Kanda Bongo Man – Non Stop Non Stop
The world divides into two groups – those who dance and those who don’t. I don’t – though occasionally I do tap my feet. However, if I did dance, I might well play this track by Kanda Bongo Man. It was made for dancing, as are all the tracks on the album Non Stop Non Stop.
The album was put out in the UK in 1990 when the work of several African musicians was being re-packaged and marketed in Europe and North America. The cover shows a young and athletic Kanda Bongo Man throwing some moves to, successfully I imagine, encourage his audience to dance. Recent photos show him looking less athletic but equally enthusiastic in his routines.
This album is still available to purchase – though it is not all that cheap. It would make a brilliant Christmas present for the joyful music and Diblo’s sublime guitar playing.
Kanda Bongo Man – Ida
Apologies, I’m getting slack in my old age. If you want excuses, I have excuses. But only bad ones as I’ve actually been on holiday at Stayathome-by-the-Sea this week. My excuse is that I’ve been busy. I’ve been clearing the garden to prepare for 1. having a new patio laid next week and 2. summer – also due next week!
Anyway, here a week late is the opening track from the Tabu Ley double album. I’ve been playing it a lot over the past few weeks as it is joyous, summery music. However, I have not found it easy to select a track to post as they are all good but in different ways. I have chosen using the default position – if in doubt post track 1. Let’s face it if track 1 (i.e. the track that welcomes you into the album) is no good, the the whole CD is going to be rubbish.
This track isn’t particularly representative of the album or even CD2 but it is an “earworm” and it does feature wah-wah guitar and Tabu Ley whistling. Now that could be a mini series of posts – tracks featuring someone whistling!
Tabu Ley Rochereau – Aon Aon
I’m posting from a double album and so, as is my wont, I’ll post a track from CD1 this week and a track from CD2 next week. The album in question is Tabu Ley Rochereau – The Voice of Lightness Congo Classics 1961 – 1977. (There is a second double album, The Voice of Lightness Volume 2, covering the years 1977-93. If Santa reads this blog and I behave impeccably for the rest of the year, I might be lucky enough to find Volume 2 in my Christmas stocking).
To date, I’ve only listened to my CDs a couple of times through but I can tell you that, if anything, it exceeds my expectations. The sound quality is very good despite a caveat on the sleeve warning of variable quality especially with the early tracks. The vocals are magic, the guitar playing is astounding, the horns are great; in case you can’t guess, I love it. It is the ultimate dance / party music. Play this and defy anyone not to smile.
As with so many of these compilations, especially those put out by Sterns Music, there is an excellent booklet giving details of all the tracks, the bands and their personnel.
Tabu Ley Rochereau – Kelya
Various Artists – The Sound of Kinshasa
As you know, December has been declared a month of African music here. The month started with two tracks from Franco and, over the rest of the month, I plan to post a track from each of the three Original Music albums I own.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Original Music label it was started in the 1980, long before the popularity of World Music, by John Storm Roberts and English born writer, record producer and ethno-musicologist. By unfortunate coincidence, on researching the Original Music label for these posts, I learnt that John Storm Roberts died four weeks ago in New York.
Surprisingly (to me) there is very little information on the Internet about this influential figure but the New York Times published an obituary and froots magazine alerted it’s readers and signposted a 1997 interview.
One of the most important of his books was “Black Music of Two Worlds” which looked at the cross-pollination,in both directions, of African and American music. The CD The Sound of Kinshasa – Guitar Classics from Zaire illustrates this cross-pollination with 14 tracks of Cuban influenced African dance music.
“Included are Zairian classics from the acoustic ’50s to the soukous ’70s, from an example of the great Shaba acoustic tradition and a gorgeous biguine in a forgotten style, to biggies such as OK jazz and early-empire bakuba. Every cut is crème de la crème, and they’re arranged chronologically so you can hear the style grow from acoustic birth to electric maturity two decades later – by which time it was profoundly influencing music all across Black Africa.”
From this album I am posting Mokozi ya Mboka by Orchestra African Jazz.
Orchestra African Jazz – Mokozi ya Mboka
Franco & Le TPOK Jazz – Francophonic – Volume 1
This week, as promised, a track from the second CD of Francophonic Volume 1, a compilation of the early works of Franco & Le TPOK Jazz. I’m sure that you’ll agree, this track has far smoother, more sophisticated sound than On Entre O.K., On Sort K.O., last weeks track.
In the interesting and detailed booklet that accompanies this compilation, Ken Braun of Sterns explains that Liberté, “like most other TPOK Jazz records of the mid-70s (was) recorded at Un Deux Trois, the five-storey club-restaurant-studio-office-apartment complex Franco built in 1974 at an intersection in Matonge, Kinshasa’s notorious nightlife district.
The band would assemble there in the afternoon, collectively work out an arrangement of a new song, play it for the crowd that night, then record it the next day. The Un Deux Trois equipment was little better than basic, but it did allow the ever-expanding band to stretch out. A song could be take one side of a single, carry over to the flip side, fill an EP or appear on an LP.”
And “stretch out” they do on Liberté. Braun says that “they ambled through the introduction for only a minute before mounting an eight-and-a-half-minute crescendo (Ravel’s Bolero Zairean-style)”.
Franco & Le TPOK Jazz – Liberté
Franco & Le TPOK Jazz – Francophonic – Volume 1
As promised, this month all the tracks that I post will be from Africa. This week, and next, we’re in the company of Franco & Le TPOK Jazz.
Last year, Sterns Africa released Francophonic Volume 1, the first of two double CD collections of Franco’s music. The second album, unsurprisingly titled Francophonic Volume 2, was released just a few weeks ago.
This pair of retrospectives style Franco as Africa’s Greatest and I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, despite the received wisdom, I had never been a fan of Franco’s music before buying this album. I’m not sure why. I’d never listened to a complete album before and I made my judgement by catching odd tracks played from time to time on the radio.
When Francophonic Volume 1 was released and got such fabulous reviews, I thought that I would buy it and would surely learn why Franco is held in such regard. It didn’t take too many hearings to appreciate the music and understand how Franco got his reputation as an African superstar.
One thing that I particularly like about this compilation, is that it takes a strictly chronological approach to building the tracks. As a result, you can follow Franco’s musical development. The early tracks are great but relatively unsophisticated. The later tracks, especially on CD2, are much more polished; not better but certainly slicker.
To illustrate the development charted by this album, I’ll post an early recording from the first CD this week and a slicker sounding tune from the second CD next week.
Franco & Le TPOK Jazz – On Entre O.K., On Sort K.O.
Kanda Bongo Man – Non Stop Non Stop
I hope that you enjoy my first African posting. I doubt if many of you have Kanda Bongo Man in your record collection. I think that you will be impressed with the guitar playing of Diblo Dibala.
From the above, rather dry paragraph, you can glean that 1. I’m making good on my promise to post an African track and 2. my Italian classes have started again. This term in Italian we are dipping our toes into the murky waters of the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used a lot in Italian but hardly at all in English these days and so I’m still getting to grips with it. However, I think (hope) that the sentences in the first paragraph each contain “dependent clauses expressing wishes, commands, emotion, possibility, judgement, opinion”.
Enough pedantry, light relief is on offer; just listen to some soukous music from Kanda Bongo Man of the Belgian Congo / Zaire / Democratic Republic of Congo. Soukous, derived from the French word secouer – to shake, is a light African rumba dance music. It is a happy, fluid, infectious music that demands that you dance – or, if you are an Anglo-Saxon male, tap your toes at the very least!
Kanda Bongo Man – Iyole