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2007 - week 32, from 11 August

PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:49 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Andy Palacio - Watina - Watina - Belize - Cumbancha - CMB-CD 3

2 - Baranta - Samanfowe RAW MIX - Spirit of Music - Ghana/UK - Sultan - promo

3 - Oi Va Voi - Dissident (feat Agi Szaloki) - Oi Va Voi - UK - V2 - V V R 1046242

4 - Yerba Buena - El Burrito - Follow Me - USA/Venezuela - Wrasse - WRASS 194

5 - Sèyfu Yohannès - Mela Mela - Very Best of Ethiopiques - Ethiopia - Manteca - MANTDCD245

6 - Smadj - Hat - Smadj presents S.O.S. - Tunis/Turkey - Doublemoon - DM0032
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Andy Palacio (second from right) and Paul Nabor (far right)
[photo courtesy www.afropop.org]

Having missed Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective from Belize when they were in the UK earlier this year, I heard conflicting reports. Some were disappointed that Andy’s performance wasn’t as immaculate as on the album, others were enchanted by the contribution of veteran Paul Nabor. Either way, the album remains one of the best of the year, with the title track still holding its power to attract and hold attention.

Back in the mid 1980s, I used to trawl the Ghanaian grocery stores of South London in search of current albums that could not be found in mainstream record shops. I confess that I’ve grown lazy since then, mostly depending on people sending me records through the post, and I don’t get many from Ghanaian producers. But the people at Sultan studios in North London have remembered to send me Spirit of Music by the Baranta project, a collaboration of musicians originally from Sierra Leone and Kenya and well as Ghana. ‘Samanfowe’ has that unmistakable hi life shuffle, reminiscent of the 1978 classic Hi Life Safari by Eric Agyeman. I must dig that out to play it again, but meanwhile here’s veteran guitarist Alfred ‘Kari’ Bannerman proving that he hasn’t lost his chops.

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Agi Szaloki

Oi Va Voi is a UK-based project whose Yiddish name reveals their Jewish connections. On their debut album they were fortunate to be able to grab K.T.Tunstall to sing lead on several tracks before she set off on her own solo career. They still don’t have a singer of their own, and on much of their second album, they sound like a fairly typical UK group. Among the more distinctive tracks, the first single ‘Yuri’ has a brash Balkan beat, but I prefer the ballad ‘Dissident’, featuring the affecting lead vocal of Hungarian singer Agi Szaloki.

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Yerba Buena

Based in New York, and led by Venezuelan Andre Levin, Yerba Buena is another project featuring several guest vocalists, and their album Follow Me is consequently uneven. But when it’s good, it’s very good, as on ‘El Burrito’ – ‘The Donkey’ – as featured on the front cover following a bikini-clad Latin lovely down a city street, with old fashioned record decks in panniers to provide the entertainment for her headphones.

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Ethiopiques is the impressive series of albums compiled by French obsessive, Francis Falceto, from material recorded in Ethiopia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Having reached volume 20, and watching with satisfaction as Mahmoud Ahmed is belatedly recognised as one of Africa’s great artists, Francis has culled the set down to a 2xCD set for the ever-enterprising British compilation company Union Square Music. Hearing the music in a different sequence has brought news songs to the surface, in particular Sèyfu Yohannès’s powerfully rhythmic recording of ‘Mela Mela’, previously known as one of Mahmoud Ahmed’s most famous hits.

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S.O.S: Orhan Osman, Smadj, Savas Zumaci

We finish with another artist who recently played live in London, the Tunisian oud player and lap top wizard, Smadj, whose collaboration with Turkish musicians on the album Smadj presents S.O.S. sounds like his best yet.