Thursday, May 15, 2008

a glimpse at the past

May 15th 2008

I've spent the past days packing all my remaining records into boxes. Some haven't even been cleaned yet and at first I thought I'd never get through it. Moving with a record collection is a pain in the neck, ask any record collector, or better don't and save yourself from having to listen to a bunch of nerdy whining... transatlantic moves are a bitch though, believe me.

Anyway, that's not the reason for me to post. While cleaning up a few records from Benin a couple of days ago, I found a few old photographs that were tucked away in one of the record sleeves. They probably haven't seen the light of day in some 30 years. I was shown old band photographs before when meeting old musicians but I especially love the candid and private nature of these pictures.

Click onto each image for a better view

The first picture shows the Band Poly Rythmo with a few fans, the girl in front has probably the most beaming smile I've ever seen. I really wish I'd know the identity of the tall white mystery man. Someone has drawn a cross onto his chest which is what people do in Benin when someone dies. Friends and family go through all their photo albums and draw a cross onto all images showing the deceased.

Here's our mystery man again, this time he's sitting down with the owner of the Albarika Store label.

Another Poly Rythmo band portrait.

This is my favorite one. I don't really know which band this is. maybe also Poly Rythmo. The man with the (bass?) guitar could be Gustave Bentho. The drummer is not Leopold Yehouessi but Poly Rythmo had several drummers. I guess I'll find out by asking Gustave next time I see him.

I think I'm going to go on one last digging trip, once the container is packed and on its way to NYC. But please don't expect any more mixes anytime soon. My turntables are already packed up...


gavin said...

great photos, interesting custom crossing out the dead on old photos

"I think I'm going to go on one last digging trip..."

Ha, ha, spoken like a true vinyl junkie!

aluvsupreme said...

greetings frank,
first, thank you so much for all that you have shared with us. it has been great going along with you. i must say it leaves me a little bummed that you will be leaving africa soon BUT am excited to know that you willbe in new york and i can go out to hear your music and shake your hand properly.

please keep us posted as to your actions.

best, lem.

Alvis said...

Frank - I'm going to miss your bog in a big way, but all things must come to an end I guess. The music you have unvieled has been a rare gift in a world where the bottom line is everything. Now you are in NY maybe you can hook up with Antibalas in some way. That would be an amazing night out. All the best and thanks again - Alvis

mina said...

good luck on your move! soon i will be relocating to copenhagen and although my record collection is nowhere near as large as yours, i'm sure it will be nerve-wracking. :P

perspixe said...

That smile is indeed beaming. Looks like one of these manga smile, when characters do silly cute things ;)
Nice photos. So when are you flying out? Must be in hype stress. What's up with the dogs?

dubmusic said...

btw; what do you use for cleaning vinyl?

Devil Dick said...

excellent photos!

Frank said...

I usually wash dirty or moldy records in the kitchen sink with tab water and soap. i then wipe them clean with a soft micro fiber cloth in order to not get any residue from evaporated water. Then I put every record on the turntable and clean them with paper towels and distilled water with a generous dash of rubbing alcohol and a small dash of dish washing soap. Whatever can not get removed by this treatment, I try lighter fluid and vinyl cleaning spray (what normal people use to clean the dashboard of their car with).

Thanx for asking about the dogs, Greg. It looks like we have all their vaccination papers in order now. We only wait for the micro chips we need to implant them. Some cyber shit... it's too funny, those dogs were supposed to die in the streets of Conakry and now they get chips implanted in them and before they know it, they'll be promenading around Brooklyn...

kro said...

Well, I guess you will get home sick not too soon after moving to NY (when the stress will fall off). So I imagine you will either sit in a plane and return, or dig through all your pictures and records and make some more of your wonderful mixes to overcome nostalgia :)
So, please keep this blog! It has become a great authentic source of information not only about west african music, but also about people's life and such. (tell me if you need bandwidth)

Best wishes, good luck and happy travelling!

B2V said...

good luck with your stuff Frank ! we all pray for you to have a safe trip back to NYC and once again thanks for enlighting our souls with suche tremendous music.


universoulproductions said...


Always diggin' on the blog. I reference it from time to tim as I'm sure you have noticed.

I wanted to share something special with you as well and hope that if you think it's worthy, you would what you would do for any worthy content.


Appreciate it. Stay up and don't hesitate to holler any time.



Frank said...

Hi Omer,

thanx for pointing me towards this project. This wil be a great record!
Also just visited the site and it definitely seems like a very worthy cause.
I've been going to Philly once every month when I first lived in NY in the late 90s. Always loved the city but it really does have some rough patches... from what I heard from friends, things didn't get much better within the past ten years.
It's a great city and any project that helps to improve the conditions in its tougher parts deserves all the support possible.

Dr. Bell Otus said...

Without doubt, you're absolutely right ... I have around 4.000 vinyl records and I do not know how to bring them in security, from Lisbon to the Azores Islands (in the middle of Atlantic Ocean).
Neither want to talk about this, I feel very badly ... I have to make a decision, because there will already 4 years without having them with me.

Sometimes, when I go to Lisbon, I always wearing some, but is always the feeling of frustration, a feeling that should bring more, but the cost of having most weight in baggage, are nothing inviting.

Well, I do not you boring more with my pain, and I would hope that everything goes well in your life and in your new stage.

A hug from the Azores Islands

Frank said...

Dear Dr. you should think about having wooden shipping boxes built and have your records shipped by boat. That would be the least expensive way.
Make sure to pack a thick layer of old newspapers on tho bottom and along the sides of the boxes as well as on top of the records to absorb any potential humidity.

Good luck!


Hans dB said...

Lovely photos! Takes you back..

Dr. Bell Otus said...

Thanks frank,
I will put the thick layers (old papers or something like a sponge old mattress), to absorb any potencial humidity, and any potencial movement of the boxes or even of the vinyls (you know, a boat is always a boat).

Once again, thank you by answer me.

Cheers from Azores Islands

ian said...

There is probably more than one white guy in west African music. But, could the mystery man be John Collins?

Frank said...

John Collins looked different and I think had long dark hair. Also, he's still alive and nobody would have put crosses on his pictures.