Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Knocking on Heavens Door

Mulatu Astatke: Yekermo Sew

Great Ethiopian jazz.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Various Artists: Nigeria Special Volume 2 / Nigeria Afrobeat Special

Richard Elliott reviews two Nigerian music compilations Nigeria Special Volume 2 and Nigeria Afrobeat Special.
Nigerian popular music of the 1970s has played a prominent role in the release program of Soundway, the UK-based label run by vinyl archaeologist Miles Cleret that specializes in “lost and forgotten recordings from the world’s most vibrant musical cultures”. The label’s second longplayer, Afro Baby (2004), charted the evolution of the “Afro-Sound” that soundtracked a country reeling from internal conflict in the form of the recent Nigerian-Biafran War and responding to external cultural stimuli in the shape of James Brown’s affirmation of black identity. Shining a light on the lost and forgotten meant looking beyond the (by then) obvious reference point of Fela Kuti towards lesser known marvels such as the Sahara All Stars, the Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination, and Dr Victor Olaiya. 2007 saw the release of Nigeria Special, a double-CD set featuring more Nigerian musical magic from the first half of the 1970s. Soundway 10 and 11, both from 2008, focused on disco/funk and psychedelic rock respectively. These collections, along with Strut’s Nigeria 70 collections, have helped to place this era of Nigerian popular music squarely in the spotlight.
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Friday, July 02, 2010

World Music Charts Europe (Top 20)- July 2010

This month's Chart has a special focus on Colombian music with 4 out of 20 record listed.
1 - Rise and Shine / Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars / Sierra Leone
2 - Djitoumou / Idrissa Soumaoro / Mali/France
3 - Oro / Choc Quib Town / Colombia
4 - Mambo Ska / Ska Cubano / UK/Cuba
5 - Assume Crash Position / Konono No.1 / Dem.Rep.Congo
6 - Listen To The Banned / Various Artists
7 - Chopin On 5 Continents / Maria Pomianowska and Friends / Poland
8 - Once Upon A Time In Senegal / Etoile de Dakar feat. Youssou N'Dour / Senegal
9 - Palenque Palenque Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots In Colombia / Various Artists / Colombia
10 - Fantasiatango / Johanna Juhola / Finland
11 - Yes We Can - Songs About Leaving Africa / Various Artists
12 - Ghalia Benali Sings Om Kalthoum / Ghalia Benali / Tunisia
13 - Tango 3.0 / Gotan Project / France
14 - Momentos / Dulce Pontes / Portugal
15 - Al-Maraya / Al Andaluz Project / Germany/Spain
16 - Türlü / Haci Tekbilek / Turkey
17 - Hands / Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela / USA/Spain
18 - Cumbia Bestial / Various Artists / Colombia
19 - Mambo Loco / Anibal Velasquez y su Conjunto / Colombia
20 - Sidiba / Bako Dagnon / Mali

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Ska Cubano: Mambo Ska

Mark Hudson reviews Ska Cubano's Mambo Ska.
Whether by design or happy accident, this North London-based combo tap into the current vogue for vintage Colombian sounds, injecting their trademark Cuban flavoured ska with pumping cumbia grooves and wailing clarinet redolent of old Bogota.
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Africa 70's and Colombian Sound Systems

Sean O'Hagan reviews two compilations: The World Ends: Afro-rock and Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria and Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots in Colombia 1975-91.
Next month, Soundway Records, a small, independent British label, releases its latest compilation, a two-CD (or two triple vinyl albums) package called The World Ends: Afro-rock and Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria. It is an extraordinary artefact: track after track of Afro-rock and spaced-out funk from groups including the Hygrades, the Funkees, the Hykkers and the Thermometers.

The World Ends, according to Soundway, "represents a forgotten chapter in Nigeria's musical history". That period coincided with the Biafran war, which started in 1967, just as America and Britain were celebrating the so-called summer of love. For young, hip Nigerians, the electric guitar was the symbol of all things new and vibrant, and the psychedelic sounds filtering out from San Francisco and London were the template for a hybrid sound that spoke only of the future. It has taken four decades for those sounds to be excavated, re-pressed from the vinyl, and marketed to a new audience.
Recently, Soundway released a compilation called Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots in Colombia 1975-91. It, too, is a thing of raw and wondrous beauty, collecting some of the psychedelic-influenced Afro-Latin tracks favoured by local Colombian sound systems working out of Cartagena and Barranquilla in the 70s and 80s. Again, a comparison with Jamaica holds, because the DJs and selectors drew huge crowds of feverishly local supporters, just like their counterparts in Kingston.

Today, young British DJs continue to play and disseminate this rare music from Africa and Latin America, though often it's remixed for contemporary audiences. This forgotten jazz-funk-soul-psych-rock music has now found a new fan base among British and American club audiences, whose previous encounter with this sort of thing might only have come through the African-tinged rock of Vampire Weekend. The band Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, from Benin, saw their 70s output issued by Soundway and Analog Africa, which led to recent UK tour dates. In pop music, everything, even the most obscure sounds, comes around again in one way or another.
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Rough Guide to the Music of Russian Gypsies

Michael Church reviews Rough Guide to the Music of Russian Gypsies.
"Russian Romance" has a fascinating history, having been a staple of both Russian and Russian-gypsy cultures for two centuries, and having had a big boost from the Soviets.
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