Wednesday, June 18, 2008

last digging trip to Accra (for now...)

June 18th 2008

Once the city of Conakry had calmed down after the army mutiny, I left on my last digging trip to Accra where I got to look through two private record collections. I only stayed for 6 days but amazingly enough, this turned out to be not only my shortest but also most successful single digging trip ever. I'm only posting records that I didn't have before, otherwise it would simply be too much. Not only did I find doubles of all Marijata LPs, Kelenkye Band, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Star Time Aziza, SJOB Movement, Kusum Beat, Ebo Taylor and various K. Frimpong LPs, almost everything was in excellent condition. Except the Monomono Vol.2, this one plays with a bit of noise so if anyone out there has a clean copy for trade, let me now.

I'm super excited about some of these records as they are either ones I've been trying to find for a long time or (even better) stuff I didn't know existed. I promise to make new mixes as soon as I'm reunited with my turntables in NYC next month. One thing is for sure, I'll be back before long. I'm already looking into flights from NYC to Lagos and Accra.

Click on image for better view

The most exciting part were the 45s. Most notably the 3 (!) by Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, some really nice Ebo Taylor stuff, a couple of very rare Fela Kuti singles and the two Segun Bucknor 45s. Also the four very heavy tracks by the Cutlass Band and some super funky stuff on the obscure Sole label. Every 45 pictured here is Funk or Afrobeat. I also found some really deep Highlife records but we'll get to those later.

In the end I had to stuff my entire luggage with vinyl. There was no room for anything else, I had to leave behind my all my toiletry and wear three pair of socks, three pairs of boxers, two pairs of pants and three shirts all at once. I looked pretty damn stupid and sweated like a pig.

When I arrived back in Conakry, the country was in the middle of an unanounced police strike and immediately after my arrival, the airport was shut down. What followed was a day of heavy shooting between the police and the military. Right now, everything seems quiet again but it's still too dangerous to go out after dark. Come evening time, I just sit on the terrace in front of the now empty house, listen to records on the portable turntable and get drunk on the last remaining bottles of cuban rum. Only 8 days left until my departure. The airport has re-opened but most airlines have changed their schedule to arrival and departure during the day instead of like before at night because there is still some sporadic shooting after dark. More and more foreigners are leaving the country and there is widespread fear and resignation that the situation can only further deteriorate from here, the only question remaining is at what speed. It is also very strange that since a few days now, none of the three internet cafes in my area can manage to connect to the web. The employees at all three places claim that there is some weird interference. I'll try the big internet cafe downtown tomorrow to get this post online. New York will seem like such a calm and quiet place after all this craziness.

On the other hand, I won't be able to grow pineapples in front of my porch.


Neu Mejican said...

Nice haul...I love what I have heard from Edzayawa...a true find among many other excellent records.

Happy travels

Aristizzle said...

Just amazing, especially the 45s you managed to acquire. It's also interesting that this blog has turned into the only sort of journalist reporting to the west on that region what with all the attention being paid Zimbabwe and South Africa. So you've been doing a double service (musical and informative social and political) right up to the end. Thanks, thanks, thanks! Can't wait for the new post.

Anonymous said...

Now this is what I call traveling!!!! Congrats.

quote "In the end I had to stuff my entire luggage with vinyl. There was no room for anything else, I had to leave behind my all my toiletry and wear three pair of socks, three pairs of boxers, two pairs of pants and three shirts all at once. I looked pretty damn stupid and sweated like a pig."

mina said...

wow, what a find!! me and some friends are especially shocked to see edzayawa scan since we have been questing for it a while... please do post that if you get the chance; it would be enjoyed by many of us!

most importantly, have a safe and easy trip home. (:

Joe said...

Wow. Quite a cache of records there. I'd be interested to hear some data from the Cocoa Research Band.

Those hand-written labels--are those 45s whose labels fell off and were replaced with a makeshift sticker, or did they never have a professionally printed label?

brooos said...

I've enjoyed this blog for some time now, but I had to comment when I saw you'd found the Cutlass Dance band LP. I spent a few weeks in Ghana back at the end of 2004, mostly playing and recording Ewe drummers in small villages, but I did spend a few days in Accra, where I scored a small but potent handful of vinyl, including the Cutlass LP. That song, "Suluu Ye De" is pretty insane. Anyhow, thanks for sharing all the great stories and, of course, the music.

Nicki said...

Simply incredible: the finds, your journey, the deteriorating state of the country. Makes West Philadelphia also seem amazingly calm. Godspeed.

hideo said...

glad you made it out with all your "faculties intact".

looking forward to hearing some of your hard-sought treasures

Frank said...

the white-labels are only two examples of promo copies I found. Cocoa Research Band & Edzayawa will both be included on the next mix which will have to wait a while due to moving issues...

Anonymous said...

Frank -

Thank you for this blog. It is fantastic - please never take it down. Hope to see you at APT in NYC on the 12th. Have some Jamaican rum for a change.

And no late night scooter rides in Manhattan.


Flengs said...

Hi Frank!

Happy to see you found a record of One World! It is one of my favorite bands! I don't know this cover though, and am under the impression that it is the one that I don't know. I know of 'Peace' and 'This baby is mine'. Can you fill me in on the details of the record you have? Does it feature a track called 'Fantasy'? Are the track killer? You must be busy moving on the moment, good luck!

Cheers and thanks for keeping the blog running,

Frank H

Flengs said...

Pity I can't be there in NY the 12th, as for the moment I am busy moving back into China from neighboring countries. They are giving me so many problems that I might change my mind though :-) Have a good one there!!!

Frank said...

Hey Flengs,

Tracklist of the One World LP is:

-the movement
-please let me know
-I'm a loser
-pretty lizzy

-peace is the word
-apologise to her
-you need love
-happy people

as far as I remembered it, it sounded a bit like the first Ofege but a bit funkier. I arrived in NYC a day and a half ago am still waiting for the container from Africa to get here which means even though I had sent the last haul of records from Ghana with air cargo that has already arrived here half a day ago, I'm still without turntables as they're in another container on a boat somewhere on the Atlantic... good luck in China!

Anonymous said...

hi frank your site is wild ......kofi accra

Frank said...

Hey Kofi,

is this you?
Please drop me an email.
I'd still be very much into putting up a siye for you!

Please get in touch

Swoop said...

Hey Frank!

First of all, thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge about afro-funk. I discovered this music not long ago with the ghana sounds compilations and it drives me mad! So I'm really happy to find a blog about afro beat and afro funk!
It's impressive to see somebody taking digging trips like that! When is the documentary about your trip coming out?

I'm going to visit my mother in Accra in a few weeks and I'd like to know if there are some place you could tell me to go to to find records or is it all about private collections?

I hope you can help me out there 'cause last time I went there I didn't find a lot but I'm sure I didn't look well...



Frank said...

Hi Elliot,

the documentray is still in the process of being edited. the film maker has applied for funding or sponsoring at several places to get the money to hire a professional editor so the time frame from now on kinda depends on how that goes, I guess.

I can't give you any specific suggestions where to look for records in Accra, I have found a few things there during my first couple of trips but all of the latest finds were records that people found for me by travelling through the interior of the country. To find good stuff is very hard and takes a lot of time, so don't get discouraged too quickly!

Let me know how it went when you get back.

have fun!


Swoop said...

Hi Frank!

Thanks anyway! I'll try to find people collections which I can browse...

I finally go there in October I think; I'll tell you how it went!