Sidney (Edit)” by Black Bells Group, the heavy grooves and dancing synth lines of Gyedu Blay Ambolley’s “Highlife”, the spacey Afro-boogie badness of Fotso’s “French Girl” and the flash-fried disco-funk celebration that is Jide Obe’s spacey, Moog-sporting “Too Young”. As the old cliche goes, this is all killer and no filler.
Eko Roosevelt Louis has had a music career spanning over forty years, born the grandson of a Kribi tribal chief, his musical persuasion beginning humbly with his village’s local church before his formal education at the Senegal conservatoire and Paris’ École Normale de Musique. EKO made a number of jazz funk and disco records in the mid seventies during a stint recording and touring in and around France before returning to Cameroon to take over his grandfather’s tribal chieftaincy, a role he still holds today. Alongside this position of office EKO has continued to work with music, performing, teaching and even leading Cameroon’s national orchestra. The tracks selected for this reissue are all taken from EKO’s third album, Funky Disco Music which was recorded in Paris and released on his own Dragon Phenix imprint. Sung in a combination of English and EKO’s native tongue we’ve lined up a real excursion in feel good afro-jazz, funk and soul made purely for dancing feet and boogying butts.
Following the extremely well received re-press of Pasteur Lappe’s second album “Na Man Pass Man”, Africa Seven are heading back to the beginning with Pasteur. It is a another fine repress. The debut album “We, The People”. The story begins in the 60’s with a charming 19 year old Nicolas “Pasteur” Lappe becoming a sensation on Radio Adele in Douala, Cameroun. He goes on to become the editor of the Douala Gazette newspaper and become friends with other African music stars such as Tala AM, J Moboule and Fela Kuti. He also works tirelessly promoting new and upcoming local Cameroonian talent. After moving to Paris, a stint in journalism school and publishing a book of poems “Chansons Negres” he finally settles into a new life of music in Paris. Pasteur’s first album was recorded in 1979 with the backing band and production collective called the Zulu Gang, which include Douglas Mbida (who went on to release several top flight albums himself) and Jacob Desvariaux (who went on to form Kassav). The album is full of diverse sounds, from driving funk, sweeping disco grooves, syrupy ballads, reggae, Jackson-five-esque pop to finger-lickin’ soul. At its core though is the custom “Sekele” groove… a movement to encompass the dance, grooves and vibes from his native Douala. The nostalgic poet, with Africa at his essence Pasteur Lappe.
It has been 4 years since I made the last ‘review of the year …’ or ‘best of … ‘ list and it was not planned for 2017, but looking back at last year somehow the music scene shifted in a good way. From the music point of view, I think we are living better times now, we can see a revival of the old school electro and acid house, afrobeat is still hot, EBM is going strong.
To date, each volume in Africa Seven’s thrilling Africa Airways compilation series has been little less than essential. It goes without saying that this fourth installment is also exceptionally good. Whereas previous volumes have focused on Afro-funk and “Afro-psych” (think Sly Stone, Nigerian style), this set drills down into African disco-funk released between 1976 and ’83. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the solo-laden, slap bass-boasting bounce of Tala AM’s “Get Up Tchamassi” and Charly Kingson’s squelchy, synth-laden Blaxploitation number “Nimele Bolo”, to the righteous, piano-driven thrills of Kemayo and K-System’s brilliant “Biram” and the superior boogie business of Jake Sollo’s “Tinini Yasana”.
Africa Seven is on fire recently, and this new compilation of rare and untapped material from Cameroon’s Joseph Ekambi Tongo Mpondo has to be the pick of the lot. The talented multi-instrumentalist was famously studying medicine in Paris throughout he 60s, but it’s clear that down the music path was the only sensible option for this man. African Funk Experimentals brings together some of his most obscure material from the years 1968-1982…and some new gear from 2017! Aside from the absolutely killer artwork featuring on the sleeve, this is a ten-track masterpiece, reaching all corners of the afrobeat heritage, while still retaining something very personal and symbolic of Cameroon’s often underrated influence on African funk and boogie.
vinyl / CD
One of the most pivotal figures in the history of Malian music is Sorry Bamba. His work spans five decades and his music bridges the gap between Mali’s cultural traditions and new the music which arose from the musical cross overs which occurred in Mali’s post-Colonial period. Bamba was born in 1938 in Mopti. This is dissected by both the Niger and Bani rivers and known for its rich cultural diversity. Bamba’s father was a distinguished veteran of Emperor Samory Toure’s military and a nobleman in Malian society, however, this meant young Sorry was forbidden to make music, as under the nation’s caste system, music was an art form reserved for the Griots.