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2008 - week 18, from Sunday 4 May

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 12:37 pm
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Orchestre Super Jheevs Des Paillotes - Ye Nan Lon An - African Scream Contest - Benin - Analog Africa - AACD 063

2 - Sister Fa - Selebou Yoon - Many Lessons - Senegal - Piranha - CD-PR2112

3 - Carmen Miranda - Cozinheira Granfina - Carmen Miranda - Brazil - Harlequin - HQCD 33

4 - CeU - Bobagem - CeU - Brazil - What Music - WMCD-0095

5 - Conjunto Casino - Moliendo Café - Cuban Pearls Vol 2 - Cuba - Syllart - 6133122

6 - DeVotchKa - Undone - A Mad and Faithful Telling - USA - Anti - 6940-2

7 - Le Trio Joubran - Laytana - Majâz - France - Randana - RAND 002


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What’s going on? Each month this year has brought at least one substantial compilation of West African music from the 1970s – at least three from Nigeria and this one, African Scream Contest, from Benin and Togo. Why now? This music has been sitting around for thirty years, more or less forgotten, but suddenly three or four European obsessives made pilgrimages to the countries in question, searching though market stalls and private collections for rare 45s, then tracking down record label founders, band-leaders, singers and musicians to obtain permission and arrange payment for the re-release of material they themselves had long ago stopped thinking about.

These albums are not the first of their kind – there had been other compilations from Nigeria and Ghana in recent years, but they mostly focussed on records that sounded as much as possible like American funk or Fela Kuti’s Afro-Beat. What’s different about these latest albums is their wider range, including hi-life and even traditional rhythms. Among the revelations on African Scream Contest Orchestre is this band from Benin, Super Jheevs Des Paillotes.

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Sister Fa

While one set of compilers dig into the past, a clutch of mostly German enthusiasts gives us a glimpse of the present. Over the past five years, both Trikont and Out Here released African hip hop albums, and now Piranha joins the party with Many Lessons: Hiphop - Islam - West Africa. The ponderous rhythms of hip-hop weigh down many of the tracks, but Sister Fa’s song is free of such confinements.

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Carmen Miranda

After hearing a vintage Carmen Miranda track, played on a recent programme from a compilation, listener Paul Sharratt kindly sent an entire album by her, confirming a vocalist who was much more than just a singing hat-stand.

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CéU

Amongst several young Brazilian singers aiming to free themselves from the constricting formulas of samba and bossa nova, CéU seems to have the most convincing style of her own. Originally from São Paolo, she lives in New York. Still obscure in the UK, she is making strides in both the US, where her debut album was released in association with the dreaded Starbucks, and Canada, where it made the pop charts. ‘Bobagem’ is from her second album, due for imminent release.

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Conjunto Casino

Fascinated by the piano intro of ‘Moliendo Café’ by Conjunto Casino, recorded in Cuba in 1938, I played it Radio 3 back to back with ‘Hit the Road Jack’ by Ray Charles, which used almost exactly the same melodic figure in 1960. Not a single listener made any comment, making me wonder if the similarity was either not as close as I thought, or not as interesting.

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DeVotchKa

I had never heard of DeVotchKa until A Mad and Faithful Telling arrived in the mail. Impressed both by their songs and their adventurous arrangements (violin, accordion, mariachi trumpets), I investigated and learned that this is their fifth album, that they provided the score for the Award-winning ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and that they spent their formative years as the back-up musicians at burlesque shows. They are from Colorado, and reviewers have bracketed them with other American groups that include gypsy and Balkan flavours in their music, notably A Hawk and a Hacksaw and Beirut. But DeVotchKa songs and the voice of their lead singer Nick Urata are so much better, they belong in a category of one. In ‘Undone’, the narrator talks to whoever is watching over his imminent death – “father you know what I have done, you know I never hurt no-one….what I’ve stolen won’t be missed….â€

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 7:24 pm
by nikki akinjinmi
Charlie wrote:
What’s going on? Each month this year has brought at least one substantial compilation of West African music from the 1970s – at least three from Nigeria and this one, African Scream Contest, from Benin and Togo. Why now? This music has been sitting around for thirty years, more or less forgotten, but suddenly three or four European obsessives made pilgrimages to the countries in question, searching though market stalls and private collections for rare 45s, then tracking down record label founders, band-leaders, singers and musicians to obtain permission and arrange payment for the re-release of material they themselves had long ago stopped thinking about.


I have been wondering about this too.

Apologies for slightly going off topic, but I noticed a new compilation about West African music in the UK in the early part of the 20th century, which is coming, or may have already come out.

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 7:37 pm
by c hristian
been asking myself the same question, but, i have not a huge basis of comparison.

emails

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2008 3:29 pm
by Charlie
emails from

1. Chuck Tellechea, Leesburg, VA USA

Wow, I finally found your webpage. I was thoroughly stunned by the Devotcka Song you played, last Sunday morning at 2:55 AM EST. I was searching every where for the name. I'm going to buy all their stuff now on iTunes, thanks so much for showcasing such interesting music. Also, Molienda Cafe' was very cool. I am Cuban born so It really resonates :)

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2. Anonymous

It is great to see the world with the heart not the eyes. Thank you for all the good sounds.

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3. GUY WAKELIN, SOMERSHAM CAMBS

DEAR CHARLIE I LISTEN EVERY MONDAY IN MY TRUCK AND EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU PLAY A TRACK THAT BLOWS MY MIND AND I DISCOVER ANEW ARTIST YOU GOT ME IN TO SEA SICK STEVE NOW I HAVE JUST RECEIVED SA DING DING I JUST COULD NOT GET THAT SOUND OUT OF MY HEAD THE ALBUM IS FANTASTIC THANK YOU FOR OPENING MY EYES AND EARS TO SOME INCREDIBLE MUSIC I RATE YOU UP THERE WITH THE LATE JOHN PEEL GREAT SHOW THANKS GUY

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 12:18 pm
by mike gavin
I think the renewed interest in old African records (and it's instructive to look at the kind of old African records that are being reissued by labels such as Soundways) goes back to the reissue of the Fela Kuti back catalogue on vinyl, what, 10 years ago. Working at the time in Ray's Jazz Shop we started to get pestered by DJs who previously had mined the rare groove/funk areas. Suddenly African LPs and 45s were valuable. It's these guys who, rather like the Nick Pearls', John Fahey's and Chris Strachwitz's of a previous generation did with blues, are now out and about in West Africa advertising for old records. Check this blog for an insight into how it works:
http://www.voodoofunk.blogspot.com/

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 10:18 pm
by Eddie Punch
Le Trio Joubran

For anyone who was even more disapointed than the Trio Jourban at not hearing the whole track, here is a link to their "YouTube" pieces via their own website. http://www.letriojoubran.com/en/video.html

Take a look at the website documentary about the group as well.