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The influence of traditional and contemporary African music on Funk and Disco, from the late 60's to the early 80's, has rightly become ever more widely recognised and acknowledged over the last 30 years.
Africa Seven as a label has been lucky enough to be able to explore some of the best music that West Africa produced during that period via a whole host of label catalogues, but Afro-Exotique (Vol 1) seeks to looks beyond Afrobeat, Funk and Disco, exploring some of the gaps in between, and a good few areas well outside of these established genres, often involving lesser known name and less familiar formats, but with the spirit of Africa ever present.
We wish had more info regarding the LP opener 'Black Reggae's "My Girl", but other than us discovering it on French - African label Fiesta's 1975 "Bols Brandy Presents Black Reggae" compilation, we don't.... so just sit back and enjoy the warm, lolloping, instrumental rocksteady cover of the Temptations' classic.
South African emigre, Apartheid dissident, and eventual partner of the Black Panthers' Stokely Carmichael, Miriam Makeba needs little introduction, but the elegant 1974 swing of "L'Enfant Et La Gazelle" has to figure pretty high in any "top anti war lounge songs of the 70's involving heartrending animal metaphors" list.
Benin studio owner Nel Oliver's "Let My Music Take You" (1976 ) boasts exuberant horns, shuffly shaker and a late arriving squelchy Moog. Whilst Cameroonian musician, sculptor, and writer Frances Bebey's "The Coffee Cola Song"(1982) is based around a traditional pygmy flute and local guitars, but with added fizzing drum machine percussion alongside prominent synths, all nodding to emergent Western pop of the day.
Switching gears a bit, Cameroonian Uta Bella's "Eben Reggae" is more quietly instrumental 70's cocktail reggae: lighter on the bottom end, heavier on the Hammond organs, easy on the ear.
Keeping it breezy, the infectious bossa nova groove of Togolese favourite Yta Jourais' 1977 "Pesse Mi Buntare" wanders off on a pleasing jazz sax excursion mid song, while Amara Toure' and Orchestre Masako's "Lamento Cubano" combines solid grooves and free form guitar solos with the plaintive lament.
Veering off on another late tangent, we get the heavy, leftfield, psyche funk of "On My Way" from Nigeria's shortlived but kinda explosive Aura (Aspiritual Emanation) outfit (1976), before Chakachas "Soledad" rounds things off in mellifluous style with it's gentle cosmic lounge vibes.
1. My Girl Reggae - Black Reggae
2. Let My Music Take You - Nel Oliver
3. Pesse Mi Buntare - Yta Jourias
4. L'Enfant Et La Gazelle - Myriam Makeba
5. Coconut - Dan Lacksman
6. Eben Reggae - Uta Bella
7. Lamento Cubano - Amara Toure & Orchestre Massako
8. On My Way - Aura (Aspiritual Emanation)
9. The Coffee Cola Song - Francis Bebey
10. Soledad - Chakachas