Diggin’ in Tokyo & Osaka vol 7 -December 2015

tokyo flyers 2016

see also Diggin’ in Japan; vol 5 Tokyo Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

                  Diggin’ in Japan vol 1; Tokyo record shops

in addition to MP Flapp’s previous posts here is his updated report on diggin’ in Tokyo & Osaka -December 2015.

Sometimes the best trips to look for records happen more by chance than design. This is one of those. It’s December and the year is running out. I’ve still not taken a proper holiday. Where’s best place to go to score some vinyl, chill a little, eat well and tactically avoid the commercial excesses of the season? It might come as a surprise that Japan would be the answer.

 

It’s actually a good time to go. It’s out-with the regular tourist season, the flights tend to be a bit cheaper, the hotels tend not to be fully booked, the shinkansen not overly busy, the weather can have an autumnal air, the shops are open every day and many record stores have end of year sales combined with the fact they pull out their top stock for the lure of the salary man’s bonus.

 

I’ve been to Japan more than once to buy records, so have a collection of maps and notes put together over the years with some valuable local assistance as a starting point. Having someone locally to point you in the right direction helps a lot, like anywhere else shops open, close and move, so one year’s good spots don’t necessary hold true for the next.

 

Until a few years ago the best guide to finding stores was the “Record Map”, a Japanese text only book detailing the locations of record and CD stores in almost every city in the country. It was never fully comprehensive, but as a guide it was invaluable. It ceased to be published in 2013. However, a sign that interest in stores and buying used music may be picking up is that the book is back on the shelves as a new and updated edition as of December 2014. The publication date was a bit late for this expedition as I was already on the ground when the book hit the shops.

 

This trip I’ve decided to focus on two locations: Tokyo and Osaka. Fly in to Tokyo spend some days there, travel to Osaka for a few more days, then return to Tokyo for a couple of days, before flying home on New Year’s Eve.

 

In my opinion, even if you drive, the best way to get between and around these cities is with the aid of the JR Rail Pass. Once you have the pass (the voucher is bought in advance of travelling to Japan) you are free to travel on any JR train. There are some exceptions with travelling on the shinkansen. The pass isn’t valid for a small number of superfast trains. However, the majority of shinkansen you can travel on by just making a reservation prior to boarding.

 

One thing I did differently to previous trips was to take a cheap Wi-Fi enabled tablet device. Given the short notice of the trip all I had was a rough plan with nothing fixed. Unlike a number of other countries cafes and bars tend not to have free Wi-Fi. All the hotels I stayed in had free Wi-Fi. So with this in mind all I did was firm up a plan for the day the night before and make sure any maps and the like were in an off-line form for browsing on the hoof.

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3 Tokyo main areas for record shopping

 

For the first few days in Tokyo I usually focus on three main areas: Shibuya (with a side trip to Shimokitazawa), Shinjuku and Ochanomizu (with a side trip on foot to Jinbouchou). It’s a fairly easy circle of stores on the metro and in each of the areas there are enough shops dominated by the spread of Disk Unions to make finding your feet and common titles fairly easy. Disk Union is the dominant used music chain in Tokyo. However, in the vicinity of the stores in Shinjuku and Ochanomizu there are some other great independent stores well worth checking. Sadly a few of the regular spots in the Jinbouchou area (Turntable for example) have closed.

 

Although at least in Turntable’s case the entity still exists. Admittedly off the high street. Enan (the former proprietor of Turntable), having shut the physical store still operates privately and through the pop-up one day record sale. I made it to one such record sale in Jinbouchou. The record sales are usually held in a bar or small hall for one day with a few sellers offering a limited set of stock from boxes. The sale is usually wrapped in a very social setting with both sellers and buyers soundtracking the event by playing records for each other whilst discussing music. More of a house party style event in a bar than a formal record fair. The sales seem to be a welcome new trend, with the stock available and those selling varying from event-to-event.

to OBI or not to OBI

 

There have been some changes in the records available and the prices since my last trip. As of 1st April 2014 sales tax went up to 8%. It’s often possible to see the price less tax and with tax on the price sticker on the record. Very few stores add the tax on unexpectedly, so what you see on the sticker is the price. One type of record I collect is the Japanese vinyl editions of what might be classed as well known releases (David Bowie, Brian Eno, Scott Walker etc). These are the LP versions wrapped by an OBI strip round the cover with an insert or booklet specifically made for the edition. Complete, these records would appear to have become much harder to find over the years and a bit more expensive than they used to be. There are a few that have eluded me for more than one trip now. A complete copy of Fripp and Eno’s “Evening Star” in theory should be relatively straightforward to score. It isn’t. There are plenty of clean copies of great titles at super cheap prices, but complete top copies are becoming a challenge.

 

That said there is no shortage of records from about every conceivable geographical location and genre available in almost every store. There are some highly specialist stores that focus on a specific range of music, but in general most stores are across the board. It’s the main reason I come. It’s not just the availability and price of records (which is usually very competitive), but the fact you can zip round town on public transport and without really trying visit anywhere between ten and fifteen stores in any one day and do the same again the next without covering the same ground twice.

 

 baboab tote bags 2016

Some recommendations?

It goes without saying any of the Disk Unions are worth visiting. The stock turns over frequently and there is always a good range of records for every pocket. Of the independent stores in Shibuya I would recommend a visit to both Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records. The former is a haven for the most obtuse mondo style records you’ve ever seen whilst the later has a broad range of world music with a healthy selection of African recordings (more CDs and less vinyl these days). One stop on the Keio Line on the express train from Shibuya is Shimokitazawa. Two notable spots here are Flash Disc Ranch for the selection of US used records combined with the sensible pricing policy and Yellow Pop whist not big is always good for turning up 80s alternative titles in top condition. The best Disk Union for Jazz is at Ochanomizu. A short walk from there in Jinbouchou is Record Sya. The store has existed on three floors for many years and is a great source for Japanese releases across almost every genre.

 

After all the digging for records you probably want a music related break for a drink. Tokyo has a wealth of unique music related café/bars. It’s really just a matter of finding them that is often the problem. Very few of these are often at street level and hence noticeable is passing. One distinct highlight of this trip was a visit to Sound Cafe Dzumi in Kichijoji. An upper floor haven for improvised and free jazz stoked with music and literature from the proprietors (Izumi Hideki) own archive. In addition to the Free Music Archive making regular radio broadcasts from the café they host frequent live performances.

Tokyo street scene 5

Continue reading “Diggin’ in Tokyo & Osaka vol 7 -December 2015”

Serge Franklin ‎– Pour Recevoir Vos Amis Comme À Ouagadougou, Afrique 1975

serge franklin -ouagadougou, afriqua LP cover

Serge Franklin  ‎– Pour Recevoir Vos Amis Comme À Ouagadougou, Afrique 1975

Pathé Marconi EMI ‎– 2 C 062 11568 (1975)
Series: Exotissimo – Vol. 8

Les Griots -Liwa Wetche

Les Griots -Danse Du Fleuve

Les Griots -Morgen

Les Griots -Kio Kio

Les Griots -Danse Des Filles Du Sable

Sad news came last friday when Ouagadougou was the centre of terrorists attacks claimed by an African branch of Al Qaeda. The hostage crisis ended in The Splendid Hotel with a total of 27 deaths.

In better times Burkina Faso was known as a relatively peaceful country.
The predominantly Muslim country located in the West African region is affected more often recently by the violence of jihadist militias. But previously the country remained relatively spared from jihadist violence, unlike neighboring countries like Mali and Niger.

It comes as no surprise to know that many French artists in the 60s and 70s went to Burkina Faso to perform or record music with local artists. Like Serge Franklin whose  artistic itinerary starts in France in the 60s as an author-songwriter when he published several 45s under his own name. The singer quickly became a studio musician as a sitar player and accompanied singers like Gilles Vigneault and Georges Moustaki at the Bobino theater in Paris, respectively in 1966 and 1969.

In 1971 Serge Franklin traveled to India where he perfected his skills on sitar under the pseudonym Adjenar Sidhar Khan. As a lover of primitive stringed instruments, Franklin recorded a rather remarkable album in Ouagadougou, featuring mainly local instruments like the cora, balafon, zanza and the bow.

The album contains a beautiful version of ‘Licha Wetche’,  a traditional song that was popular with many artists. See also the Bleached Zulu
“Pour Recevoir Vos Amis Comme À Ouagadougou, Afrique” by Les Griots was released in France as part of the series Exotissiomo in 1975. It is a collection of traditional songs, field recordings and newly written material by Serge Franklin, performed by local musicians.

 

 

10 songs & 1 book to celebrate 40 years of Surinam independency

suriname vlag

happy birthday Surinam! The former Dutch colony celebrates 40 years of independency today.
During the festivities swinging music will be heard on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed appropriate to me to select 10 personal favourite tracks from my own collection to celebrate this festive day here in Amsterdam and Surinam. May these gems be heard around the world, as far as  Paramaribo…Kawina, Kaseko, disco, surinam soul, latin, mambo …all from different decades and representing the most typical styles of  Surinamese music.

sranan gowtu book cover

At the same time I would like to pay attention to a special book which recently appeared; “Sranan Gowtu’ by Diederik Samwel. Published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar in association with record label Top Notch which already released two compilations with the stars of the Surinamese music in 2013.

The first step in the revaluation of Surinamese music started in 2013 with the collector ‘Sranan Gowtu’ with songs from six different decades. The compilation is packed with Creole music, calypso, Kaseko music, winti songs, salsa, soca, dancehall to the timeless pop hit ‘Wasmasjien! ” by Trafassi. Besides digitally and on CD this compilation is also available in gorgeous red and green vinyl.

However, this is only the beginning. The purpose of Sranan Gowtu is not only to provide an overview of the range of beautiful Surinamese music, but also to go in depth with compilations of individual performers. So meanwhile the best work of  Dear Hugo, Trafassi, Max Nijman, Papa Touwtjie and Kid Dynamite has been republished.

And here are my 10 favourite songs from Surinam….

suriname ost herman vander horst watermarked

Big Jones and his Kawina Band -Ala Pikin Nengre

from the soundtrack ‘Faja Lobbi ‘; a film by Herman vander Horst (1960)

a kind of ballad about the town of Paramaribo. In the introductory solo singing, all the children (ala pikin nengre) are called to go to the town (foto) to admire everything that may be seen there; the houses (hoso), the big ship (biggie boto), the factories, the machines, the cars, the shops (wenkri) etc. Finally we arrive at the market (wojo) where we find an endless variety of articles, and an equally wide variety of people.

big jones -par'bo mambo label watermarked

Big Jones -Par’Bo Mambo

rare mambo track that celebrates life in the capital Paramaribo

coco valoy -juliana label watermarked

Coco Valoy -Juliana

great latin instrumental by a member of Los Virtuosos

orchestra tropical tata vodoe cover watermarked

Orchestra Tropical -Tata Vodoe

the kasekomasters -boroe cover watermarked

The KasekoMasters -Boroe

max nijman and the new faces -sugar label watermarked

Max Nijman and The New Faces -Sugar

ricky -poeirie label watermarked

Ricky -Poeirie

erwin bouterse watermarked

Edwin Bouterse and his Rhythm Cosmos -Disco Party

spooky -music watermarked

Spooky’s Express -Express

instrumental version called ‘Express’, while the vocal side is called ‘Music’. Clearly a remake/rehash of ‘Soul Finger’, the big instrumental hit of 1967 by The Bar-Kays.

billy jones & the stars -all my brothers are clean label watermarked

Billy Jones & The Stars – All My Brothers Are Clean

more Surinamese music in subsequent posts.

remember District 6?

Running small convenience stores in townships is a dangerous business for foreigners. Often serving their customers through locked gates, they are accused of spreading disease, stealing jobs and sponging off basic government services like electricity, running water and healthcare.

But as violence against them continues, the South African government insists that criminality is behind it, not xenophobia

Remember District 6?

In 1986, District Six – The Musical- by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen told the story of District Six in a popular musical which also toured internationally.

By the turn of the century District Six, originally known as the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town, was already a lively community made up of former slaves, artisans, merchants and other immigrants, as well as many Malay people brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company during its administration of the Cape Colony.

After World War II, during the earlier part of the apartheid era, District Six was relatively cosmopolitan. Situated within sight of the docks, it was made up largely of coloured residents which included a substantial number of coloured Muslims, called Cape Malays. There were also a number of black Xhosa residents and a smaller numbers of Afrikaans, whites, and Indians. district 6 the musical pics

Government officials gave four primary reasons for the removals. In accordance with apartheid philosophy, it stated that interracial interaction bred conflict, necessitating the separation of the races. They deemed District Six a slum, fit only for clearance, not rehabilitation. They also portrayed the area as crime-ridden and dangerous; they claimed that the district was a vice den, full of immoral activities like gambling, drinking, and prostitution. Though these were the official reasons, most residents believed that the government sought the land because of its proximity to the city centre, Table Mountain, and the harbour.

On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000 people had been relocated to the sandy, bleak Cape Flats township complex some 25 kilometres away. The old houses were bulldozed. The only buildings left standing were places of worship. International and local pressure made redevelopment difficult for the government, however. The Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology) was built on a portion of District Six which the government renamed Zonnebloem. Apart from this and some police housing units, the area was left undeveloped.

Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, the South African government has recognised the older claims of former residents to the area, and pledged to support rebuilding.

District Six also contributed mightily to the distinguished history of South African jazz.

Basil Coetzee, known for his song “District Six”, was born there and lived there until its destruction. Before leaving South Africa in the 1960s, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim lived nearby and was a frequent visitor to the area, as were many other cape jazz musicians. Ibrahim described the area to The Guardian as a “fantastic city within a city..In the late 50s and 60s, when the regime clamped down, it was still a place where people could mix freely. It attracted musicians, writers, politicians at the forefront of the struggle as the school Western province Prep were a huge help in the struggle, but the head boy at the time and an exciptionaly great help was . We played and everybody would be there.”

 district 6 the musical cover back

And the story continues with ‘District 9’, probably the most stunning sci-fi movie I have ever seen.

Released in 2009, directed by Neill Blomkamp, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham.

The film won the 2010 Saturn Award for Best International Film presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2009:

The story, adapted from ‘Alive in Joburg’, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp and produced by Sharlto Copley and Simon Hansen, depicts humanity, xenophobia, and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by events in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era. The film was shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto, presenting fictional interviews, news footage, and video from surveillance cameras in a found footage format.

More then a great science fiction action thriller it’s a social commentary. Replace the word “alien” with any legal or illegal inhabitant of a township and the message the movie was conveying becomes clear. Not for the squeamish.

source; Wikipedia, YouTube, Aljazeera

Diggin’ in Japan; vol 6 Osaka Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

 

in addition to MP Flapp’s previous post on diggin’ in Japan here is his report on Osaka.

see also Diggin’ in Japan; vol 5 Tokyo Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

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Next stop Osaka.

Osaka is just over three hours from Tokyo by shinkansen. Unlike Tokyo Shin-Osaka where the shinkansen arrives is about 20 minutes from downtown Osaka by metro. Namba is a recommended spot to find a hotel as two large groupings of records stores exist in this area. The first is roughly between Shinsaibashi and Yotsubashi metro stations. The second is south-west of the main Namba railway station. Between the two there are in excess of twenty record stores. A third area with about five stores exists just south of Nakazakicho metro station.

Complementing the stores, from 26th December for four days, the Hanshin Department Store at Umeda plays host to a record fair. Recommended for the fact many stores not based in Osaka are represented at the fair. The stores from Osaka who sell at the fair tend to use it as a means to offload excess stock at sensible prices. It is still worth visiting the stores in person as many of the more obtuse or rare records remain in store and not at the fair. The fair is a bit different to European fairs in the organised loosely by genre/theme across a number of tables. None of the sellers are present, but their stock is tagged up according. You basically build up a pile of records from across all the sellers. Go to the inspection area where you can check the records, returning any that are not up to scratch. Then proceed to the check-out areas where you pay for and get your finds bagged. A bit odd the first time you do it, but I have to say it is fairly efficient.

Osaka  shop 1

Possibly the biggest difference between Tokyo and Osaka for record shopping is that there is less need for public transport. You can for the most part walk between stores and as such Osaka is a fairly laid back shopping experience. The shops are as equally well stocked as Tokyo, but there are just slightly less of them.

Some recommendations? Bamboo Music is closest to Nakazakicho metro station and a little out of the way, but is always worth a visit for the Jazz, soul and funk based selection. One of those stores with something for every pocket and quite a few titles you only ever see on-line. At the other end of town near Namba station you’ll find Naka Records. The store is a good starting point for the area as it often has a map for the other stores in the vicinity, and is a great source of lounge, easy and Japanese 45s. A short walk from Naka you’ll find Wild One Records. A delight of a store for Folk and Progressive rock music fans. The store is sensibly priced and has something for every pocket. Heading up to Shinsaibashi there is a great little club based music port of call called Rare Groove Records. Again the shop stocks a great range of LPs, 12s and 45s. They also have flyer map for the other stores in that area, a number of which are in the same building. A short walk from here and close to Yotsubashi metro station you’ll find Maru Ka Batsu. The store has existed for some years and has a great stock of 80s focused punk, alternative and industrial music. It’s well stocked in other areas too, but the aforementioned genres are always a distinct highlight. I often make this the last top of the day as at the end of the street the store is on you’ll find craft beer bar Kamikaze. It’s always a pleasure to drink there at the end of the day.

 

As short as this piece is you’ve probably guessed that with not too much effort and a bit of time it’s possible to discover a fantastic range of stores with an equally eclectic stock of records at a range of prices that makes record collecting available to every type of buyer. It’s not all about finding super rare records for three figure sums of money, but discovering new music that excites you and at a price you can afford. Saying that, if luck’s on your side you might just find that grail along the way by chance…

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Notes:

  1. The for the Japanese record map book is http://recordmap.com/
  2. List of Five Independent stores in Tokyo. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Flash Disc Ranch and Yellow Pop both in Shimo-Kitazawa. Record Sya in Jinbouchou. Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records both in Shibuya.
  3. List of Five Independent stores in Osaka. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Bamboo Records, Naka Records, Wild One Records, Rare Groove Records and Maru Ka Batsu
  4. For Sound Cafe Dzumi check https://www.facebook.com/SoundCafedzumi or www.dzumi.jp
  5. Two recommend craft beer bars that do a fine range of food in Osaka are as follows: Craft Beer Works Kamikaze (see http://www.cbw-kamikaze.com/) and Lezzet Craft Beer & Food Experience Bar (see http://ameblo.jp/lezzetcraftbeer)
  6. The Record Sale. A good resource for finding information on occasional record sales is http://www.oneboxrecordfair.com/. As well as organising the One Box Record Fair the site highlights other similar events.
  7. One record sale well worth investigating if you are in Tokyo on 14th and 15th Feb. 2015 is organised by Enan formally of the Turntable store. The details of the record fair are at https://www.facebook.com/Turntable-Tokyo/. This one takes place in a rented space, so is a little bit bigger than a bar sale. A short clip of one of Enan’s previous events is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJQQZBjpUKo
  8. ??????????

Diggin’ in Japan; vol 5 Tokyo Dec 2014 by MP Flapp

today brings an exciting post by guest editor MP Flapp who recently came back fully loaded from a trip to Japan and who is so generous to share his experiences on this blog. Regard it as an additional update to the published previous posts of diggin’ in Japan. First up is his report on Tokyo, next post will cover Osaka.

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 1; Tokyo record shops 

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 2; Osaka finds 

see also diggin’ in Japan, vol 3; One Box Record Fair Tokyo 

see also diggin’ in Japan vol 4-El Sur Records Tokyo-interview with Takashi Harada (translation in Japanese)

MP Flapp in Tokyo Dec 14

Diggin’ for gold in Tokyo -December 2014

by guest editor MP Flapp

Sometimes the best trips to look for records happen more by chance than design. This is one of those. It’s December and the year is running out. I’ve still not taken a proper holiday. Where’s best place to go to score some vinyl, chill a little, eat well and tactically avoid the commercial excesses of the season? It might come as a surprise that Japan would be the answer.

It’s actually a good time to go. It’s out-with the regular tourist season, the flights tend to be a bit cheaper, the hotels tend not to be fully booked, the shinkansen trains not overly busy, the weather can have an autumnal air, the shops are open every day and many record stores have end of year sales combined with the fact they pull out their top stock for the lure of the salary man’s bonus.

I’ve been to Japan more than once to buy records, so have a collection of maps and notes put together over the years with some valuable local assistance as a starting point. Having someone locally to point you in the right direction helps a lot, like anywhere else shops open, close and move, so one year’s good spots don’t necessary hold true for the next.

Until a few years ago the best guide to finding stores was the “Record Map”, a Japanese text only book detailing the locations of record and CD stores in almost every city in the country. It was never fully comprehensive, but as a guide it was invaluable. It ceased to be published in 2013. However, a sign that interest in stores and buying used music may be picking up is that the book is back on the shelves as a new and updated edition as of December 2014. The publication date was a bit late for this expedition as I was already on the ground when the book hit the shops.

This trip I’ve decided to focus on two locations: Tokyo and Osaka. Fly in to Tokyo spend some days there, travel to Osaka for a few more days, then return to Tokyo for a couple of days, before flying home on New Year’s Eve.

In my opinion, even if you drive, the best way to get between and around these cities is with the aid of the JR Rail Pass. Once you have the pass (the voucher is bought in advance of travelling to Japan) you are free to travel on any JR train. There are some exceptions with travelling on the shinkansen. The pass isn’t valid for a small number of superfast trains. However, the majority of shinkansen you can travel on by just making a reservation prior to boarding.

One thing I did differently to previous trips was to take a cheap Wi-Fi enabled tablet device. Given the short notice of the trip all I had was a rough plan with nothing fixed. Unlike a number of other countries cafes and bars tend not to have free Wi-Fi. All the hotels I stayed in had free Wi-Fi. So with this in mind all I did was firm up a plan for the day the night before and make sure any maps and the like were in an off-line form for browsing on the hoof.

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Tokyo

For the first few days in Tokyo I usually focus on three main areas: Shibuya (with a side trip to Shimokitazawa), Shinjuku and Ochanomizu (with a side trip on foot to Jinbouchou). It’s a fairly easy circle of stores on the metro and in each of the areas there are enough shops dominated by the spread of Disk Unions to make finding your feet and common titles fairly easy. Disk Union is the dominant used music chain in Tokyo. However, in the vicinity of the stores in Shinjuku and Ochanomizu there are some other great independent stores well worth checking. Sadly a few of the regular spots in the Jinbouchou area (Turntable for example) have closed.

Although at least in Turntable’s case the entity still exists. Admittedly off the high street. Enan (the former proprietor of Turntable), having shut the physical store still operates privately and through the pop-up one day record sale. I made it to one such record sale in Jinbouchou. The record sales are usually held in a bar or small hall for one day with a few sellers offering a limited set of stock from boxes. The sale is usually wrapped in a very social setting with both sellers and buyers soundtracking the event by playing records for each other whilst discussing music. More of a house party style event in a bar than a formal record fair. The sales seem to be a welcome new trend, with the stock available and those selling varying from event-to-event.

There have been some changes in the records available and the prices since my last trip. As of 1st April 2014 sales tax went up to 8%. It’s often possible to see the price less tax and with tax on the price sticker on the record. Very few stores add the tax on unexpectedly, so what you see on the sticker is the price. One type of record I collect is the Japanese vinyl editions of what might be classed as well known releases (David Bowie, Brian Eno, Scott Walker etc). These are the LP versions wrapped by an OBI strip round the cover with an insert or booklet specifically made for the edition. Complete, these records would appear to have become much harder to find over the years and a bit more expensive than they used to be. There are a few that have eluded me for more than one trip now. A complete copy of Fripp and Eno’s “Evening Star” in theory should be relatively straightforward to score. It isn’t. There are plenty of clean copies of great titles at super cheap prices, but complete top copies are becoming a challenge.

That said there is no shortage of records from about every conceivable geographical location and genre available in almost every store. There are some highly specialist stores that focus on a specific range of music, but in general most stores are across the board. It’s the main reason I come. It’s not just the availability and price of records (which is usually very competitive), but the fact you can zip round town on public transport and without really trying visit anywhere between ten and fifteen stores in any one day and do the same again the next without covering the same ground twice.

??????????

Some recommendations? It goes without saying any of the Disk Unions are worth visiting. The stock turns over frequently and there is always a good range of records for every pocket. Of the independent stores in Shibuya I would recommend a visit to both Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records. The former is a haven for the most obtuse mondo style records you’ve ever seen whilst the later has a broad range of world music with a healthy selection of African recordings (more CDs and less vinyl these days). One stop on the Keio Line on the express train from Shibuya is Shimokitazawa. Two notable spots here are Flash Disc Ranch for the selection of US used records combined with the sensible pricing policy and Yellow Pop whist not big is always good for turning up 80s alternative titles in top condition. The best Disk Union for Jazz is at Ochanomizu. A short walk from there in Jinbouchou is Record Sya. The store has existed on three floors for many years and is a great source for Japanese releases across almost every genre.

After all the digging for records you probably want a music related break for a drink. Tokyo has a wealth of unique music related café/bars. It’s really just a matter of finding them that is often the problem. Very few of these are often at street level and hence noticeable is passing. One distinct highlight of this trip was a visit to Sound Cafe Dzumi in Kichijoji. An upper floor haven for improvised and free jazz stoked with music and literature from the proprietors (Izumi Hideki) own archive. In addition to the Free Music Archive making regular radio broadcasts from the café they host frequent live performances.

 

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Notes:

  1. The for the Japanese record map book is http://recordmap.com/
  2. List of Five Independent stores in Tokyo. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Flash Disc Ranch and Yellow Pop both in Shimo-Kitazawa. Record Sya in Jinbouchou. Sonota (aka Manual of Errors) and El Sur Records both in Shibuya.
  3. List of Five Independent stores in Osaka. All of the following stores can easily be found via Google. Bamboo Records, Naka Records, Wild One Records, Rare Groove Records and Maru Ka Batsu
  4. For Sound Cafe Dzumi check https://www.facebook.com/SoundCafedzumi or http://www.dzumi.jp
  5. Two recommend craft beer bars that do a fine range of food in Osaka are as follows: Craft Beer Works Kamikaze (see http://www.cbw-kamikaze.com/) and Lezzet Craft Beer & Food Experience Bar (see http://ameblo.jp/lezzetcraftbeer)
  6. The Record Sale. A good resource for finding information on occasional record sales is http://www.oneboxrecordfair.com/. As well as organising the One Box Record Fair the site highlights other similar events
  7. One record sale well worth investigating if you are in Tokyo on 14th and 15th Feb. 2015 is organised by Enan formally of the Turntable store. The details of the record fair are at https://www.facebook.com/Turntable-Tokyo/. This one takes place in a rented space, so is a little bit bigger than a bar sale. A short clip of one of Enan’s previous events is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJQQZBjpUKo

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“Afro Mood”-a burlesque short with exotic dancer Amalia Aguilar

Amalia Aguilar-Afro Mood

Afro Mood

A burlesque short film starring exotic dancer Amalia Aguilar.  “Afro Mood” is one of two numbers that she performed in a movie entitled “A Night at the Follies”, which was made in 1947. The name of the other number she performs in that film is “Rumba-Amalia”.

Spectacular dancing to African and Afro-Cuban music, tribal dancing for the  theatre. What this has to do with Africa, though, is questionable but the music and the tribal dance sequence are great. As far as the term “Afro” in the title, sometimes Latin music like Rumba is referred to as “Afro-Cuban” music, as a major portion of its origins are from Africa.

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Amalia Aguilar -Afro Mood

Go See Afrika Festival. Hertme Twente 5-6th July 2014

 

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Ah Glorious Summer! Now that the weather finally feels tropical here in Holland, it’s time go out and see some new African bands –and a few old favourites too-  at the Afrikafestival in Hertme, Twente. Now in its 26th year

 From 13:00 on Saturday 5th of July right through to 01:00 on Sunday 6th of July, there will be six groups playing. Three will be performing in the Netherlands for the first time and one of the groups will even be playing in Europe for the first time– a European debut!

 The festival starts with Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa from Morocco. This group is often used to close the show at festivals, but in Hertme they will be the opening act. The Gnawa trance of Aziz will evolve into the heady trance of the BKO Quintet from Mali in which the hunters-ngoni from the Wassoulou area and the griot ngoni meet.

Singer Nancy Vieira from Cape Verde with her swinging ballads provides a haven of rest in the afternoon. They are one of the most promising new live bands in Ghana. This is their European debut – an exclusive for Hertme. Do not miss the chance to see this new exciting band performing for the first time outside Africa.

As night begins to fall, it will be time for Black Bazar. This group brings a mix of rumba and soukous from Congo. Next on stage will be Debademba from Burkina Faso/Mali. Both groups delivering us with an explosive dance party on this summer night.

Sunday 6th of July is the day of the big names.

At 12:00 o’clock the day kicks off with the magic and virtuoso guitar playing of Teta from Madagascar.

Mamar Kassey are an old acquaintance of Hertme having played there in 2008. Since then, they  have become one of the top African bands.

Yacouba Moumouni -Mamar Kassey photograph by Daniel Cohen
Yacouba Moumouni -Mamar Kassey
photograph by Daniel Cohen

The excellent Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan will amaze you while Fendika provides explosive music and ‘shoulder-dance’.

habtanesh circus derbere behan by Andy Moor
hisak & ashenafi circus derbere behan by Andy Moor.

The first African circus working with disabled and deaf people

The amazing Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan was formed in 1998 in the town of the same name, three hours away from Addis. One can find circuses all around Ethiopia, in Addis Abeba and in various smaller towns. Although it’s not an old tradition in the country circus has a very important impact on communities, as they often mix stories about society (violence on women, HIV prevention, etc.) and more straightforward performances. The Circus is working with more than 100 acrobats, including children.

One of the important features in this circus, however, lies in the fact that it employs performers who have physical disabilities as well as those who are deaf. It is the first African circus working with disabled people. These performers, both those in the children’s act and the adult’s act, are extremely talented. Circus Debre Berhan’s shows open with the children’s beautiful and often very challenging acrobatics, followed by the adult act, which is staggering in its intricacy and difficulty. The performances are usually held in public spaces such as markets and main squares where possible in order to reach and entertain as many people as possible.

At the moment, Circus Debre Berhan is touring all over Ethiopia with its hundred or so performers split into small groups, to cover the vast countryside. If it continues its success, it will hopefully help change perceptions of disability and stigma.

melaku &zenash -fendika by Andy Moor
melaku & zenash -fendika by Andy Moor

 

nardos - fendika by Andy Moor
nardos – fendika by Andy Moor

  Fendika (Ethiopia)

Ferocious five-piece band with two phenomenal dancers

 

Fendika is a troupe of highly accomplished Azmari musicians and dancers. Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, a leading dancer, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s famous music club Fendika Azmari Bet in Addis Abeba. In Ethiopian culture, an Azmari bet is a traditional house of music where people come to be entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the Azmari, who serve as current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play for tips.

Melaku is one of Ethiopia’s foremost dancers of the eskesta, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements. Growing up as a street kid, Melaku learned many regional dances of Ethiopia. He has travelled throughout Ethiopia to learn the dance traditions of the country’s 80 tribal groups. The musicians and dancers of Fendika present a cultural journey starting in the highlands of Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam and so on.

 

Melaku Belay, dances;

Zinash Tsegaye, dance;

Misale Legesse, kobero (trad. drums);

Endris Hassen, masinko (one cord violin);

Nardos Tesfaw, vocals.

 

The biggest highlight of the 26th Africa Festival will be the historic reunion of Les Ambassadeurs. One of the members of this legendary group is Salif Keita. Together with his colleagues from the 1970’s, he will play the finest Malian music from that period.

Habib Koité hardly needs no further introduction. He closes the festival with his new band. It will also be the presentation of his new CD Soô.

listen to some live recordings of previous editions of the Afrika festival in Hertme, Twente

South Africa celebrates 20 Years of Freedom & Democracy

during my record hunting trips, I often encounter the most unusual records which attract my attention. Like last Queensday -today it’s called King’s Day- at the end of April in Amsterdam when the city becomes one huge flea market and people sell their junk, sometimes rare records too…

At first I thought it was a reggae album, because of the colors of the artwork but  I found out that the record contains music of a somewhat less light sensible topic. Music of the liberation movements of South Africa ( ANC ) and Namibia ( SWAPO ) and the People’s Republic of Angola.

The ANC is  in power since 1994 and has once again won the elections in 2014 so it is 20 years ago that the ANC came into power as  the leading party in South Africa’s democracy. Certainly a time for celebration for some but unfortunately not for all. Sometimes it is forgotten -or unknown- how much support the African National Congress received from abroad during their struggle for freedom, especially from a country like the Netherlands. Many exiles received a warm welcome in the small country on the North Sea in the 70’s and found numerous organizations which were committed to help to fight the struggle against apartheid.

maatla cover
The LP Maatla!, the title which translates as ‘power’,  features  a number of songs that were collected by several staff members of the Medical Komitee Angola during a visit to South Africa in 1976. Released as a private pressing by Medical Komitee Angola in Holland, this LP is a document of a bygone age. Or am I mistaken?

One the of the songs that is featured on this album is a militant song called ‘Sizoba dubula ngembhayimbhayi’ sung by the Sechaba Choir ANC in Xhosa. The text translates as;  the farmers flee; we shall chase them and shoot.

 

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Sechaba Choir ANC -Welele

a song in Xhosa, in which Nelson Mandela (the then leader of the ANC who was imprisoned on Robben Island at the time) is requested to support for the problems of his people in these difficult times. The people no longer sleep at home but go into the mountains to fight against the ‘Boers’.  Vukani Mawethu-People Awake! Join the African National Congress military.

Sechaba Choir ANC -Rolihlahla

This is Mandela’s African name. This song is sung in English and adresses the President of the ANC, Nelson ‘Rolihlahla’ Mandela to lead his people to freedom

Sechaba Choir ANC -Shanyelan’ Amabala

variation on a traditional song that was sung when cleaning an open place for an important event. It calls the children in South Africa to prepare for the arrival of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the military wing of the ANC that  will come to fight as one destroys scorpions.  (sung in Zulu)

Sechaba Choir ANC -Wobaleka

Umkhonto coming. We are the spear of the nation; We have suffered long enough; we want to be free. Freedom for Africa. (sung in Xhosa)

Sechaba Choir ANC -uMachel

a song in honor of Samora Machel, and Agostino Neto, who fought for their independence of the reactionary forces. It is intended to encourage Oliver Tambo, Sam Nujoma and the Patriotic Front in their fight for freedom. (sung in Xhosa)

maatla label 1

 

maatla label 2

 

Soul Safari ebay auction

Greetings fellow music lovers, Soul Safari’s eBay auction starts today with new additions weekly.

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Throughout the entire month of May Soul Safari will be listing field recordings, folk, private pressings, township jive & kwela jazz, African jazz, soul & boogie, mbanqaga,and much much more with absolutely no reserves.

Records that have been presented on these pages over the last five years are now on auction. So here  is your change to grab some rare African vinyl  as I am cleaning out my shelves to make room for new music.

 

Soul Safari's ebay auction
Soul Safari’s ebay auction

 

Soul Safari's eBay auction
Soul Safari’s eBay auction

Some highlights; a collection of ultra rare and seldom heard field recordings from ILAM, recorded by Hugh Tracey. These records were purchased many years ago directly from ILAM in South Africa from what was left of their unsold stock. All records come in their original cover with the labels attached to the back cover and are unplayed, in brand new mint condition.

More  Soul Safari favs like great 45’s by jive kings The Soweto Boys, mbanqaga queens The Manzini Girls  are now on auction.

Soul Safari's eBay auction
Soul Safari’s eBay auction

See Soul Safari’s eBay auction starting today.

Thanks  for your support and best of luck, happy bidding!