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ANALOG AFRICA

Amara Toure

Amara Toure

    The enigmatic Amara Touré from Guinée Conakry finally getting a well deserved compilation showcasing all of the 10 songs ever released between 1973 and 1980. Cuban influenced music of a different kind featuring amazing spaced-out guitar works!!

    It is the late 50s, and Senegal is going crazy to the groove of Son Montuno and Patchanga. Brought to West Africa by Cuban sailors in the early 40s, these styles were immediately adopted by a flourishing music scene that did not hesitate to embrace the Caribbean sound, mixed it with their own Folklore, and, in the process, created something new. Through the unique cultural fusion of West African and Caribbean influences, Latin music took on a new and unique sound - the format was reinvented.

    Producer Ibra Kassé and his Miami nightclub acted as the spearheads of this movement. They brought a breath of fresh air into Dakar’s nightlife, further energising one of West Africa’s most exciting cities. The demand for ballroom parties and live acts exploded, attracting numerous musicians from surrounding countries. One of the musicians who answered this call was percussionist and singer Amara Touré, from Guinea-Conakry. Spotted by Kassé while performing with Dexter Johnson, Touré was asked if he would like to be part of a new project. Little did he know that this project would become a phenomenon.

    Immensely important for the development of Senegalese modern music, Le Star Band de Dakar, led by Mady Konaté, became a sort of musical incubator and workshop, where many musicians learned and practiced their trade before moving on to become stars in their own right. Touré’s talent on percussion was undeniable, but it was his powerful and raw voice that captivated the producer. The fascinating way Touré interpreted Cuban music was unparalleled, and it was this feature that encouraged Kassé to recruit the unknown artist. 

    Although already brimming with incredible talent, Amara Touré’s joining of Le Star Band de Dakar in 1958 began the band’s meteoric rise to the top. The band quickly became Dakar’s number one orchestra, and it cemented the reputation of the Miami nightclub as the hottest spot in the country. The place was packed nightly, and Dakar was boiling.

    Amara Touré’s Senegalese adventure lasted for ten years when he received an irrefutable offer and in 1968, joined by a few talented Senegalese musicians, headed to Cameroon and immediately formed the Black and White ensemble. Many live gigs later and it was time for the first songs to be recorded. A total of three singles were produced between 1973 and 1976. These singles, representing the first six songs on this compilation, fully epitomise and distill the essence of what Touré had learned during his career. His Mandingue roots fused with the Senegalese sound that he had mastered - the perfect foundation for the Touré’s Cuban interpretations.

    If Touré’s intention was to create the most sensual music ever recorded in Africa, he might very well have reached this goal. The musicians on the recording sound like they are playing in a smokey, poorly lit juke joint, where dark rum was sipped ever so slowly, and the pulse of the music took up a life of its own. How many couples have danced, swayed, and melted together to the distinct sound of Amara Touré? Nobody can say for sure ...
    Amara Touré’s success poured across the borders of Cameroon, and in 1980 he went to Libreville, Gabon, to team up with the powerful Orchestre Massako. Touré recorded an LP at that time which is hailed by many music aficionados as one of the very best African albums. The songs from that LP are the last four on this compilation.

    A great compilation can open the gate to another world. Who knew that some of the most exciting Afro-funk records of all time were actually made in the small West African country of Benin? Once Analog Africa released the first ‘African Scream Contest’ in 2008, the proof was there for all to hear; gut-busting yelps, lethally well-drilled horn sections and irresistibly insistent rhythms added up to a record that took you into its own space with the same electrifying sureness as any favourite blues or soul or funk or punk sampler you might care to mention.

    Ten years on, intrepid crate-digger and Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb unveils a new treasure-trove of Vodoun-inspired Afrobeat heavy funk crossover greatness, featuring 14 tracks from 1963 - 1980. Right from the laceratingly raw guitar fanfare which kicks off Les Sympathics’ pile-driving opener, the previously unreleased “A Min We Vo Nou We”, it’s clear that ‘African Scream Contest 2’ is going to be every bit as joyous a voyage of discovery as its predecessor.

    Where some purveyors of vintage African sounds seem to be strip-mining the continent’s musical heritage with no less rapacious intent than the mining companies and colonial authorities who previously extracted its mineral wealth, Samy Ben Redjeb’s determination to track this amazing music to its human sources pays huge karmic dividends. Like every other Analog Africa release, ‘African Scream Contest 2’ is illuminated by meticulously researched text and effortlessly fashion-forward photography supplied by the artists themselves.

    The scene documented here couldn’t have been born anywhere else but in the Benin Republic, and the prime reason for that is Vodoun. It’s one of the world’s most complex religions, involving the worship of some 250 divinities, where each divinity has its own specific set of rhythms, and the bands introduced on the ‘African Scream Contest’ series and other compilations from that country were no less diverse than that army of different Gods. At once restless pioneers and masters of the art of modernising their own folklore, the mystic sound of Vodoun was their prime source of inspiration.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: CD with 44-page booklet.

    "Sweet Sweet Dreams" was recorded at the legendary SHARC studios, located on a hill in Chaguaramas (near Port of Spain) and despite a fantastic sound and monster Soca-boogie tunes like "Let's Get It Together", "Let's Make It Up" and "Way, Way Out" the album was a commercial flop, probably due to the fact that it didn't sound like anything else coming out of Trinidad & Tobago at the time. It fused a range of different rhythms and new sounds, primarily heavy synth riffs.
    When it came out in 1984 "Sweet Sweet Dreams" was described as "way ahead of its time". Undeservedly it was panned by critics and, unable to reach markets, disappeared into the dusty record collections of a few music aficionados. Now, more than three decades later that cosmic dance-floor UFO is about to take off again, change all that and set the record straight. Remastered and cut by Frank Meritt at The Carvery the album is truly a masterpiece. But who is this Shadow behind "Sweet Sweet Dreams?" Shadow is a man of understated magnitude. A truly enigmatic artist, he first emerged in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1970s, becoming a part of the tapestry of Caribbean music and reinvigorating calypso at the time. Calypso, the indigenous folk music of Trinidad and Tobago, has roots in West African kaiso rhythms, French Creole influences, and the hardships endured by the African slaves brought to Trinbago, whose descendants still use it as a tool for satire, self-expression, and social commentary. Calypso has also given birth to several other music genres, including soca, with its uptempo beats and festival context. Shadow effortlessly moves between both. Shadow came from a humble but musical family and started writing songs as a youth while tending cattle in the fields. To his family's initial chagrin he chose calypso over church music but his talent and drive were undeniable. In the early days of his career Shadow's style was cramped when working with some of the more conservative music arrangers who felt that calypso and soca should fit a mould. But after a while Shadow teamed up with more innovative arrangers, including Arthur "Art"de Coteau, who followed their and Shadow's intuitions resulting in a long line of hits.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: The lucky ones may have nabbed a copy of the 12", but everyone's still after more Shadow. This killer Caribbean disco LP is every bit as good as the single promised, boasting far out synth licks, irrestible grooves and more than a little of the power cosmic.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe gatefold LP with a 4 pages big size inlay with liner notes and a double page poster.


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