In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP) -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization

In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)

Tony Oladipo Allen

Tony Oladipo Allen (born July 20th, 1940, in Lagos, Nigeria, died April 30th, 2020 in Paris, France) was a Nigerian drummer, composer, and songwriter who lived and worked in Courbevoie, France.

Tony Allen played drums for Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80 organizations, pioneering the unique beat and vibe of Afrobeat music which combines polyrhythmic influences of Africa with the breakbeats and extended jams of the American funk and R&B which reached Nigeria in the late 60s and early 70s.

Afrobeat music has since re-influenced western dance music in fusion genres like broken beat and future jazz, as in the music of Bugz In The Attic.

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

I can remember the night of the concert by Fela Kuti in Amsterdam on 28 November 1983 in Paradiso, the great temple of pop, like it is yesterday.  Everyone in Amsterdam and within the borders of  Holland who loved African music must have been there as it was sold out, with many people outside trying to get in…

please note that the pics used here are from a different concert, not the Paradiso concert 1983

It seemed like  some royalty was in town  for a visit. The hall was packed and it took a long time before the show began. The audience was getting restless, whipped up by the hot Afro-beat that the DJ  played beforehand, and after much cheering and applause the stage was finally lit. Or rather, a follow spot captured a naked woman painted in bright war paint who entered the stage on hands and feet, chained to the neck drawing another six or seven slaves with her in captivity. These women were the wives of Fela Kuti who held  the chain around their necks tightly.

The band started this hypnotic Afro-beat; the song “Political Statement Number 1” and Fela took place behind the organ, sang and played soprano sax. Not at the same time but stretched out over a three hour set. The dancers and the band whipped each other into a frenzy until the man behind the microphone started “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”. Fela with his entourage glowed in the dark.

The room was boiling, the crowd delirious, the show transcended the regular program of standard performances into a very intense experience, it felt like a spiritual political meeting with Fela Kuti as high priest, as a leader.

This unique concert was recorded from the mixing desk at the night, mixed in London by Dennis Bovell and later released as the album “Music Is The Weapon” in 1984.

I will present the complete album in a following post so here today I propose an early 12” that was originally released in Nigeria by Kalakuta Records  in 1977. This disc features one of the biggest hits by Fela Kuti, then still performing under the name ‘Africa 70 Organization‘;  ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ and ‘Colonial Mentality’ 

The label does not mention any titles or credits but the name of the artist and label info.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Colonial Mentality

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization – Kalakuta Records Nigeria KK001 -1977

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere- November 28th 1983

Hugh Masekela (1939-2018) South Africa’s godfather of jazz, has died

Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, has died after battle with prostate cancer -photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)
photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)

Legendary South African trumpeter and anti-apartheid movement figure, Hugh Masekela has died at aged 78, after a battle with prostate cancer, according to his family and the government.

Born on April 4, 1939, Masekela first picked up a trumpet after seeing the film “Young Man With a Horn” and encouraged by activist Father Trevor Huddleston. Often described as the “father of South African jazz”, Masekela was an icon of South Africa’s Sophiatown, the political and cultural enclave of Johannesburg that was razed by apartheid police but remains a symbol of black freedom.

read more 

 ‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ is probably one of the most impressive excursions of a jazz trumpeter into the deep heartlands of Africa; Hugh Masekela meets Nigerian band Hedzoleh Soundz.

After his big hit success with ‘Grazing in the grass’,  which went to #1 in both the pop and R&B charts in 1968, Masekela joined his former wife Miriam Makeba in Guinea, Africa for a tour. It was there that he met the Ghanian band Hedzoleh Soundz, an extremely talented band known for blending the ancient rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana with American jazz and Latin music.

At the time Fela Kuti was taking Africa and the world by storm with his brand of Nigerian Jazz Funk.  The interlocking rhythms over which his saxophone could endlessly groove were reminiscent of the style of funk patterns that James Brown pioneered in the U.S.

Hedzoleh Soundz combines the rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana while Masekela adds the improvisational drive of jazz. The album ‘Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973 and features such tracks as ‘Languta’, an irresistible chunk of infectious Afro beat with an inspired Masekela singing and blowing on top.

‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ -Languta

Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz

players:

  • Hugh Masekela – Trumpet & Vocals
  • Stanley Kwesi Todd – Electric Bass & Vocals
  • James Kwaku Morton – Congas & Vocals
  • Nat “Leepuma” Hammond – Congas, Flute & Vocals
  • Richard Neesai “Jagger” Botchway – Guitar
  • Isaac Asante – Talking Drum, Percussion & Vocals
  • Samuel Nortey – Percussion & Vocals
  • Acheampong Welbeck – Drums

tracks;

  1. Languta
  2. Kaa Ye Oya
  3. Adade
  4. Yei Baa Gbe Wolo
  5. Patience
  6. When
  7. Nye Tamo Ame
  8. Rekpete

Blue Thumb Chisa BTS 62 USA

Buy the original album here

latest record finds -October 2013 USA

my last safari through the concrete jungle of cities like New York City and Philadelphia generated a lot of great finds, not just African music but a few  interesting otherwordly records as well. What about The Afro-Latin Soultet ‘Wild!’, a truely rare jazz-soul gem rarely seen in the wild.

Best catch of this safari must be the American release of Spokes Mashiyane’s  LP ‘King Kwela’, recorded during his  first US live tour,  The Boyoyo Boys ‘Back In Town’, Josef Marais, and Dorothy Masuka ‘Pata Pata’ as runner up… maybe not the holy grails I was looking for in the first place but still a decent selection of music from the African diaspora that I like to share with you. More info and mp3 files in coming posts….and my experience of diggin’ in Philadelphia will be revealed shortly.

the afro-latin soultet -wild! gecomp

abdullah ibrahim- water from an ancient well gecomp

see also SA Jazz -Abdullah Ibrahim speaks! Staffrider interview with poet Hein Willemse NYC Dec 1986

boyoyo boys -back in town gecomp

see also David Thekwane & The Boyoyo Boys -Township Jive 1977

dorothy masuka -pata pata gecomp

see also South African Soul Divas pt 2 Dorothy Masuka, Mahotella Queens, Irene & The Sweet Melodians

hi-life intl -gecomp josef marais -songs of the african veld gecomp

see also the Bleached Zulu

majuba ost -gecomp

rare South African OST ‘Majuba’. I will review this LP shortly

next stop soweto vol 3 gecomp

ah…all the essential and most collectable Cape Jazz holy grails on a double album, released by Strut Records in 2010.

phezulu eqhudeni -gecomp rochereau tabu ley & l'african fiesta vol 2 gecomp spokes mashiyane -king kwela gecomp tabu ley babeti soukous gecomp

Black Man’s Cry -inspired by Fela -volume 1

The influence of Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti crosses many foreign shores as the man raised a few political issues as well in his home country Nigeria. The music of Fela inspired musicians as well as beatmasters, scratchers and was sampled galore. Afro-beat has become such a household name these days that many punters  will not be able to  trace back the genre back to the original Godfather of Afro-beat from Nigeria.

On foreign shores, outside of France (where his music saw nearly as many issues as if did in his native country) a chosen few Westerners -Cream’s drummer Ginger Baker and New York-based jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers amongst them- could claim to know the extent of Fela’s genius. As a result, while music historians have filled books with references to the influence of Westerners on Fela’s creation, little has been said about Fela’s inspiration on others.

 Today’s post shines a light on a wonderful compilation, issued on American based label Now Again in 2010, ‘Black Man’s Cry -The Inspiration of Fela Kuti-‘. It’s an impeccable collection of ultra-rare singles and a few tracks from even rarer albums, all lovingly compiled by Egon. The collection includes rare and previously unreleased music from Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Trinidad…Presented in a deluxe CD-box with an extensive booklet full with info and pics of the featured tracks.

Well recommended.

Go and get your own copy either on CD or as 4 10″ LP Box Set!

Buy it on iTunes here.

1. Cumbia Moderna De Soledad -Shacalao 3:42
2. Dan Satch and his Atomic 8 Dance Band -Woman Pin Down 2:52
3. 6th Infantry Brigade of the Nigerian Army -Black And Proud 3:33
4. Bola Johnson -Hot Pants 2:52
5. Segun Bucknor -Adebo 5:52
6. Bola Johnson -Never Trust A Woman 5:13
7. Jerry Hansen -Sisi Mi 5:31
8. Daktaris -Up Side Down 4:14
9. Phirpo Y Sus Caribes -Comencemos 2:11
10. Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 9:53
11. Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra -Black Man’s Cry 4.28
12. Sylvania East Side Symphony -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 2:58
13. Lisandro Meza -Shacalao 3:43
14. Karl Hector and The Malcouns Toure -Samar 3:17
15. Whitefield Brothers -Lullaby For Lagos 2:39

‘Black Man’s Cry -the inspiration of Fela Kuti ‘ -Now Again NA 5056 -2010 USA. Hardbound book with CD and 4 10″ LP Box Set.

text contains excerpts from the original liner notes by Egon 

Stimela -Look, Listen And Decide 1986

stimela -look listen and decide
French Celluloid release

 


This album has been on my turntable for the last past days and its appeal is growing with each spin. I find it hard to resist the magic coming out of these grooves; jazz, funk, afro-beat; definitely a fusion of styles that blends into a gentle South African swing. 

Each of the featured tracks are winners, especially the bassline and close harmony singing on ‘Sishovingolovane’   and the comical funky mood of ‘Who Is Fooling You’  as well as the title track ‘Look, Listen And Decide’. Each track on this rare album deserves your attention so featured here today. Enjoy!

 

Stimela – Look, Listen And Decide

A1            Look, Listen And Decide        

A2            Who Is Fooling You

B1            Whispers In The Deep         

B2            Sishovingolovane          

B3            Nkata Mgreeka “Danger Signs”

Gallo – HUL 40109 -released in  South Africa 1986

Stimela, the Zulu word for “locomotive”,  is a South African Afro-fusion band, founded by Ray Phiri in 1982 after his previous band  The Cannibals, the soul music giants of the 70’s, disbanded.

 Stimela have since become little short of an institution in South Africa. Born and raised in Mpumalanga Phiri used to dance to his troubadour father’s puppet shows and had his first break in 1962 when he managed to dance for the legendary Dark City Sisters when they performed in Mpumalanga. From this performance he made enough money giving him a chance to travel to Johannesburg and start his own band.

Phiri, along with Jabu Sibume on bass, Isaac Mtshali on drums, and Lloyd Lelosa on keyboards were The Cannibals and during this time the group supplied instrumental accompaniment on recordings of other artists including Irene Mawela and the Mahotella Queens. The four joined forces with vocalist Jacob “Mparanyana” Radabe in 1975, continuing to work together for four more years until Mparanyana’s untimely death at the peak of his career. In 1982, renamed as Stimela, the band was further expanded with the addition of Thabelo Kgomo and Charlie Ndlovu on keyboards.
In 1985 the American singer and musician Paul Simon asked Phiri, along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to join his Graceland project, a hugely successful project that helped a number of South African artists to make names for themselves abroad. Phiri was the arranger of the Graceland album and he collaborated with Paul Simon again on Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints album, which saw Phiri tour for six months and perform on stages such as Central Park and Madison Square Garden, in Europe (1987) and the Soviet Union (1989), as well as appearing on top television shows in the US.

Although largely inactive nowadays, the mbaqanga/jazz/fusion band occasionally still appears on stage.

As  Phiri explains, “We all have different things that we do in life. Stimela is an institution and therefore we will come together if there’s something we want to achieve.”

Source:  http://www.gallomusicpublishers.co.za/

BUY ALBUM HERE and HERE

Members

 Ray Phiri -lead guitar, lead vocals

Isaac “Mnca” Mtshali -drummer

Thabo Lloyd Lelosa –keyboards

Jabu Sibumbe – bass guitar

Nana Coyote – lead vocals

Thapelo Kgomo – keyboards

Charlie Ndlovu – organ

Ntokozo Zungu – lead guitar

 

  

more Fela Kuti -“Monkey Banana” on Coconut Records, Nigeria 1975

thanks for all the comments and requests for more Fela Kuti. You have asked for it so here it is; a rare 12″ released by Coconut Records in 1975 in Nigeria. The 12″ features the track “Sense Wiseness” on the B-side.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana/Sense Wiseness

Coconut Records PMLP 1001 -Nigeria 1975

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976 and Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization on Kalakuta Records Nigeria

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere -November 28th 1983

 Image 1 FELA KUTI & AFRICA 70 MONKEY BANANA LP ! RARE AFROBEAT
FELA KUTI & AFRICA 70 MONKEY BANANA

Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

he died in 1997 at the age of 59, leaving behind an imperishable work of musical genius, more modern than ever. He developed his own style which evolved over the years into a separate genre of music, Afro-beat.

Through his music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, unanimously recognized as king of Afro-beat, was renown to pass messages through his music that were both spiritual and anti-government.

Overcoming the countless brutality he was subjected to during his life, Fela was unquestionably the voice the most famous and most effective of the African cause around the world. The many tours that he undertook in Europe and the United States have contributed crucially to know, recognize and appreciate the music and culture of Africa and Nigeria in particular.

In a sarcastic style that belongs only to him, Fela condemned Africans unable to fight for their rights as men in that typical mix of Yoruba and Pidgin English.

Yellow Fever

some Africans use all sorts of chemicals to lighten their skin, so it is the closest possible to the skin color of  a white person and  this practice is called ‘yellow fever’.

Fela condemns this practice in the song ‘ Yellow Fever’  first and foremost to demonstrate a denial of the pride of being Black and second because it is like a disease such as jaundice or malaria.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Africa 70 -Yellow Fever

lyrics ‘Yellow Fever’

Different different fever na him dey

Malaria fever nko?

Hay fever nko?

Inflation fever nko?

Jundis fever nko?

Freedom fever nko?

Yellow fever nko?

na him dey bring the matter now he dey

I say tell dem make dem hear you say

all fever na sickness -original sickness

malaria na sickness -original sickness

hay fever na sickness -original sickness

inflation na sickness -original sickness

influenza na sickness -original sickness

jundis na sickness -original sickness

freedom na sickness -original sickness

yellow fever nko? say original and artificial he dey

 

Original catch you, your eyes go yellow, your face go go yellow, your body go weak.

But later if you no die inside, the yellow fever go fade away

Artificial catch you, you be man or woman na you go catch am yourself.

Na your money go do am for you.

You go yellow pass yellow. You go get moustache for face.

You go get your double colour. Your yansh go black like coal.

You self go think say you dey fine. Who say you fine?

Na lie you no fine at all at all na lie

my sister who say you fine?

yellow fever you dey bleach you dey bleach

Sisi wey dey go you dey bleach you dey bleach

stupid thing, yeye thing, ugly thing, fucking thing

now let’s get down to the on the ground spiritual game

everybody etc…

 from the album Yellow Fever -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Afrika 70 -Decca Afrodisia 1976 (DWAPS 2004)

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere taken in Amsterdam November 28th 1983

Readers Post -William Onyeabor- “Anything You Sow”

Today I want to share some interesting news out of Soul Safari’s mailbox; your comments, requests and music….keep sending!

here’s a hot tip from my collector friend MP Flapp from Very Good Plus

Did you spot the reissue of William Onyeabor- “Anything You Sow”? (ONYEABOR) I believe it is a bootleg. I got my copy today from Honest Jons – what a fantastic LP -stuck an odd branch in African music – the lyrics as well as the music are really a treat.

William Onyeabor was Nigerian. The other LP I’d love is called
“Atomic Bomb”. I first discovered him via the “World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s a Real Thing” compilation. It has the track “Better Change Your Mind” on it which is just out of this world – both lyrically and musically.

It was the friend Mark Crumbie (Baxter on VG+) who pointed me towards a download of the “Anything you Sow” LP – out of the blue the LP gets a re-issue last week. I hadn’t really looked through his discography as the first things I saw listed were those super rare LPs from Nigeria that had never been re-issued in any format. The “Anything you Sow” LP has elements of TGs “Hot on the heels of love” in the mix with low fi synch feel, but a proper funk under current.

12 more gems for hunters & collectors

Last weekend was like this; a 3 day ARC record-collector fair. 600 stalls filled by international sellers with millions of records and CD’s, a never ending selection of top end pieces exchanging hands, madness all over the place and then the sale on sunday still had to start. From silly prices to bargains,  if one has patience and knows where to dig…

here are 12 more gems for hunters & collectors, spotted at  the Spring edition 2011 ARC record collector fair, Utrecht Holland.

Blue Elephant -Manu Dibango 1974

in my previous post on the Blue Elephant label I promised to highlight the Manu Dibango album (BE 877 041).  A few readers reacted eagerly to see and hear more, so here it is.

For some mysterious reasons the same album got a release on Pink Elephant (PE 877 068) as well. It is self-titled and the songs were recorded in Paris at the Sofrason Studios in 1973. Parts of this album originally appeared as the album “Makossa Man” (Fiesta 360 048, France) while “Pepe Soup” was added to the US release with the same title.  The Dutch release on Blue Elephant has  “New Bell”, “O Boso” as extra additions and a few other alternative tracks which make this album quite unique.

Manu Dibango album  Blue Elephant(BE 877 041)

side 1

1. New Bell

2. Pepe Soup

3. Sango Pous Pous

4. Mwassa Makossa

5. Ashiko Go

side 2

1. O Boso

2. Weya

3. Dangwa

4. Senga

5. Soul Makossa

All titles by Manu Dibango. Produced by J.P.Martin. Original Sofrason Recording 1973. Released in Holland 1974.