What or who was it that first made you sit up and listen to this stuff?
I mentioned in a previous post that "The Indestructable Beat of Soweto" and the "WOMAD Talking Book - Africa" opened up a world of possibilities for me when they appeared.
However, I was reminded the other day of Osibisa. I caught them on their first tour over here. I was a callow youth at the time and my taste in music was pretty dire, but something tweaked my curiosity that night. In the event, the performing space was such that I was able to sit virtually amongst them as they played and I remember that my face hurt at the end of the show from grinning so much. These guys were just so damned happy and it was highly infectious - they weren't joking when they described their sound as: "criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness".
I see that they have a website and are still working - I wonder what they sound like now?
For me it was John Peel playing the likes of King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti and Segun Adewale in about 82/83. I found myself listening out and hoping for tracks from Africa to break the monotony of yet more tedious indie bands. I think they were different enough to be interesting, but at the same time used instrumentation that we were used to, so the breach was crossed quite easily. It was probably the kora and Jali Musa Jawara (or Djeli Moussa Diawara as it was Francophonetically spelt at the time) who really broke down the listening barriers for good. If as an ex-punk rock fan I could get lost in an 11-minute call-and-response ballad sung in a foreign language with rhythms and melodies I'd never known before, then suddenly anything was possible. It was like using listening muscles I never knew I had....:-)
In those days one had to visit Sterns in order to get the records because nobody outside of London seemed to stock them. Then of course Charlie started his Foreign Affair (if I remember correctly) on Capital and not long after that Andy Kershaw came along. It's been a voyage of discovery ever since.....
First, Iâ€™m new here, but I just wanted to say I love Charlieâ€™s show and also enjoy the discussions on this forum. I live in the States (originally from Philadelphia but now live near Washington DC) so I canâ€™t catch his show on the radio; I have to convert it to MP3 format and then play it on my iPod. US radio is just terrible, so itâ€™s worth it.
Second, in answer to your question Rob, I was heavily influenced by Peter Gabrielâ€™s Passion. I wasnâ€™t really a big Peter Gabriel fan, but after I graduated from college I found myself bored with stuff that I used to listen to â€“ the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. I started getting into jazz, but didnâ€™t know how to approach world music. Then Passion came out and I was hooked â€“ I bought Passion Sources, some other stuff on the Realworld label, and that got me going. The Internet has been a godsend in staying up with (for lack of a better word) world music.
And Conmurph, what is it about ex punks and world music? I was also of the punk persuasion back in 77. Maybe it's just an openness to new things. Most punks I knew were also into dub reggae (in some ways the absolute opposite to punk being slow and full of space rather than fast and full-on) shows a desire to have listening horizons expanded.
Before I was even into pop or rock as a ten year old I was a huge fan of the Tarzan TV series as much for the epic conga-driven theme tune as for Tarzan itself. As soon as that music kicked in, it served to convince you of how exciting the next fifty minutes were going to be. The next fifty minutes would then be crippled by budget restrictions, wooden acting and often repeated stock footage of crocs sliding into rivers. But the music would then come in again at the end and make you instantly forget that what had just passed hadn't quite lived up to expectations.
Then over the years I've heard the odd song or album that was pleasingly different from my staple diet. For example Byrne and Eno's intricate and scary Afrobeat sound collages on 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'(1982) and the spectacularly unjazzy jazz album 'The African Beat' by Art Blakey and The Afrobeat Ensemble (1962) which I discovered around the same time. Most of you probably know the Eno/Byrne album but if you don't know the Art Blakey one check it out. The production is amazing - huge drum sound (think 'Flowers of Romance') and a wonderful loose African feel throughout. So unbelievable that it was made in 1962.
But the real turning point for me occurred at a free festival in Battersea Park on a perfect sun-filled day in 1985.
The crystalline sound of the mbira-imitating guitars of Thomas Mapfumo's band reached my ears five minutes before I reached the place where this magical sound was coming from. I can even recall the pleasure of the sound slowly coming into focus the nearer I got to it's source. Having pessimistically expected this distant clarion call would eventually cohere into something more banal (just as a pub rock band can sometimes sound far more intriguing from the loo) I became even more entranced by it's bubbling brook of interwoven elements the closer I got. How could a sound be so sinuous and muscular while also being so delicate and pretty? And how could it be so different from anything I'd heard before while still using the basic core ingredients of pop and rock - guitars, bass and drums?
I was initially disappointed when I couldn't find a Mapfumo album that captured the spaciousness of what I'd heard that afternoon. But then I realised I wanted the impossible - I wanted the music, but I also wanted the air, space and sunlight that it had inhabited. A vinyl facsimile, though tinny and disappointingly small sounding, would have to do.
But the point was I was hooked. Hooked not just on Mapfumo's music or even African music generally, but hooked on finding more new sounds. Anything which took the tired constituents of the music I was familiar with, shook them up and produced something entirely new.
And yes, I too had the Soweto compilation Rob. How come we all had it and yet I don't remember it being heavily promoted at the time? It must have been one of those miraculous word-of-mouth things.
Who knows why people are more open, although the Punk/Dub/Reggae axis always intrigued me to. I remember going to see Jah Shaka Sound System and being amazed that records could be played that loud. First album that did it for me - Ajomase by Gaspar Lawal in 1980 which sent me all the way up the Tottenham Court Road to Sterns _ I still have it on vinyl although I'd love to have it on cd so I can load it on my MP3 player. The second was aorund 1982 Latin Connection by the Fania All Stars which I bought in the Fnac in Paris because it was being played. That was when music from Zaire and Cuba were much mor readily available in France - Now that I do have parts of it on a Charly re-release ......and it's on the MP3 player right now!
Talking of parts of an album, there's another that I was very fond of years ago, that I have only managed to track down in part on a "Best of" set. It's "Man from Waraika" by Rico and - if I remember rightly - he was a performer at Charlie's Clapham Common get-together around the time of its release ('77?). I picked up a copy of the dub version on that day which I still have, but for some reason I've lost the original somewhere down the line. The bits that I do have on a CD called "Rico - Roots to the Bone" still sound great.
Although I didn't see them live, I rememeber Osibisa played regular college gigs in Guildford during the mid-1970s. Interesting to hear that they're still around. I must try and go and see them.
Early world music live experiences for me included a great King Sunny Ade gig at the Lyceum in the early 80s and Youssou N' Dour at a Womad festival, which also featured Ivor Cutler and Souxsie & the Banshees.
As well as Charlie and Peel's programmes, I seem to recall that the NME used to have some coverage of African music in the early 1980s too (didn't the Bhundu Boys once feature on an NME cover?). For me, the NME's All Africa Radio cassette compilation was a great introduction to the variety of music available. This tape still sounded great when I was listening to it the other day.
there was definitely something about the punk days that shattered preconceptions about what was worth listening to
thinking about it there was a period after the first fury. when it was suddenly ok to like any kind of music
for me it was access to reggae, peter tosh, tapper zukie (never really marley - don't know why, too 'pop' or something) that started a long slow arc through dancehall to rap to tripping over charlie's show in the late 90s
I saw king sunny ade one memorable summer afternoon at glastonbury in 81 (?) but I guess the experience lay dormant - connections sometimes get fired later, joining up the pieces
I still have an unquenchable thirst to hear new sounds, I never really go back to the stops along the way though. The reaction is visceral, not really geared to 'I like category X music' (which is why the old "what is world music?" debate is both engaging and irrelevant)
when charlie played 'my boy lollipop' a couple of years back it hit my like a train (a happy, smiley, sing along train that convinced my kids that dad was truly mental) - i remember jigging around mum's living room at the age of 4 to what was then, by most current definitons, World Music
To anyone under 40, the replys to this topic must come across as a load of old farts wallowing in nostalga but to this elder citizen I'll admit it has quite a draw. Following on from the great artists & sounds already mentioned, does anyone out there recall Virgin Records attempts to cash in on African music with Orchertra Makassy's - Agwaya & particularly the opener, Mambo Bado. Parties in 1982 were not complete without it round these parts.
While my exposure to Punk in the late 70's was unavoidably large, I was that hippie at gigs & would much rather have been at home with my Beefheart records(+ along with many other hippie friends at the time a fair bit of reggae). I admit this shameful fact because I have always been interested in a comment of a contempary of mine when I complained that the Bundu Boys just didn't do it for me compared to King Sunny,Fela Kuti & Franco. He was pretty certain that the reason was that I as a hippie was more tolerant of "long meandering music"(I think he implied that different drug consumption may have had something to do with it as well) while the Bundu Boys were the true inheritors of Punk.
All I can say David is that the title of this particular feedback topic rather precludes anything other than nostalgic retrospection!
If you look at other topics here, I think you'll agree that most comments are focused on the here and now. For me this is the appeal of most of the stuff Charlie plays, particularly in the rather irritatingly named 'fusion' side of things. It's all to do with NOW - it's witnessing different musical DNA making connections and forging new genres with every passing record. Personally I've never understood why there is so much standing still in music apart from for commercial reasons - once you've found something that sells, just keep on selling it.
So I would say this particular bunch of 40 somethings, while enjoying an invitation to rattle on about what first re-tuned their musical antennae, are nevertheless as interested in the future as they are the past, otherwise they'd be at the Capital Gold feedback site (if there is such a thing) raving about a 1977 Clash gig that resulted in them never missing the John Peel show for the next 25 years.
Very amusing of you to admit to your closet love of Beefheart during the punk years. The man in many ways now stands up as a more radical, innovative and idiosyncratic force than 98% of those punk bands ever were. They were essentially just rock primitives in that the music they produced was just a by-product of their ineptitude. I would guess that many of the spikey haired youths pogoing along side you also went home and listened to other stuff behind closed doors. I know I did.
Howard, a reply from you is always welcome. I think though what I was hoping for by my above posting was an indignant reply from someone else along the lines of "I got into "World Music" when travelling in Morrocco & heard Gnawa musicians & it changed my life & listening habits"." I am 25". Or even(god forbid)." When I was 15 I liked that Neheh Cherry record so much I discovered Youssou N'Dour". Does everyone out there fit a profile of over 40 & male ? I would hate to think that "World Music" is what you do when you dont' want to stop searching out new music but feel to old for ...ahem, The Streets, a bit like my Dad started listening to Jazz because at 30 he found that Rock & Roll just didn't stimulate the bits between his ears or reach his heart. Oh & just to prove I'm really a cantankerous old bugger, on the subject of Beefheart, I think in retrospect, apart from 'Shiny Beast' in 1978, Beefheart had pretty much run out of ideas after Clear Spot, so I was probably wasting good listening time. Oh dear, when I'm in one of these moods I'd argue that green was red.
Having forgotten to log in, I can't figure out how to post this without it being entered as Guest. David(M)
I hear what you're saying David. I too wish we were joined by a few younger contributors. And a few women!. And some intrepid explorers who have gone and heard the real thing in the depths of some steamy rain forest. If it makes you feel any better I did get into Egyptian music after travelling there and hearing it in it's raw Nile-level state.
I have argued elsewhere in this Feedback section, it is us who are being adventurous with our musical tastes and the younger listener who is stuck in the timewarp. It's not as if the Streets are offering anything new or radical. If they were I would be interested. We're not too old for the streets, we're too bored by the Streets. We old bastards have heard all this stuff before! That is the bottom line.
I'll happily put a Missy Elliot CD on if the mood takes me (having said that I suspect she is out of date by now anyway) but where is this radical new pop music that we are supposed to be getting upset about as our parents generation did about what we listened to as youths? I have cried out elsewhere here for someone to point me in the direction of some interesting rock, but now realise, as you have done, that they're all bloody clones of me, and so are unlikely to know anymore about what's going on 'down on the street maaaan' than I do!
So yes I do agree with you, and a believe it's Charlie's eternal frustration that world doesn't reach a larger and younger audience. We are at an age when (ironically) we seek stuff out. I believe younger folk (ironically the new old folk) are more inclined to just consume whatever is put under their noses by the large corporations providing it is appropriately dressed and has a nice smile.
Anyway I suggest you start a new topic here - 'Under forty or female? Make your presence known!' Calling for such listeners to contribute. If you go to the Radio 3 message board there seems to be plenty of them there communicating in text-speak about what hair gel Mariza uses etc. So they do exist. But I think after five minutes you'll come running back to the virtual leather armchairs of this forum.
We saw The Golden Pride Children's Choir (from Tanzania) at WOMAD on Sat. The harmony singing of the 40+ choir was one of the highlights of that day. * This choir put me in mind of one earlier "world music" piece, "Missa Luba", by Les Troubadours du Roi Baudoin. My old LP of it is dated 1958, though I certainly didn't buy it then. I do remember hearing the "Sanctus" on the radio, enough times for it to make an impression. It was also featured in Lindsey Anderson's movie "If", which came out in '69.
I never knew which section of the LP shelf to put this one under.
Anyone else remember this?
*The highlight was Malouma broadcast on Charlie's show. Her first song put me in mind of Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue". She and her band knocked my socks off (well, my sandals..). She looks rather demure, with her robes and eye-glasses...but did she rock! A friend tells me that she sounded better on Sat. night's broadcast than she did on Radio 3 earlier in the day. Maybe it was the smaller stage?