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AFRICA SEVEN

Afro National

African Experimentals (1972-1979)

The Afro National band was formed in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1972. Their inspirational leader, Sulay Abu Bakarr accompanied by his wife Patricia and Ayo Roy Macauley split from the Sabanoh Jazz Band to form their new group. They skillfully merged highlife and jazz sounds with a deep knowledge of West African sounds. Growing to become one of the premiere bands to emerge from Sierra Leone they not only defined the sound of the country for a generation but also crafted some of the country's most popular and memorable songs (for example Sonjo which is included on this collection).

The band toured extensively throughout Africa and Europe in the 70s (working with the giant of Sierra Leone music Akie Deen in the process). Towards the end of the 70s the band departed Sierra Leone; Sulay and his wife moving to Maryland in the US and other members moving to London.

Our collection focuses on possibly not the best known songs of the band but the tracks which have the rhythms to move the dance floor. We open with the foot tapping "Jokenge" and its driving shuffle beat, swirling organ and percussive guitar lines. "Push Am Forward" takes a afro-psychadelic turn with its hypnotic rhythms and driving distorted guitar. "Mr Who You Be" is a cover of the Fela Kuti track, doing it fine justice. "Gowa" highlights the vocal prowess of the band, as dose the ever popular "Sonjo" (the version featured here is a rare alternate recording).

"Money Palava" opens up side two with its infectious highlife beat and hooky vocals. "Money Nor Bataya" highlights the bands first use of synthesizers. "Mother In Law" sweeps up back to Free Town 1973 with its clever vocal. "Set My Soul On Fire" is a bonus track which brings in the International flavour of the band.

The Afro National band continues in various guises to this day, with Sulay and Patricia acting as the proud and talismanic figures for a whole generation of Sierra Leonean music.

Various Artists

Mothers' Garden (The Funky Sounds Of Female Africa 1975 - 1984)

With our Africa Airways series flying high we felt it is time to introduce a new compilation focusing on the unique contribution from some of Africa's most recognised female artists and some lesser known ones for good measure. We are excited to be launching this on Women's Day 2018 as our way to highlight the incredible, yet under-acknowledged musical contribution that African women have given to the funky sounds of Africa. Taking our cue from the Alice Walker essay "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens", the creative sparks that inspired this collection of songs were formed in their Mothers' Gardens by Mothers who paved the way for their daughters to keep the creativity of black women alive through their strength and resilience. Whilst we have a bit more of a message with this one, we wouldn't be Africa Seven if it wasn't damn funky at the same time!

We kick things off with the infectious sound of South-African Letta Mbulu. Letta started her career playing alongside fellow heavyweights Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela as cast members of King Kong in the 1950's and has since gone on to become one of the most influential south-African artists, even featuring on Michael Jackson songs, as well as being recognised for her contribution both musically and to that of the country's liberation struggles. With a crate-digger, secret weapon version of her classic Kilimanjiro single, "Kilimanjiro, Take Us Higher" is longer and has all the disco groove and delight you need and desire from such a star.

Uta Bella takes over from Letta, with a powerful Africa Seven return. "Enyin" is a glamorous disco scorcher heightened by glittering keys and irresistible West African vocals. One of Nigeria's unsung pioneers, and first female pop bandleader, Mona Finnih continues the flow with an effortless boogie number "Ani Kewa Jo" which just keeps on giving for nearly 7 glorious minutes. This devastating 80's number "Nou Ke Sa Inmew" from Cida Desvarieux follows up Uta and is dealt in two halves. Firstly a hit of beautiful vocals and slap bass controls the floor before handing over to the powerful guitar riffs and horns which groove out for the rest of this number. Wrapping up the first side with a classy reggae inspired number "Time Waits For No One" is Christy Essien, the grand dame of Nigerian pop, who was never far away from the issues affecting women in the Nigerian music industry.

Side two, enter Togolese singer Akofa Akoussah causing a storm with "Tango", delicate at times yet with a ferocious, unforgiving energy. Next a more obscure offering from Carmen Ezumah with vintage afro goodness in the form of "Tala Tala". Moving on, we have the Nigerian Lijadu sisters (dubbed "the West African Pointer Sisters") with one of their most notable hits "Danger". Our penultimate offering is another dose of obscurity, sandwiched between two greats, with Kenyan Bakambi N'Kela's uncompromising "Kilimanjoro".

J. M. Tim And Foty

African Funk Experimentals (1977-1979)

Tim (aka Jean Marie Tiam)and the sadly departed Maurice Foty who died in 2011. The musical cousins hails from Bafoussam in Cameroon. Their signature vocal harmony sound may be the first thing you hear, however they also have produced a host of funkiest African funk around. They sing in their native language Ngomâlah, as well as Duala and English.

We start the album off slowly with the scene-setting and largely instrumental "Douala By Night". Tight guitar and choppy clavi drive this song along. The groove is so deep even Missy Elliot couldn't resist a cheeky sample. "Funky Bafoussam" carries on the theme and expands it to include a kick-ass horn section. "More And More" is next and here the vocals burst forth over this up tempo punchy pop-funk track. With "Love Is Light" the pair show their versatility with a smooth English-sung soul ballad.



STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: The catchiest funk grooves you could dream of, mixed with a broad range of boogie, disco-funk and synth grooves. Delicious!

Eko Roosevelt Louis has had a music career spanning over forty years, born the grandson of a Kribi tribal chief, his musical persuasion beginning humbly with his village's local church before his formal education at the Senegal conservatoire and Paris' Ecole Normale de Musique. Eko then cut his teeth making jazz funk and disco records in the mid-seventies before extensive touring in and around France. In the 90's Eko returned to Cameroon to take over his grandfather's tribal chieftaincy, a role he still holds today. Eko also works with the Cameroun artistic societies and schools performing, teaching and even leading Cameroon's national orchestra.

For this Africa Seven foray we take a trip to 1979. "Funky Disco Music" was Eko's third LP. It is locked-on with the sound we here at Africa Seven like and after what seemed like ages we finally tracked Eko down in Cameroun and persuaded him that a re-issue was most definitely needed.

The LP opens up with the bright and uplifting disco-swing gem and title track "Funky Disco Music". Punchy horns, afro rhythms and groovy bass (From Vicky Edimo) power this groover along before mixing straight into the Jazz-Funk-Disco hybrid "Ndolo Embe Mulemadolo". Taking its cue from the age - Paris 1979 - "Une Chanson Sans Paroles" is a French power pop meets afro swing belter to keep the LP tempo high.

To close off side A is the gloriously uplifting "Bowa'a Mba Ngebe". Dripping in positivity and goodwill this feel-good disco gem was a recent highlight of our African Airways 04 compilation. Side B opens with the afro-folk meets pop "Doi Da Manga". Next is "Me To A De Try My Own" and "Esele Mba Musango Na Ndol'am" with their locked on bass grooves and afrobeat grooves. The LP closes with the smooth ballad jazz of "Emen' Ango". The heartstrings are all a flutter.

It's just over 3 years since the launch of the Africa Seven label in Paris and London. Their first release (Airways One, obviously) is in its fourth pressing such is its popularity with discerning Afro heads. Forty or so releases later it's time to take to the clouds again. Being the unimaginative bunch they are, the fourth installment of their African sky filled, musical cornucopia is called, wait for it... 'African Airways Four (Disco Funk Touchdown - 1976 - 1983)'. This time round, the flavour is disticntly disco.
Your flight opens with a punchy disco funk assault from Paris based Cameroonian Tala AM with his 1981 stomper "Get Up Tchmassi". Next up and staying with the Cameroonian connection is Eko with "Bowaa Mba Ngebe". Uta Bella began singing in the 60's and by the time disco hit in the 70's she was already established a singer in her native Cameroon, here the locked on groove of "Nassa Nassa" is a perfect snapshot of the Afro disco vibe we've all grown to love.
Charly Kingson (cousin of Manu Dibango) is next up with his "Nimele Bolo". Recorded in Germany with the cream of Munich's session musicians the bass synth is out in force on this one. Keeping it in the family, cousin Manu is next up with his 1978 Disco, jazz funk masterpiece "Sun Explosion".
Side two opens with a blast of Elvis Kemayo and his piano and guitar funk bomb "Biram". Next Momo Joseph gives us "Africain". Best known in France as an actor, this disco funk groover was released on his self pressed LP "War For Ground" in 1983. A true gem indeed. Nigerian, ex Funkees member Jake Sollo is next with "Tinni Yanana". Recorded in the UK in 83 it's slick and smooth with a hint of "at the car wash" groove. Pierre Didy Tchakounte follows on with his soul funk 'golden years' style groover "Soul Magabe". Produced by  Slim Pezin. We close off the journey with the tribal chant disco-funk special from the Monstars "Funny Saga". As always, completely unmissable stuff.





Africa Seven’s second release is Manu Dibango’s afro funk soundtrack to the film ‘Ceddo’.
Also known as ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Ceddo’ was filmed in 1977 and tells the story of the Ceddo (commoners) struggle to preserve their traditional way of life against the onslaught of Islam, Christianity and the slave trade.
Along with film maker Sembene’s other films it was banned in his native Senegal for its presentation of the conflicts between Islam and Christianity and the Ceddo’s ethnic and traditional beliefs.
The soundtrack itself is a laid back affair, heavy on marimba and lazy funk guitars it’s ALMOST dare I say it? Yes I do!...Balearic in mood and would sit nicely with shop favourites like Wilson Tanner or Aficianado.


One of the most pivotal figures in the history of Malian music is Sorry Bamba. His work spans five decades and his music bridges the gap between Mali's cultural traditions and new the music which arose from the musical crossovers which occurred in Mali's post-Colonial period. 

In 1979 Sorry produced his third LP for the Paris based Sonafric group. Long out of print Africa Seven is pleased to be re-issuing the LP with the authorization of the newly reformed Sonafric group. The re-issue benefits from extensive restoration and re-mastering to a spectral analysis level, bringing and polishing long lost and distorted sounds.The six track masterpiece opens with "Mayel". It blends Afro-space grooves, cowbell and swirling organ with psych guitar and punchy horns. "Kanaga 78" was named after his band of the time. Sounding as fresh (if not more so) in 2016 as it did in 1979 the hypnotic bass, expansive drums, twisting organ and snakelike fuzz-guitar all combine to create a masterpiece of African psychedelia. "Bayadjourou" closes off Side A of the LP with its pulsating, incessant organ hook-line and driving tom drums while adding in layers of Malian vocal from a female chorus and Sorry himself. Side B opens up with "Tjamantie Kolo" which is powered by driving conga and drums layered with traditional vocals and distorted picked electric guitar lines. "N'Nebakaidi" focuses on the song writing skill and delivery of Sorry who delivers a masterful vocal over grooves which somehow manage to sound melancholy but somehow also forlornly uplifting at the same time. The LP closes with "Nani Nani" which is a brass driven wall of African sound. Stay tuned for further re-issues of Sorry Bamba's first and second albums soon on Africa Seven.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Get your oven gloves at the ready, because this record is red hot! Fusing stomping, straight ahead percussion with wild psych solos, swirling organ and proggy synth wig outs, this African trip is Bamba's masterpiece. Back in print for the first time in 27 years - buy on sight!

Various Artists

Africa Airways One & Two (Funk Connection 1973-1980, Funk Departures 1973-1982)

First released in 2015 as two separate vinyl compilations, “Africa Airways” is a deep exploration into the furthest parts of 1970’s and early 1980’s. 

The last decade has seen the un-tapping of an apparent endless well of music from the mother continent and this compilation (in our not so biased opinion) uncovers some of the cream of the crop and stands as one of the finest exponents of the African take on the music that it directly influenced, that being the funk and disco from the USA.

Featuring music from Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and the international African diaspora with artists including Manu Dibango, Jo Tongo and Jake Sollo this a truly pan-African affair, full of analogue synths, polyrhythms, rich vocals, jangling guitars and production slicker than oil. For lovers of music to get down to, this will make your rubber soled shoes burn.

The original pressing of the vinyl compilations sold out so quickly that another two represses had to be made to keep up with demand. For those not to latch on to the vinyl resurgence and prefer the old school CD format, this compilation is the one for you!!!



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