Page 1 of 5

World music before world music

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 1:42 pm
by Neil Foxlee
Suggestions for a (virtual) compilation of World music before "world music"?
ie African, Latin &c UK/US pop hits before the concept of world music emerged. Eg Miriam Makeba's Pata Pata, Hugh Masakela's Grazing In The Grass, Peanut Vendor ... well, that's three for starters, but there must be many more

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:08 pm
by Martin_Edney
I suppose one of the earlier chart invasions here in Britain that I'm aware of from a non-UK, non-North American, non-European source was the Jamaican hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

You could easily fill an album with these, but a couple of suggestions to mull over include

Pop A Top - Andy Capp
Return of Django - Lee Perry
Israelites - Desmond Dekker
Jammin' - Bob Marley & The Wailers
My Boy Lollipop - Millie Small
Young, Gifted and Black - Bob & Marcia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:18 pm
by NormanD
"Tom Hark" by Elias & His ZigZag Jive Flutes was a radio hit in the late 1950s, a great piece of South African penny whistling.

What was the name of the S African musical that came here in the early 60s? King Kong? The one about a boxer?

And then there was that Eartha Kitt version of a Turkish song.

And "Mustafa" was mentioned here recently.

World musice before world music

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:24 pm
by Neil Foxlee
I should have specified that I wasn't thinking about Jamaican music, which obviously is in a category of its own as regards penetration of the pop charts pre-'World Music'.

Talking of which, I remember the days when 'world music' before it acquired the name was available in a rack in Dillons bookshop in London in much the same way as you still find non-French albums in a section labelled 'Variete internationale' in French CD shops and departments.

Pre-'world music', though, there were occasional records that broke through, odd South African ones like the ones I mentioned, but mainly Latin & Caribbean, on the back of various crazes (mambo, calypso etc.) Who can come up with more of these? Don't think Ritchie Valens' La Bamba quite qualifies (he didn't even speak Spanish), but you get the idea.

Tom Hark & Skokiaan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:35 pm
by Neil Foxlee
On Tom Hark, see
and (African Music on 45 rpm records in the UK, 1954-1981 - now there's a source for a potential Honest Jons compilation).

Another example would be Skokiaan, written by August Musarurwa and first recorded by the African Dance Band of the Cold Storage Commission of Southern Rhodesia (!), recut by Musarurwa and the Bulawayo Sweet Rhythms Band for Gallo in 1954, and then covered in the US by Ralph Marterie (reaching #3 on the chart), by Ray Anthony (whose version reached #18), and by Cuban-Mexican Perez Prado (whose version reached #26). During the same year Louis Armstrong recorded a Dixieland version that reached #29.
(Info from - read on)

Another is New Year Rock - Little Kid Lex (Capitol 1958).

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:39 pm
by Rob Hall
"Je T'aime" was a hit, and there were others by The Singing Nun, Nana Mouskouri (sp?), etc. "Je T'Aime" should probably get in under the wire on account of it being in a foreign language - pretty unusual when you consider how conservative the charts are.

There's also "Tom Hark" by Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes, Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakamoto, Zorba's Dance" by Marcello Minerbi.

(If you wanted to be inclusive and count English Folk as world music, you could include "The Floral Dance" by Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.)

Edit: Apologies - I delayed posting and missed the discussion on "Tom Hark" which took place while I delayed.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:11 pm
by Neil Foxlee
Skokiaan was also covered by Bert Kaempfert, who did a lot of South African kwela in a big-band easy-listening style, and on whom here's some fascinating (?) trivia.

In 1961, Bert Kaempfert hired The Beatles to back Tony Sheridan on "My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)," "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry for a Shadow," in a session for Polydor, the Beatles' first commercial recordings. He also wrote the original of Elvis's Wooden Heart.

Kaempfert sidekick Yugoslav Croatian Ivo Robić was nicknamed "Mister Morgen" following the success of his first international hit, "Morgen" ("tomorrow"), in 1959. Following its success in Germany, the German-language version became a #13 hit on the popular charts in the United States and earned both artists a Gold Record. An English version, "One More Sunrise", sung by Leslie Uggams, reached #98 on the same charts.
Robic was also responsible for the original of Strangers In The Night.

Which reminds me that My Way is an English-language version of a French song called Comme d'habitude.... Which takes us a little way from 'world music' as we think of it today, but shows that musical cross-fertilization is nothing new....

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:29 pm
by Neil Foxlee
Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa is more the sort of thing I'm thinking of.

A fascinating but irrelevant snippet from ... tern_music - worth reading more.

Queen Lili'uokalani (1838-1917), the last Queen of Hawaii before the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown. A musician and composer, she is credited as the composer of the unofficial Hawaiian anthem "Aloha 'Oe". Lili'uokalani indeed wrote the lyrics and arranged the music but in fact she appropriated the tune from a Croatian folk song called "Sidi Mara na kamen studencu".

There must be some Hawaiian US hits.

Can we try and divide this up into:

1) genuine early 'world music' crossover hits such as Pata Pata, Grazing In the Grass, Tom Hark, Soul Makossa...

2) hit Western adaptations of early 'world music' that didn't make the US/UK charts in its original form (Wimoweh, Skokiaan, Afrikaan Beat, Peanut Vendor, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, the Andrews Sisters' Rum & Coca Cola...)

3) European crossovers that wouldn't qualify as 'world music' these days (The Singing Nun, Je T'Aime...)

I think this would clarify matters. I await Charlie's intervention (and contributions to 1) and 2) ).

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:34 pm
by uiwangmike
I'm sure Charlie remembers the time when you just couldn't get away from this in one language or another.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:35 pm
by Rob Hall
I think I just heard the sound of goalposts being shifted...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:41 pm
by Neil Foxlee
I just didn't like to think of Miriam Makeba in the same bag as the Singing Nun...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:47 pm
by uiwangmike
Another one I remember from the early 50s.,_Rose,_I_Love_You

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:00 pm
by judith
Sukiyaki - Kyu Sakamoto

Topped the charts in the early 60's, lyrics entirely in Japanese which did not stop us from singing right along. Didn't even seem unusual at the time.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:19 pm
by Rob Hall
Neil Foxlee wrote:I just didn't like to think of Miriam Makeba in the same bag as the Singing Nun...
Actually, the Singing Nun's story is rather interesting and ultimately quite tragic:

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:07 pm
by Nick Boyes
I don't know how far back you all are going but in my disco 12in single buying phase collection are
Sakhile by Sakhile on Jive Africa 1982
Highlife Time by George Darko on Oval records 1984

The above must have been playing at the Lacy Lady or the Caister weekenders for me to have rushed out to buy.
Come to think of it Tony Blackburn may have even been spinning them on his Radio London show !!!