March 4th 2008
Here's a new mix with the exploits from my latest trip to Ghana. Next week I'm off again to Guinea's forest region and the entire month of April will be spent digging up vinyl in Ghana, Togo and Benin. This means that there probably won't be any new posts until early in May...
The traffic on this blog has increased quite a lot in recent weeks, as a result, my friend Rainer had his site temporarily taken down by his server because all the downloads from this blog were drasticaly exceeding his bandwith limit... due to life saving efforts from Greg and Cyril, everything's up and running again.
I wouldn't be able to post any mixes without the help of my friends!
Click the image below to listen:
02:48 Amoah Azangeo - gbeka sane
05:44 K. Frimpong - me yee owu den
14:54 Destruction Nkengas - jungle beat
21:00 Marijata - we live in peace
25:00 Kelenkye Band - brotherhood of man
29:00 Waza Afriko '76 - ke oda
33:52 Dan Boadi - money - root of evil
44:10 Eddy Pollo - money
50:40 Sidiku Buari - disco soccer
Just two mixes ago, we had Benin's Super Star de Ouidah opening up with their version of "feeling you got". There's also another cover version of this song done by El Rego. On my last trip to Ghana, I finally found the original recording of this track by the Super Eagles. This group from the Gambia recorded a series of 45s on the Ghana Film label in Accra and later on moved to Mali as far as I know. This scorcher of a funky Soul track that was recorded in 1968 reminds me a bit of Dyke & the Blazers. Sorry about all that noise and crackle, this 45 really is in extreme rough shape but the sheer power of those drums and the emotional impact of the vocals still shine through and I won't even hesitate to play this hammered piece of vinyl for a dance floor. But just in case if anybody out there has a clean copy, please get in touch with me, I have loads of stuff for trade!
The next track by Amoah Azangeo on the other hand probably wouldn't be club material. This blistering piece of Afrobeat clearly suffers by the probable fact that it was recorded with only one microphone. This in itself wouldn't necessarily have caused much harm but then someone had the strange idea to place a guy with a shakera right in front of the mic and told him to give it all he's got... after a couple of listens though, I kinda like this recording the way it is. The occasional complete disregard for any conventions is just one of the aspects that make African music so truly amazing.
When I traveled to Kumasi, I met this one record store owner who let me go through his entire stash of a couple of thousand records. The first handful LPs I grabbed contained a copy of the Sweet Talks Kussum Beat album. I pulled out the record only to realize that it's broken. A big chunk of vinyl was missing. This almost brought tears to my eyes. After hours of sifting through stacks and stacks of records, I approached the owner just to hear him say: "Well now let's see which ones of these I can sell...". Almost all of the records were potential doubles for my collection so I figured the damage won't be too big either way until dear Mr. Gyasi decided to not sell me a single one of those records. Goddamn! It all wouldn't have been a big deal if not for this one K. Frimpong LP which I had never seen before and that -as I found out while listening to it on my portable turntable -had one monster Afrobeat track on it. I pleaded with this man for a couple of hours but nothing would convince him, not even the most ridiculous amounts of money offered.
One week later, back in Accra, I visited a man named Kongo who had said he had located a few records for me. I stepped into his house and on the floor in front of me was another copy of the Sweet Talks' Kussum Beat. I was stunned and slowly bent down to pick it up when Komgo said "No, no, that's nothing, that's none of those records I was talking about, -this is just something that has been lying around the house forever". I told him that this was a great, great record and when I lifted it from the floor, I noticed that Kongo had used it to hide a big stash of Ganja from plain view. The Vinyl was in excellent shape and I said "Kongo, this is going to get you some serious cash". I carefully placed the record onto the bed next to us when someone knocked at the door. Kongo opened and in came two kids with a bunch of scratched up, coverless LPs. Mostly western stuff like Michael Jackson and Boney M. (Boney M must have swept the entire planet like a plague, there doesn't seem a single place on earth where you won't find their records, -thank god no-one seems to know that they were from Germany, we're already stigmatized enough...). I was disappointed and explained the kids what kind of stuff I was looking for. They listened carefully and before I could react sat down on the bed. I heard the ugly sound of breaking vinyl and let out a loud scream "Noooo! No! This can't be fucking happening!". Both guys jumped up stunned by my sudden outburst and where the one closest to me had sat, I picked up the Kussum Beat album and pulled the vinyl out of the sleeve only to confirm that it was completely split in two. There is only that much pain a man can bare and I went back to the hotel where I got seriously drunk on way too many Star beers.
The next morning, Kongo called me up to tell me that he had managed to find me another copy of the broken record. I jumped into a cab and arriving at his house was confronted with a big stack of records that not only contained the Sweet Talks LP but also a clean copy of the K.Frimpong record that Mr. Gyasi back in Kumasi had refused to sell me. the third track on this mix, "me yee owu den" is from this record.
I didn't include any tracks from said Sweet Talks LP on this mix although this record has three strong Afrobeat tracks. But one was already included in my mix ""Big Beats, Sweet Talks & Psychedelic Aliens"" and the other two are featured on Soundway Record's Ghana Soundz Compilations Vol1&2. I'm sure you all already own those, right?
"jungle beat" by the Destruction Nkengas comes up next. I think it's the same group as the Ikenga Super Stars who recorded a ton of rather bland Hi-Life records and only one more Afrobeat record also featured on the "feeling you got" mix.
It was also on this last trip that I managed to find another copy of the blue Marijata LP. This one is perfectly clean and unscratched on both sides. I included "we live in peace" on this mix. "no condition is permanent" from Soundways' Ghana Soundz compilation is from this same record along with "break through" which was included on the "this hustling world" making this one of the strongest African Funk records of all time with a total of 3 killer dance floor tracks.
"brotherhood of man" by the Kelenkye Band comes up next. This copy is in better shape than my first one but still quite noisy... sorry!
Waza Afriko '76 brought out an LP that had two editions, each one with an entirely different cover. They managed to fool me, I already had thought I found their second album. Back home I had to realize that this is exactly the same one I already had. "ke oda" is their strongest track. You have to love those banging drums.
Dan Boadis' "money - root of evil" from his (if it's true) in Chicago produced record leads us further into the 70's and Eddy Pollo continues not only the theme about the evils of money but also the trend towards slicker sounding 70's Funk.
Sidiku Buari and his epical "disco soccer" ends this mix. Sidiku wants you to believe that this track was recorded live in NYC. As the football arena like crowd noise and Sidiku's announcements and crowd reactions at the end illustrate, he must have been quite a star in New York. He takes things even further on the cover sleeve where he poses in a phantasy navy uniform carrying a small plastic toy machine squirt gun. The liner notes claim that Janet Jackson did the backing vocals and his bass player Ken Williams is listed under a picture of Carlos Santana... maybe a cameo?
In any case a true piece of art and a prime example for African bullshitting at its best.
Now if I'd only know what Kalabule Medicine is.
As with all pictures on this blog: Click on it for a better view: