Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Freedom Family album out now!

This record might not have been re-issued without this blog. It was Albert Jones, lead vocalist and band leader of the Freedom Family who one day sent me an email, saying how surprised he was to have found some of his old music on this site.

Only a few months later, Albert was on a plane to NYC. We spent an entire week, sitting on my balcony and writing the liner notes to this record. Previously there had been no information available about this band and I was stunned to hear that the Freedom Family was in fact the same band that had played on both, the first and second Geraldo Pino album. This was not the last time that my mind was blown, Albert's incredibly vivid memory revealed one surprise after the other. I found myself moved, entertained and educated, savoring every hour of every day we got to spend together.

On the Saturday of that week, I had a dj party at the now sadly defunct Southpaw Nightclub. Albert came along and his joy of hearing all of these records, many of which were the soundtrack of his earlier adult life seemed palpable.

The history of the Freedom Family stretches out far over the borders of Ghana where the crew first came together in 1970 as the Los Americanos. They eventually changed their name to The Plastic Jims and from there on the band underwent numerous permutations, crossing paths with musicians such as the Big Beats, the Barbeques, Voices Of Darkness, The Elcados, Joni Haastrup, Kiki Gyab and of course Fela along the way. Their musical odyssey took them from Ghana to Liberia, Nigeria, The Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso as the Plastic Jims first turned into Geraldo Pino's Heart Beats before finally emerging as the Freedom Family.

I wrote down what Albert told me. What you get is a first hand account that spans the years from 1969 to 1978. We are all blessed to get to read this and I will be forever thankful to Albert Jones for allowing us such a candid insight into the time and the places where this incredible music was created.

To me this is a very special release that is very dear to my heart. I hope this record will give you as much joy and pleasure as it has brought me over the years. This one will definitely rock any club or house party. The Vinyl edition comes with free digital download and a CD version with deluxe hardcover book packaging (just like we did for the Psychedelic Aliens release) will be out later this year.

By the time the Freedom Family cut their lone record in 1974, they were perhaps the most seasoned band in all of West Africa. Years of backing up Geraldo Pino, when they often played six hours a night for months on end, had honed them into razor-sharp Afro Funk machine without equal.

The story of the Freedom Family is an incredible insight into the life of a musician in 1970's West Africa and a dramatic portrait of that music scene in general. The beautiful 8 page 12"x12" booklet contains liner notes by singer Albert Jones and is illustrated with vintage photos of the band. Albert's vivid recollections brings the bands history to life in a truly compelling fashion.

The album itself stands out as a totally unique record that is rivaled only by the first Marijata album (which I have also re-released together with Academy Lps) in it's sheer power and heaviness. Indeed, this record takes it's rightful place amongst the most outstanding funk records from anywhere on this planet and solidly stands out as a pinnacle of West African Funk and a testament to the era. Absolutely consistent from beginning to end, there is not a dull second here.

Recorded in 1974 with legendary producer Odion Iruoje (Ofege, SJOB Movement, Fela and many others), this record features one of the fattest bass sounds ever committed to tape and captures the band at the absolute stunning peak of their powers. In fact, Odion would play this record for years to come as an example to other bands he was producing.

The album will ship to stores in September but you can also order directly from the label and get your copy RIGHT NOW!

Browse here for my other releases with Academy Lps.


Iain said...

This is superb. If it wasn't for all these fresh sounds coming from Africa's past I'm not sure what I would be listening to currently. These tunes keep my turntable spin'n. I will be buy a copy. Thanks for all the hard work.

TEA said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Frank
Already ordered my copy through Mike.
Thanks again!

Frank said...

Thanks for your support!

Anonymous said...

Will order this week! Shipping cost to France seems a bit high though

Thanks for this stunning release Frank !

Frank said...

The record should be in European stores by the end of next month or early in October.

afrobeat said...

Hey Frank,

of course I take down the link to download the album @ ...

honestly appreciate your work, therefore, no official album should be available somewhere ...

I hope for further releases and Freedom Family album is already ordered ...

Any chance that you come to Hamburg once, would be really great. Maybe Mojo club would be a great place for a set ...

Grüße aus Hamburg,


Pablo Elzir said...

Package received this morning.

Stunning record, was worth the wait!
It is at least as heavy as Marijata's first album, as you say, but I find it somewhat fresher, perhaps this is due to the mastering!

The story by Albert Jones is beautifully written and gives very good insight on how difficult was the music business in West Africa in those times.

A must have.

Thank you for your work!

Kind regards from Grenoble, France

Frank said...

Thanks for your support, Pablo. I'm glad you're enjoying the record.

The original production of the Freedom Family record was on a whole different level than the Marijata album. The Freedom Family Lp was recorded by legendary Nigerian producer Odion Iruoje at EMI studios in Lagos which was the best equipped studio on the continent at the time. Odion had had the opportunity to learn his skills on trips to EMI's studio in London and actually got to sit in at some of The Beatles' Sgt Pepper recording sessions. By the early to mid 70s Odion had managed to achieve a totally unique and bass heavy sound with some somehow weird but very effective compression on the drums, full bodied guitar and nice a crisp sound on the horns. Whenever I play out EMI records from that era I'm astounded at how perfect they sound on a club system today.

This Is Marijata on the other hand was recorded at a television sound stage with one microphone. The original label Gapophone is notorious for distortion from pushing the recording levels way into the red which in a way makes up for some of the charm of these recordings. When we had the Marijata album re-mastered we intentionally did not smooth it over too much as to retain the original, rough "spirit" of this iconic record.

Cofi Kutya said...

Freedom Family, my first Academy/Voodoofunk lp. Not the last! Even these files you upload sound fucking quality. Good job. I'm spreading the word too.