Monday, August 14, 2017

Hot Dance Music from Côte d'Ivoire



Popoko (EMI EO173292-4, 1992) is a lively cassette from Ivory Coast by the group Les Woanthios. All I know about them, and the cassette, is this recommendation from the website NATARI:

Absolutely outstanding in every way. This virtually all girl group, whose popularity in the Ivory Coast is second only to 'Woya', are magic through and through. Which isn't surprising as their rich and varied modern dance music has retained its ethnic roots with a great beat, some really lovely guitar and absolutely smashing vocals. Ble Clotilde shines out both on lead guitar and vocals with a style of music that is very different from what you would normally expect from this part of Africa. My favourite tracks are 'Kopka' and 'Damozode' and that was a very difficult choice to make as dance wise 'Popoko' will leave your socks smouldering!
To that I have nothing to add. It's great!

Les Woanthios - Popoko

Les Woanthios - Tropic

Les Woanthios - Kopka

Les Woanthios - Damozode

Les Woanthios - Damozode (Remix)

Les Woanthios - Popoko (Remix)

Download Popoko as a zipped file here.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Speaking of Fújì....



A few days ago I posted an album by King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1, one of the reigning triumvirate of fújì music in the 1980s. The other two were Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Kollington Ayinla, whom I present today. Kollington is said to have been born as Kolawole Ayinla Ilori in Ibadan in 1953 and started recording when he was in the Nigerian Army in the '70s. By the early '80s he was giving Barrister, fújì's acknowledged king at the time, a run for his money. Until Barrister's death in 2010, the rivalry between the two was fierce and acrimonious, although it's an open question how much of this was real and how much was a marketing ploy. Today Kollington swears his undying love of the late, great maestro.

Kollington Live in America 1997 (Oracle Records AFRO 013. 1997) is truly an odd artifact: Fújì music stripped down to its bare, funky essence - organ, basic percussion and wailing Islamic vocals, uninterrupted for 73 minutes! It's very compelling. Here it is:

General Kollington Ayinla & his Fuji Eaglets - Kollington Live in America

Download Kollington Ayinla Live in America 1997 as a zipped file here, complete
with album artwork.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I'm Glad to Be Back!




Unbelievably, my last post here on Likembe was on April 23, 2013 - more than four years ago! There's no one explanation for the hiatus - I've had other interests, other things going on. Thankfully, there have been no personal crises, no major medical issues (and thanks to the many who've inquired over the years for your thoughtful concerns). But I'm back now, and I'm going to try to post on a more consistent basis - at least once a week from now on.

The African music blogosphere has changed a lot in the last four years, mostly not for the better. Old friends - With Comb & RazorOroWorld Service and Electric Jive among others, have gone dormant or post infrequently. Others have disappeared altogether. I see Moos over at Global Groove is still hanging in there, and newer outlets like Mangue MusicMy Passion for Ethiopian Music and Ndiakass have stepped into the breach. Needless to say, none of us is making any money doing this - it's all for the love. Maybe together we can bring about a revival of the African music scene online!
For Likembe's relaunching I'm posting King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1's Consolidation (The Ultimate Music TUMLP 001, 1994)  which was pretty ubiquitous in Lagos, Nigeria during my first visit there in '94 - blaring, it seemed, from every other market stall and taxi. To me, the opening bars of  "Show Colour" will always epitomize that wild, frustrating and fascinating city. I picked up the cassette back then, but the sound quality left a lot to be desired. What should I find, though, during a visit to Dusty Groove in Chicago a couple of months ago, but an almost-new copy of the LP version. Of course I had to share!

The style of music here is fújì, which had its heyday in the Yoruba areas of Nigeria in the 1980s, when it overtook the better-known (in the West) jùjú music popularized by King Sunny Adé and Ebenezer Obey. Fújì derives from earlier Yoruba Muslim styles like àpàlà and like them eschews most non-percussion instruments (although more recent recordings utilize synthesizers and the like). Think of it this way: jùjú musicians are mainly Christian and the music is often influenced by church hyms, while f'újì is performed mainly by Muslims and hearkens back to the sort of music performed at Yoruba Islamic religious festivals. The vocal styles as much as anything else set the two genres apart. But I don't want to create an unnecessary dichotomy here - fújì and jùjú are popular in both communities!

For those interested in further exploring Yoruba Muslim music, I've written two previous posts, "The Alasa of Ibadanland" and "Yoruba Muslim Women's Music."

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 (b. Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Anifowsha, 1957) got his start in the Supreme Fuji Commanders of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, one of the founders of the modern f'újì style in the '70s, and broke out on his own in the early '80s with the confusing moniker Wasiu Ayinde Barrister and a number of smash hit LPs. By the nineties he'd changed his stage name to King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 (later to KWAM I and later still to K1 De Ultimate) and was at the top of his game. He's continued to innovate within the fújì genre, adding new instruments and drawing upon influences like rock and hip-hop. Check out this medley of recent tunes that mostly can barely be described as fújì at all - the percussion section is almost overpowered by saxophone, guitar and synth!



For those interested in exploring further online, the Nigerian media is rife with tales of KWAM 1's acheivements, his controversies with other musicians, and descriptions of his opulent palace in Ijebu Ode, complete with snakes and crocodiles. But for now, let the music speak for itself!

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Show Colour

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Ayinde No Go Die/Consolidation/Cruise Control/Hip-Hop

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Orin Eyo

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Power to the People/Ayinde Lagbade Fun/Late Prince Tunde Ojurongbe/Tulampa/Bosun Olaku of London/Kunle Fayemi/Ade Bendel/Alhaji Rasaq Okoya/Eleganza

Download Consolidation as a zipped file, complete with cover and label art, here.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Dutiful Wife, An Inconsiderate Husband




Despite his great popularity back in the day, information about the late, great Igbo bard Show Promoter (Nelson Ejinduaka) is as scarce as hens' teeth. All I've been able to unearth is that he was from the city of Orlu in Imo State, spent most of his career in Ikwerreland (near Port Harcourt) and apparently passed on some time in the late '80s. His album Azu Alala (Onyeoma CY Records CYLP 043, 1987) is such an outstanding example of traditional Igbo music that I had to share it!

The title track, "Azu Alala" ("Fish is Scarce & Highly Costly"), concerns an obedient wife and the husband who is oblivious to his family's hardship. A husband gave his wife ten naira to go to the market to buy food for the family. She asked him, "Will ten naira be enough?" but he told her, "Make do with what you have."

She went to the market and spent N5 on gari (cassava meal) and N5 on yam. The money was gone. There  was no money for fish, no money to buy oha leaf (greens) or meat.

The wife came home and didn't know what to do. Her children were crying in hunger, "Please give us food." She went to the kitchen to prepare the food. The children ate, and so did she.

In the meantime her husband was down at the restaurant, drinking and living the life of an onye oriri (man about town). He told his friends, "Come home with me. I gave my wife money to prepare food for us." When they arrived home he called out to her to bring out the food she had cooked. The wife began to cry and presented the pitiful repast she had prepared.The man opened the pot to see that there was no fish, no vegetables and no meat. He jumped up and slapped his wife. She cried, "Ego i nyerem ezughi. The money you gave me was not enough to make soup. I managed with what I had to feed our children. Please don't hit me."

The chorus, "Ogiri k'am, jiri shi ofe, azu alala," means "I made the soup with stock.There is no fish."

Show Promoter & his Group - Azu Alala

In "Onye Ma Ihe Echi Gabu (Tomorrow is Pregnant. Who Knows What it will Be?)" Show Promoter sings, "My brother, who knows what tomorrow will bring? My sister, who knows what tomorrow will bring? Everybody pray to God so it will be good for us." He then proceeds to call out various local notables:

Show Promoter & his Group - Onye Ma Ihe Echi Gabu

"Onwu Ashio (The Death of Ashio)" recounts the tragic fate of a man who died in a traffic accident: "Ka mpkuru obi ya nodi nma (May his heart rest in peace). Anyi sikwa ama nnachi, mu na gi bu kwu nwa nne - a go. (We came from one place, you and I, brothers or relatives).Onwu gburu Ashio (The death that killed Ashio). Ashio a hupu la m laa (Ashio left me behind)."

Show Promoter & his Group - Onwu Ashio

Many thanks to my wife Priscilla for translating the lyrics of Azu Alala. You may download it as a zipped file here.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Four Famous Singers



Many many thanks to Andreas Wetter for translating the liner notes of 4 ዝናኞች ሲያዳምጡ በልብዎ ላይ ሰላምና ፍቅር ያገኛሉ - When You Listen to the 4 Famous Singers You Will Find Peace and Love in Your Heart, a really nice cassette issued by Ambassel Music Shop in Ethiopia in 1992.

With the exception of Martha Ashagari, who was featured in a previous post, I've been unable to find out much about these artists, although judging by the number of Youtube videos available online, they're very popular indeed!

የሩቅ ሰው ትዝታ - "Nostalgia for a far person":

Martha Ashagari - Yä-Ruq Säw Təzəta

ነካካኝ - "He Touched Me Somehow" (i.e. We were together and then he left me):

Martha Ashagari - Näkakkaññ

ዳርልን (ባሌ) - "Let Your Child Marry Our Child" - (literally: give your child in marriage for someone of our family, presumably a boy because usually the family of the boy takes the initiative and asks for the girl's hand):

Martha Ashagari & Teshome Asged - Darəllənn (Bale) 

እማዋዬው የለኝ - "I Have No One to Share My Thoughts":

Teshome Asged - Emmawayyew Yälläññ

አትለይኝ - "Don't Leave Me":

Teshome Asged - Attəläyyəññ

ሸጋው ተወልዷል - "A Handsome Has Been Born":

Elias Tababbal - Shäggaw Täwäldwall

ከከዳህው በል ተወው - "If He Betrayed You Leave Him Alone":

Bezawork Asfaw - Kä-Käddahəw Bäl Täwəw

ልብህን ታዘብኩት - "I Found Out What Kind of Man You Are":

Bezawork Asfaw - Ləbbəhən Tazzäbkut

ወሬዋን አምጡልኝ - "Bring Me News About Her":

Elias Tababbal - Wärewan Amṭulləññ

የኔ አለም - "My World":

Elias Tababbal - Y'ne Aläm

ትክክለኛ ኦርጅናሉን ብቻ ያዳምጡ (Listen only to a real original recording)

ዜማ (Music, melody): ዘላለም መኩሪያ (Zelealem Mekuriya), ማርታ አሻጋሪ (Martha Ashagari), ኤልያስ ተባበል (Elias Tababbal), ያየህይራድ አላምረው (Yayerad Alamrew)

ግጥም (Lyrics): ይልማ ገ/አብ (Yilma Gebre-Ab), ያየህይራድ አላምረው (Yayerad Alamrew), ዘላለም መኩሪያ (Zelealem Merkuria), ማርታ አሻጋሪ (Martha Ashagari), ኤልያስ ተባበል (Elias Tababbal)

አሳታሚና አከፋፋይ (Produceer and Distributor): አምባሰል ሙዚቃና ቪዲዮ መደብር (Ambassel Music and Video Shop)

Download Four Famous Singers as a zipped file here.

Note: I have included the Ge'ez font provided by Andreas for the benefit of anyone using an Ethiopic-language search engine. However, depending on your browser and its settings, this may be visible to you as gibberish, or may cause your computer/smart phone to run slowly or even crash. If you have the latter problem, please let me know in the comments and I will rectify the situation immediately!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Double Dose of Dembo




Some years ago Sterns/Earthworks released a CD entitled Roots Rock Guitar Party. I remember thinking at the time: how can you assemble a collection of Zimbabwe's greatest guitarists and not include Leonard Dembo?

I would presume that the only reason Dembo was omitted from this otherwise excellent compilation was a matter of licencing. In the early '90s, he had risen to the pinnacle of the Zimbabwean music scene, only to die prematurely of AIDS in April 1996.

Dembo was born as Kwangwari Gwaindepi in 1959 and gained notice in 1982 as a member of a band called The Outsiders. Disagreements with his band-mates followed, and in 1985 he established Barura Express, which quickly notched a series of hits, notably the 1991 smash "Chitekete," about a young man who wishes to marry a beautiful lady. It is one of the biggest-selling Zimbabwean records of all time and is played at weddings to this day.

The Barura Express cassette The Singles Collection Vol. 2 (Gramma ZC 108) is a singular example of modern African guitar music, notably the opening tune "Zii-Zii," a song about a lover who is far away, whose repetitive motifs evoke a feeling of restrained euphoria:

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Zii-Zii

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dudzai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kodzero

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Hakutane

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Gire

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Sheri Unodada

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Ndipeiwo Pokupotera



The Very Best of Leonard Dembo (Gramma ZC 113), covers some of the same ground, and includes "Chitekete":


Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Shamwari Yangu Warova

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Venenziya

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dudzai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Wada Ne N'anga

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Chitekete

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Manager

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Sharai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Vane Mazita Ngavaremwkedzwe

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Kwedu

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Zii-Zii

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dambudzo

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Murombo

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Hakutane


Read about the Zimbabwean artwork in this post here.

Update: I have been made aware that several of the tracks in this post are available for download through Itunes. Hence the links to them have been removed.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

More Memories of Maneti



A couple of years ago I posted some memorable Muziki wa Dansi, a tribute by Tanzania's Orchestra Vijana Jazz to their departed lead singer Hayati Hemed Maneti. Hayati Maneti (Last Recording) (Ahadi/Flatim AHD (MC) 6018) is another outing dedicated to the great vocalist. The usual caveats regarding recording quality apply:

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Witi Zangu Mnaninyanyasa

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Ngapulila No. 2

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Imani za Uchawi

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Nyongise (Kihehe)

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Heshima ya Mtu

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Siri ya Ndani

Download Hayati Maneti (Last Recording) as a zipped file here. Purely by coincidence, when I logged on this morning I saw that Stefan at WorldService has posted the great Vijana LP Mary Maria here. And if you're looking for still more classic Vijana, Sterns Music's The Koka Koka Sex Battalion: Rumba, Koka Koka & Kamata Sukuma - Music From Tanzania 1975-1980 is highly recommended. The picture at the top of this post is entitled "My Village" and is by a Tanzanian artist named Mkumba. Explore more of his work and that of a number of other excellent East African artists here.