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AFRICA SEVEN

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.

Following on from their extremely well received re-press of Pasteur Lappe's second album "Na Man Pass Man", Africa Seven head back to the beginning with his debut album "We, The People".
The story begins in the 60's with a charming 19 year old Nicolas "Pasteur" Lappe becoming a sensation on Radio Adele in Douala, Cameroun. He goes on to become the editor of the Douala Gazette newspaper and become friends with other African music stars such as Tala AM, J Moboule and Fela Kuti. He also works tirelessly promoting new and upcoming local Cameroonian talent. After moving to Paris, a stint in journalism school and publishing a book of poems "Chansons Negres" he finally settles into a new life of music in Paris.
Pasteur's first album was recorded in 1979 with the backing band and production collective called the Zulu Gang, which include Douglas Mbida (who went on to release several top flight albums himself) and Jacob Desvariaux (who went on to form Kassav). The album is full of diverse sounds; from driving funk, sweeping disco grooves, syrupy ballads, reggae, Jackson-five-esque pop to finger-lickin' soul. At its core though is the custom "Sekele" groove... a movement that encompasses the dance, groove and vibes of his native Douala.



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.





Jo Tongo

African Funk Experimentals (1968-1982 + 2017)

Our hero, Jo Tongo (born Joseph Ekambi Tongo Mpondo) was born and raised in Douala Cameroon. In 1964 he headed off to Paris to begin Pharmaceutical studies. Somewhere along the way the music in his soul eventually won out and he embarked on a life of music. In the latest of our series of "Funk Experimentals" LPs Afica Seven dig deep for the funkiest Afro Funk you'll ever have the good fortune to wrap your ears around.
The album opens up with stunningly catchy Jangolo. Jo's awesomely funky bass and percussive "jangly" guitar. The track is underpinned by African drums, funky stabs and 70s nascent synthesiser string machines. Next up we take a trip to 1979 and "Funky Feeling" from Jo's "Those Flowers" album. Here the beats are big, the strings are sweet and the clavi is into overdrive. We then jump back to 1976 for the evergreen, horn-puncher, funk stomper "Piani". Before the sweet smooth funk of "Those Flowers".

Next up is "American Lady" with the bright strings, jangly guitars and driving keys. All locked on to maximize the groove. We then take a trip back to 1968 for Jo's second single the ever so funky and ever so ahead of its time, "Dig It Babe". Soul, horns, groove and punch all in two perfect packages. Part 1 and Part 2. Next up it is the funk boogie afro swingers "Ewande".

Bringing things up date we jump forward to 2017, present day. Jo has been making music more or less non-stop and here we are lucky to premier three brand new tracks. The drums are punchy, the guitars ooze the funk and the locked on keys tie the tracks together in one tight-as package. Jo is on the production and at the controls for the mix. "Lion Roar" is first with its driving clavinet and all-out-assault funky drums. The brass is big and this song is Bold with a capital "B". "It's The D Day" is next with swinging soul style groove before "Mystic Power" features a ballsy brass-laden beat and jazz funk overtones.

Launched in early 2015 by a collective of crate diggers, Afro music-heads and vinyl- buying obsessives, Africa Seven's sole aim is to spread the love and knowledge for African music in all its forms. Afrosonique Vol.1 is the first instalment in a series of compilations introducing African tracks from the 70s and 80s to some of the most talented artists of today in a remix and re-edit series.
Compiled by veteran UK producer Tony Thorpe (Moody Boyz, KLF), the album brings together a rich ensemble of producers and artists from different genres and music scenes. From Warp's long-time signee Plaid, DJ Food, top DJs John Talabot & Pional to broken beat legend IG Culture, the compilation brings a modern twist to Africa's most iconic tunes. 
With no multi-tracks available, the artists have gone through an incredible work of editing and overdubbing - almost remixing the original works. The result is a frenetic and fresh blend of styles ranging from modern Afro-jazz cuts to heavyweight dancefloor gear, almost spiritual hypnotic club anthems and low-tempo dreamscapes.



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.


Africa Airways come correct with the third installment of their essential compilation. This volume features the very best Afro-psyche from the years 1972-1984. Opening up proceedings are Afro National from Sierra Leone. Their progressive psyche-highlife foot-stomper easing us nicely into the pocket and prepares us for the trip ahead. Next it is Ifang Bondi who serves up a swirling concoction of powering afro rhythms, fuzz guitar, magic flute and fuzz organ, all underpinned with a driving powerful driving bass line. Next stop is Mali where Sory Bamba serves up the highlight from his 1979 album "Kanaga 78". An early use of psychedelic synthesizer paired cleverly with pulsating bass guitar and harsh choppy guitar. We step forward in time a few years for the distorted guitar chords and over-stacked beats of "Nzango" by African Black. Bunzu Soundz from Ghana close side A with their choppy, percussive, "Zinabu". Messi Jacques & Les Dissoumbas De Libreville open up side B with "Onga Ben Ma Na Mene Mebua", prepare for an onslaught of psych organ, crazed drumming and eeechho vocals to the max. Decca West Africa, Nigerian favorites Ofo and The Black Company grind out the psych factor next with their conga driven fuzz fest "Allah Wakbarr". The Damas Swing Orchestra slow proceedings down with their afro left-field swing micro epic "Odylife". We take a brief detour via Indonesia for the AKA and their dance floor mover "Shake Me". It's a track of two halves. Psychedelic throughout but in the second half things swing fast and funky. We close down with the master Manu Dibango. Proving he can turn his hand to just about any genre of music, the Cameroonian legend delivers his pensive, xylo-driven, riff locked, soundtrack epic "Ceddo" to close out our journey. It's another expansive collection by the Africa Seven crew - highly recommended!


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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