Jun 28, 2009
Masekela’s penchant for finding mainstream avenues of expression in America, while retaining African sensibilities, has reached highs and lows over his four-decade career. While much of the music he created for larger audiences ended up unfortunately sterile, The Chisa Years marks a man in his youthful prime, unconcerned about marketing or charts. That it took so long to surface is too bad, but the fact that it has at all is cause for celebration.
Jun 27, 2009
From the vaults of Daptone Records comes a collection of unreleased tracks from the infamous Budos Band. Recorded after The Budos Band I sessions, but before those for the second full-length, The Budos Band EP is a fascinating glimpse into the group's evolution as musicians and recording artists.
Listeners may be familiar with two songs previously released and universally recognized as “Budos classics." “The Proposition," a hit single released on 7-inch by Daptone Records, incorporates the style, now known worldwide as Budos swing, responsible for drawing so many a listener onto the sweaty dancefloor. “Mas O Menos," included on the band's smash album, The Budos Band II, exemplifies the group's feel for soul with its infectious bass, tightly intertwined guitar and organ, and soaring horns.
“Smoke Gets In," created on the anniversary of the six hundred sixty-sixth rotation of the Budonian lunar calendar, finds the band returning to its dusty roots, and it is both sonically and literally otherworldly. The psycho-tropic venom found on The Budos Band II may have originated in this very session.
The Budos Band EP is a must-have for Budos and Daptone fans alike. It stands as a vital account of the band's movement between musical styles and records a singular moment in the group's existence. It will indeed stand the test of time and remain a bedrock of Budos lore.
Generally speaking, if you like The Budos Band I and II, you surely gonna like this stuff as well, therefore, I just can recommend it to everyone outside there interested in some powerful tones ...
1. Hidden Hand
2. Mas O Menos
3. The Proposition
5. Nobody's Bulletproof
6. Smoke Gets In
7. Bonus Track
Jun 25, 2009
A fantastic and ultra-unknown Manu Dibango soundtrack to the equally obscure independent mid-70s movie «Countdown at Kusini.
«Manu Dibango is one of the original fathers of the Afro-funk scene. His huge worldwide hit 'Soul Makossa' paved the way for artists such as Fela Kuti and Hugh Masekela. This rare soundtrack was produced in tiny quantities for the premiere of the obscure Ossie Davis movie in Seattle in August 1975. Each album is individually numbered, and signed by the cast. It's a superb blend of African rhythms, jazz, and a heavy dose of space jazz and funk. There are too many good tracks to mention, from uptempo dancefloor cuts to slower mellow numbers, all featuring Manu's superb sax playing.»
Cameroon , 1975
01. Go Slow Streets
03. Promenade (Kusini)
04. Bokolo's Boogie
05. Jam Session
08. Lea's Love Theme
09. Blowin' Western Mind
10. Liberation's Song
11. Red Salter
Jun 22, 2009
Femi Kuti: Live at the Shrine shows the Nigerian Afrobeat star in his element: preparing and performing his songs at the New Afrika Shrine, the dance hall and community center built by Femi to honor his father, Fela. Femi’s late father, Fela Kuti, famous for inventing Afrobeat, was also renowned for his political stance against corruption and capitalism — and for his womanizing. In Dutch director Raphaël Frydman’s collection of songs and interviews with Fela’s son, a man takes his role as a musician and famous person to heart. Fela is central to his community of family and musicians, friends and fans, always at work to better himself or the situation for people around him.
With a stage full of musicians and dancers, Kuti’s energetic Sunday night “jumps,” as the shows are called, attract locals and people from all over Africa and beyond. Live at the Shrine intersperses these concert sequences with interviews with Femi, members of his band, his sisters, fans, and scenes of street life. When he is not performing, we find Femi focused on practicing, playing endless scales on his trumpet, dancing, smoking, singing constantly.
I know descriptors like “desperate poverty” and “war-torn nation” have become journalist boilerplate, but they fit Nigeria all too well. The idealistic and committed younger Kuti declares that Nigerians can’t really call themselves independent if they can’t get electricity and water consistently and continually have to beg other countries for aid. In fact, a running theme in the interviews with him and his sisters and fans is that there are no lights. Instead of accepting this imposition, Femi takes responsibility for the obligations he feels his fame has placed on him. He works at his gift, music, to send out the word about conditions in Africa. He sets about every task without assuming for one minute that anything should come easily.
To me, Femi Kuti’s songs sound preachy and overly political. Kuti’s lyrics only transport me from the worries of my own day-to-day existence right into someone else’s fears. In the context of Femi’s life in Lagos, however, what else could these songs be? He could sing about romantic troubles, but instead he voices his take on Africans and their oppression, by their circumstances and by their choices as well.
Fans of Femi Kuti will appreciate the series of bonus interviews in which he discusses his political beliefs, history, and explains the origins and lyrics of some of his songs. Kuti’s songs are more compelling than his interviews, however; he often seems impatient to get back to his music. (I found it useful to turn on the English subtitles and fast-forward to read the text of the interviews.) For those who want more context, a booklet included with the DVD provides song lyrics and some historical background.SOURCE
An unprecedented collection by Afrobeat legend Femi Kuti, Live At The Shrine includes both a concert film/DVD documentary and a live concert CD, singularly conveying the beauty and joy of Afrobeat music – a combustible cocktail fusing jazz, funk, and traditional African music – while also communicating it’s fascinating roots and politics which began with Femi’s father Fela Kuti, the creator and godfather of Afrobeat.
Live At The Shrine takes place in the Kuti family’s hometown of Lagos at the Africa Shrine, where every Sunday Femi plays to a packed house of revelers. With music as his weapon of choice and the Africa Shrine a temple of protest song, Femi continues his father’s fight, railing against the corrupt Nigerian government and staunchly defending PanAfricanism. Capturing this experience through interviews, street scenes, and the music itself, Live At The Shrine captures the spirit, passion, and hope, of a man and a people who are fighting.
One of the most innovative and pioneering musicians of his time, Orlando Julius made an amazing contribution to the Nigerian music between the sixties and the seventies. This collection includes "Super Afro Soul" with Orlando Julius & his Modern Aces, and "Orlando's Afro Ideas 1969-72" by Orlando Julius & his Afro Sounders. A mind-blowing mix of Nigerian Highlife style with Jazz, Soul, and Funk.
On "Super Afro Soul" you can hear the early musical tremors. It was Orlando’s first album, released in 1966, a head on collision between Highlife - the soundtrack of Independence first in Ghana and then in neighbouring Nigeria (the music of West African political/social aspiration at that time ,‘the successful africanisation of a western structure’ as Prof. John Collins says ) - and ‘60’s Soul from the USA , the soundtrack of Afro-America’s struggle for civil rights and equality . While Fela Kuti’s Koola Lobitos was experimenting with highlife and jazz with little response from Lagos youth, still 4 years and a spell in Los Angeles from creating Afrobeat, Orlando Julius unleashed this pioneering Highlife Soul gem and Lagos clubs resounded to the new sound.
Orlando (some say he borrowed that name from Nigerian film actor, Orlando Martins) Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode started life in 1943 in Ijebu-Ijesha in the Osun state of Nigeria. His first instruments were drums and later flute at school, and then he discovered his favourite instrument, the alto-sax, which he studied for two years before he joined local highlife heroes, the Flamingo Dandies of Akure. Highlife was the breaking wave and he surfed it, an unstoppable talent. At 19 he even briefly became leader of Juju music star I.K. Dairo’s Dance Band, for a short time, but then he returned to Highlife heaven with Eddy Okunta’s Top Ace band in Lagos, and immersed himself in highlife and the jazz of Parker and Coltrane. He also traced his musical journey through the ‘Kokoma’ beats. ‘I used to follow the priests and worshippers to where they performed their traditional worship; from there I picked up ‘Kokoma’ music.’ In 1964 he formed his Modern Aces and on their first massive hit single, Jagua Nana, released in October 1965, you can hear that he had married conga, bongos and the Agigdigbo of Kokoma with the sax into his beats. It took the country by storm and spawned a host of evolving sensual wriggles and def dance steps in the clubs. Three more singles followed, Topless (for a while he was ‘The Topless Man’), Ololufe and E Se Re Re.
Around this time, his two musical obsessions, jazz and highlife, were joined by a third, as the airwaves filled with the sounds of ‘60’s soul from the USA: Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Otis Redding, Motown, Stax, Atlantic…and his Modern Aces became one of the very first in Nigeria to forge new directions with traditional highlife, alongside Fela’s Koola Lobitos, with whom he shared band members. On this first album, Super Afro Soul, released by PolyGram in 1966 in the triumphant wake of his hit singles , its clear that he’d caught the soul bug but he was going to play it his way. Lagos transforms the Memphis Soul Stew! Check his unique cover of Smokey’s My Girl, the James Brown ‘echoes’ in Ijo Soul. the Stax like brass riffs and dominant bass throughout the album…but the highlife and kokoma is never far away.
Orlando recorded three albums for PolyGram in Lagos. Orlando’s Idea and Ishe followed Super Afro Soul , each evolving its own sound, along with the changes that were happening on the Lagos music scene. ORLANDO’S AFRO IDEAS 1969-72 is a compilation of some of these tracks.
The outrageously successful arrival of Geraldo Pino and the Heartbeats from Sierra Leone with their soul covers, tight choreography, slick costumes and expensive new sound system upped the ante for every band. The Lagos scene countered. Fela Kuti announced the creation of a new sound Afrobeat and then left for a tour of the USA which would keep him away from Lagos.
Orlando Julius - Super Afro Soul
Orlando Julius - Orlando´s Afro Ideas 1969-1972
Orlando Julius - Afro Soul
Jun 20, 2009
Pino’s proto-Afrobeat echoed the cultural preoccupations of the time – Black Power, African Unity, Heavy Vibes.
Gerald Pine formed the Heartbeats in Freetown in 1960/61 as a pop band playing cover versions of British and American hit songs, although they soon adapted to the influence of pachanga, tcha tcha tcha and rumba music from the Congo, notably that international blend supplied by Ryco Jazz (see RETRO10CD) who were touring the West Africa region. As the latin influences grew, so Gerald Pine evolved into the more exotic sounding Geraldo Pino, although it was as a champion of American style funk that he made his mark. Pino made a deep and lasting impression on that iconoclastic figure Fela Anikulapo Kuti (then still known by his family name of Ransome Kuti). As Fela told the author Carlos Moore in his 1982 biography:
"I was playing highlife jazz when Geraldo Pino came to town in '66 or a bit earlier with soul. That's what upset everything, man. He came to town with James Brown's music, singing, "Hey, hey, I feel all right, ta, ta, ta, ta. . . " And with such equipment you've never seen, man. This man was tearing Lagos to pieces. Wooooooooh, man. He had all Nigeria in his pocket. Made me fall right on my ass, man. Ahhhhhh, this Sierra Leonean guy was too much. Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone. I'll never forget him. I never heard this kind of music before-o, I'm telling you. Only when I went to Ghana shortly after that did I hear music like that again, soul music. Shit! If you could have seen him, man. And his equipment . . . something else!
Pino’s party grooves and the Funk Imperative which underlines his musical philosophy make these dance tracks sound just as vital today as they did back then.
Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats - Afro Coco Soul Live
Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats - Let´s have a party
Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats - Heavy Heavy Heavy
SIGN THE PETITION!!!
To: the Governor of Lagos and the Nigeria’s Minister of Justice
THE NEW AFRIKA SHRINE, NIGERIA’S LAST BASTION OF LIBERTY, CLOSED BY THE AUTHORITIES
Throughout Africa today there are many western-style theatres, mainly built by the Chinese, Africa’s latest colonizers-in-waiting. But only rarely are they administered and operated as cultural centres, open and accessible to anyone other than the bourgeois minority in their SUV’s and Mercedes limos.
A notable exception to this rule existed in Lagos Nigeria until last week, that is, when it was forcibly closed by the authorities giving less than 24 hours notice and claiming “noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic” as their justification.
The New Afrika Shrine was built and operated by Femi and Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, the eldest son and daughter of cultural icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who built the original Shrine in the seventies, which endured until shortly after his death in 1997 when it, too, was forcibly closed by the Nigerian authorities.
Both the old and new Shrines were much more than just music venues. They were a refuge for the homeless and dispossessed, acted as a focal point for dissent and were consequently a thorn in the flesh of the ruling elite. Fela used the stage to launch eloquently savage diatribes against the corruption and mismanagement that was rife in Nigeria, one of the world’s leading oil producing countries, and was a hero to millions for the biting, non-compromising social commentary contained within his lyrics. In the seventies and eighties people flocked to the Shrine to hear Fela’s latest harangue of the country’s leaders and marvel at the powerful music and spectacle produced by his singers, dancers and musicians. Millions, not just in Nigeria but across the African continent, bought his albums and his tours in Europe and America attracted huge audiences.
Fela paid the price for his brutally frank and widely publicized condemnations of the government and his fierce defense of human rights by being constantly harassed, arrested (more than 200 times) and often savagely beaten, none of which ever diminished the continuing force of his attacks.
Following his death and the forced closure of his beloved Shrine, Femi and Yeni resolved to re-build an even bigger venue on a nearby site and used their share of income from the global sale of Fela’s albums with which to do so. They were determined to maintain their Father’s legacy and considered the heritage of shelter, support and advocacy as being the most valuable contributions they could make towards the development and creation of a united and democratic African republic.
Against all the odds, and despite constant harassment from the authorities, they have successfully continued to the Shrine open for almost a decade and have developed a large and faithful following, as well as providing an effective refuge for disaffected youth and the dissemination of preventive information in defense against the Aids pandemic. Femi and his band, The Positive Force, have graced the stage and kept alive the spirit of dissent and social commentary as the backbone of his work. He and Yeni have acted as host to the ever-increasing number of world-renowned artists who have made the pilgrimage to the Shrine and participated in the Felabrations which take place each year on the anniversary of Fela’s birthday. Despite the global recognition of the Kuti family (a musical about Fela is about open on Broadway and a Hollywood film is being made of Fela’s life and work) and their work as three generations of social reformers, the authorities have maintained their opposition and have taken every opportunity to obstruct the continued operation of The Shrine. This has included countless raids, often in the middle of the night, including beatings and harassment of the many homeless youth who seek shelter there, now once again exposed to the elements.
Now, of course, The Shrine is closed, according to the authorities, permanently. However, after making this pronouncement in writing just a few days ago, they have this morning stated that it may re-open tomorrow. This can, alas, not be viewed as any kind of victory. On the contrary, that a ‘permanent’ closure can be turned around in less than a week only shows that their decision-making process is completely arbitrary. This cat and mouse game, which has been going on for almost four decades must come to an end. When Fela died, the upper echelons of Nigerian government sent letters to the family that were not simply expressions of condolence but were eloquent testimonials to a great man. The present authorities must finally admit that Fela Anikulapo Kuti is Nigeria’s best loved son and accept the earnest request made by the Executors of Fela’s Estate, Yeni, Femi and Kunle Anikulapo Kuti, to:
1. Once and for all end hostilities and harassment.
2. Permanently re-open the Shrine
3. Create the necessary decree to establish and maintain The New Afrika Shrine as a National Heritage Site in recognition of the invaluable contribution made by the Kuti family to the cultural life of the nation.
To assist this process and make clear to the Nigerian authorities that the Kutis, for almost a century have enjoyed the respect and admiration of not just Nigerians or even Africans, but people of conscience around the world, please add your signature to this petition in support of this proposal, to be forwarded to the Governor of Lagos and to Nigeria’s Minister of Justice.
2nd June 2009