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2010 - week 09, from 27 Feb – World Music Hits 2 (rpt)

PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:04 am
by Alan
World Service Week 9 from 27 February 2010 – World Music Hits Vol 2 (repeat)

posted on behalf of CG - the second in our occasional series of World Hits, featuring records that went far beyond the country or context in which they were initially recorded. When the programme was first broadcast in 2008, I wrote the notes below, CG

Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no - Website

Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa - The Very Best of Manu Dibango - Cameroon - Wrasse - WRASS 115 -

Gipsy Kings - Bamboleo - Greatest Hits - France - Columbia - COL 477242 2 -

Carlos Gardel - Volver - The best of Carlos Gardel - Argentina - EMI Hemisphere - 7243 8 23505 2 -

Amalia Rodrigues - Barco Negro - The Art of Amalia - Portugal - EMI Hemisphere - 7243 4 95771 2 -

Lord Shorty - Om Shanti - Soca Explosion - Trinidad - Charlie's - CR 1004 -

Tabou Combo - New York City - 8th Sacrement - Haiti - Decca - SKL R 5227 -
This is Charlie's bulletin from the original show ... =15March08

The second in our bi-monthly series of World Hits, featuring records that went far beyond the country or context in which they were initially recorded.

Image Manu Dibango

‘Soul Makossa’ has one of the unlikeliest stories of any hit, ever. The song was first recorded by Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango in a few minutes at the end of a session, as the B-side to a song commissioned as a celebration of the Cameroon football team’s involvement in the Africa Nations Cup, 1972. The A-side was quickly forgotten after the competition ended, but ‘Soul Makossa’ was so popular in clubs, Manu went back into a studio to record it properly. This time he nailed it, and then watched with bemusement as it started sell despite all the disinterest of his French record label, Decca. After a few copies crossed the Atlantic and started to get played in clubs in Miami and New York, a cover version by a bunch of LA session musicians cheekily calling themselves Afrique actually hit the charts. Finally Atlantic licensed Manu’s original, which went on to reach the American top 40, a very rare achievement for a bona fide African record. A few years later, Michael Jackson and his producer Quincy Jones used the ‘mama-ko-mama-sa’ hook in ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ on the album, Thriller, with no credit listed to Manu as co-writer. He sued, and his claim was upheld. But whether Manu was paid a royalty or just a one-off fee, I don’t know.. On the best-selling album of all time, with sales reportedly over 100 million, any kind of royalty would make Manu a rich man. And unlike the moon-walking artist, I bet he spent his windfall wisely.

Image Nicolas Reyes (of The Gipsy Kings)

‘Bamboleo’ by the Gipsy Kings is the tale of ‘Soul Makossa’ in reverse, being partly based on another song, ‘Caballero Viejo’ by the Venezuelan singer, Simón Diás. It’s continually astonishing how many song-writers keeping lifting bits of other people’s songs without apparently realising that they must share the spoils with the original writer. The story of the Gipsy Kings is possibly the most remarkable of any artist in the World Music era, as they have sold millions of albums of Spanish-language songs throughout the world without ever surrendering to sing in English. It feels like some sort of crime that British radio steadfastly refused to recognise their popularity.

Image Carlos Gardel

The next two songs reach back to the time when British radio ranged across all styles and languages, playing occasional tango, fado and flamenco singers alongside the pop of Perry and Bing, Doris and Rosemary, Frank and Dean. The Argentinean singer Carlos Gardel was feted throughout the world, particularly in France, actually his country of birth, where he was reputedly the lover of Edith Piaf for some years. I haven’t seen the Piaf biopic whose star won the Oscar for Best Female Actor, but gather that there’s no reference to Gardel in the narrative. ‘Volver’, his biggest hit (1934), was recently revived as the title song of a film by Pedro Almodovar.

Image Amalia Rodrigues

The new fado star Mariza is always keen to acclaim her greatest inspiration, the Portuguese singer Amalia Rodrigues, and includes several of her songs in her own repertoire. Mariza sings ‘Barco Negro’ with a similar percussion-based arrangement to Amalia’s 1954 recording, but the original version is probably impossible to beat.

Image Ras Shorty (formerly Lord Shorty)

When I first started playing what we now call world music on the radio in the early 1980s, I was heavily into Trinidadian soca, which offered a welcome, more joyous alternative to Jamaican reggae. Among the people I championed were Arrow, Explainer and Blue Boy, but the widely acknowledged pioneer of soca was Lord Shorty, whose landmark track was ‘Om Shanti’, a tribute to the Indian meditation chant (recorded in 1978).

Image Tabou Combo

When I found a Decca 45 by a group called the Tabou Combo in a second hand record shop in 1975, I bought it with no idea what it might sound like. ‘New York City’ was a live recording, divided into ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’, and featured one of the strangest guitar sounds I’d ever heard. Tracking down the album 8th Sacrement, I saw that the group was said to come from Petionville; but where was that? Playing ‘New York City’ in its entirety on the radio, I asked if anybody knew and was informed that the town is just outside Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Recording for Mini Records in New York ever since those early days, the Tabou Combo is still going strong, having remained Haiti’s most famous group (*) for almost forty years.

(*) as the programme was recorded long before the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti, no mention was made of it.


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