Monday, 23 June 2008

10 essential afrobeat albums _Heavy_Heavy_Heavy.mp3

If you want an introduction to Afrobeat it is best to get any of the Afrobeat compilations available at any reputable virtual site e.g. Amazon, DustyGroove or even Ebay. One of the best is 'World Psychadelic Classics 3'. But, if you want to go further check out the following. Some are easy to get hold of, some nigh on impossible (check e-bay or any bloggers):

1. Moussa Doumbia - Keleya - Malian 70's funkster Moussa Doumbia was primarily a saxophonist. Largely ignored until 1990's in West. This release happened in 2007 and is a compliation of his hard to find tracks. There are 7 tracks in all - all funky, all original. 'Keleya' is the most funky and well known. The funky guitar and drumming creates a backing for Moussa's mad singing and then gives over to several dirty saxaphone solos by the man himself. There are hints of Fela Kuti here also, for example the female backing singers frantically echoing Moussa's hollerings in the chorus. It's funky, mad and pure African! The album is easy to find - check out Ebay or even Dusty Grooves (see links in 'enemy of wallet' sidebar).

2. Vecchio - Afrorock - Now this is a weird beast of album, not the music but the background to the music. There is no hint of an African musician here. It all seems to be the work of either Italian or Spanish keyboardist Luis Vecchio, who obviously lend his name to the band. No other band members are known of. The story goes that Luis recorded a bunch of tracks for the DeWolf Library record label, which were shelved until some tv producer saw fit to use them for a new tv series. It was somehow unearthed, and was discovered to be more Afrofunk than real African Afrofunk. He out-Fela'd Fela, so to speak! This album's 10 tracks will make you want to be a better person, it will send of shiver down your spine and make you feel priveleged to have heard such a fantastic document of music. Rumour has it theat there is a 2nd album but ican't find anything on this!

3. Afro-Funk - body music - The band are from Ghana. Body music was released in 1973 in Ghana. . Nothing much is known of the band but it is squelchy deep AfroFunk of the best kind and that's all you need to know! Hard to get hold of but try

4. Nkengas - destruction - Released in 1973 (hard to believe that that is 35 years ago, innit!)in Nigeria. Nkengas and Ikengas are the same band, if you were wondering. They were certainly led by the same man, Okoroego. Nkengas were the initial Afro Funk combo and then became all highlife-y with the conception of the Ikengas (although not all of it because Ikenga Super Stars Of Africa's 'greedy man' album is way funky). The Nkengas released one other album, 'the Nkengas in London', which i haven't heard. Does anyone know if it's any good? Back to the album - Oh man, 'Jungle Beat' is classy club fare. It will get you out of your seat and have you shaking around like you just don't care! Not easy to get hold - ebay is your best bet. O you could check this site out:

5. Assagai - Assagai (meaning 'spearhead') - They hailed from South Africa but recorded the album in the Uk, in 1970 . They were signed to the British Vertigo label, which was essentially a white rock band staple label so a bit of a unique change for them. The album contains 8 tracks in all including 2 covers - one a nice Afrobeat/Highlife take on the Beatle's classic 'hey Jude' and the other a version of Jade Warrior's 'telephone girl'. Particularly funky is 'Cocoa', which is drips with horns and nice wahy-guitar. Assagai only released one other album (Zimbabwe) which is similarly great but they also acted as backing band for Charles Hilton Brown's 'Owed to Myself' LP (see A-Z of Soul - coming soon), which initially was just another Assagai album wwith CHB singing!

6. Mulatu Astatke (sometimes astatqe) - anything by this man is gold. It is AfroJazzweirdness with some vibes thrown in. If you have seen BROKEN FLOWERS by Jim Jarmusch you will have heard Astatke's 'Yegelle Tezeta', 'Yekermo Sew'and 'Gubelye'. These are some of Astatke's best work and a good introduction. I think Mulatu of Ethiopia is his best album. By the way that whole Broken Flower's soundtrack is amazing - i love Holly Golightly's 'There is an end' and the 'Requiem, OP.48 (Pie Jesu)'track. Anyway back to Afrobeat and, of course, Mulatu Astatke. One of his albums will enhance your collection and put the rest to shame - it is the album/cd that you hide all the others behind. The epitomy of cool and it sounds great. Easy to get hold of and cheap-ish!

7.Geraldo Pino - Heavy, Heavy, Heavy. Geraldo Pino is one of Sierra Leone's best. His music is upbeat, organ driven Afrobeat. He has a lovely RP-tinged voice. I particularly love his pronunciation on the fisrt two tracks. He was doing his thing in the mid 1960's and influenced Fela Kuti to take up the sax and create some of the best music ever. It is music to dance to, not music to stroke your chin to, trust me, it is infectious! Easy to get hold of and cheap-ish!

8.Fela Kuti - expensive shit-he miss road - Fela Ransome Anikulapo-Kuti or just Fela Kuti was the James Brown of Afrobeat - the father of Afrobeat and one of the most famous Nigerians around. He recorded many albums, most of which only have 2 songs on them but boy are they long songs. For a detailed discography go to Expensive shit/He miss road is a package of 2 albums on one CD. Expensive shit is an autobiographical song about how the Nigerian police planted dope on Fela and how he noticed and ate it to hide the evidence. The police, however arrested him to wait for him to "shit himself" so he could be charged with possession. It is a wild album and has some of the best sax solos ever heard! - NONE OF YOUR BAKER STREET SHIT! The 'He miss Road' album was produced by Ginger Baker from Cream, who was also a big player in the Afrobeat scene. Easy to get hold of and cheap!

9. Nomo - Nomo. Nomo sounds like 1970s Nigerian Afrobeat but the band are, in fact from Michigan, USA and are whiter than white. This band are as good as Fela and Africa 70. This is music to dance to and would not be out of place at a club or as soundtrack to a dinner party. This is fairly easy to get hold of and is fairly cheap!

10. William Onyeabor - Atomic Bomb. William onyeabor is the mad professor of Afrobeat. His music is as mad as a box of frogs but brilliant to boot! He uses many weird synthesised sounds and has a nice voice. 'Better change your mind' is laid back grooves, weird and funky all at the same time. He is a very good accompaniament to any Afrobeat collection. The problem is that he is near impossible to get hold of and costs a bomb (no pun intended!) Check Ebay for a chance to own this classic!

A-Z of AfroFunk/Beat

Afrofunk - Body Music (2012 reissue of 1973)
Buari - Buari (1975)
Chicago Afrobeat Project - Chicago Afrobeat Project (2005)
Daktaris - Soul Explosion (1998)
Exile one - Beaucoup/Ethiopiques series (1-23) - (1996 - 2013)
Fela kuti - Expensive Shit (1975)
Geraldo Pino - Heavy, Heavy, Heavy (2005)
Hugh Maskela - The Chisa Years 1965-1975 (Rare and Unreleased) - (2006)
Ice - import export (1975)
Joni Haastrup - wake up your mind (1978)
Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra - Love International (2007)
Lafayette Afro Rock Band - Soul Makossa (1973)
Moussa Doumbia - Keleya (1977 reissued 2007)
Nkengas - Destruction (1973)
Ofege - Higher Plane Breeze (1977)
Propositions - Africana (1992)
Question Mark - Be Nice to the People (1974)
Rhythm Funk Masters - Afro-American-Arctic (2007)
Super Eagles - Viva Super Eagles (1968)
The Witch - Lazy Bones (1975)
U - ?
Vecchio - Afrorock (1971)
William Onyeabor - Atomic Bomb (1978)
X - ?
Z - ?
VA - Rare Afro & Caribbean Funk Vol. 1 and 2 (2007)

Anyone agree? Disagree? Have your say!

10 essential albums for the true Funkateer

1. Amnesty are a fabulous band but have only ever released one good album and this is it!It is laden with horns, harmonies and frenetic riffs! It is pure funk but also pure jazz! Opener, 'Can I help you' sets the scene and from then on hold on for the crazy, funky journey that ensues. If i was, for any reason, on Desert Island Discs, it would be the first record i would ask for!

2. Similarly so with Ike Turner's Black Man's Soul. This was recorded in 1969 and it sounds as fresh as something Orgone or the Dap-Kings might create today! It has it all - 'Thinking black', 'Ghetto Funk' and 'Funky Mule'. The whole album drips with the pure sweat of funk!

3. Cymande - Cymande. All 3 Cymande albums are the epitomy of Funk perfection but this is THE album to own. The band are as funky as hell and British to boot(really - they sound so American!). Every song here is a winner. 'Dove' is beautiful and funky, 'the message' is keyboard heavy funk and 'brothers on the slide' is so damn cool that, if you listen to it on hadphones walking down the street, watch out because you'll find yourself doing a little pimp walk.

4. Commodores - Machine Gun is an amazing dirty, squelchy and Funky sounding album. It's hard to think that the person who performed "Hello, is it me your looking for" is the same guy who sang "young girls are my weakeness" on this album. You must listen to this album. It is easy enough to find and also quite cheap. It is, in my eyes, more of a funk staple (and i know this is blasphemy) than anything James Brown did! Incidentally, I also feel the same way about Booker T and the MGs (the true creators of Funk!).

5. Experinece Unlimited - Experience Unlimited is a corker! Mid 1970's guitar funk, horns and keyboard bliss! It brings to mind the early Earth, wind and fire sound.'Free yourself' is a particularly inFunktious song!

6. Mandrill - Fencewalk (anthology)- 2 discs, 31 songs in total. A good deal. You'll can pick it up for about £13 (approx. $26) from Amazon. It has all the classics - Mango Meat, Children of the sun, Fencewalk and Fat City Strut. Horn, Bluesy Bass and pumping drums. Pure Funk with excursions into Jazz, Blues, Rock, Soul and even Latin (hear 'Fat City Strut'). There is something for everyone. All these qualities make them contenders for kings of Funk.

7. Poets of rhythm - Practice what you preach - we welcome the young pretenders to the throne! Released in 2006 but could have been released in 1966. The Poets are one the new bunch, along with the Bamboos, Sugarman 3, the Dap Kings and the Budos Band, who have mirrored the sound of those Funk-daddies from the '60's. They haven't adapted the sound too much because it don't need updating - it still is as fresh as when it was first created. This album is a melting ice-cream, melting because of all the heat that you've generated through all the dancing you've been doing, from the likes of 'more mess on my thing' (track 1) til' 'saltin' the soup' (track 11). The band make great use of horns and the wah-wah pedal.

8. Sly and the Family Stone - There's a riot goin' on - A mish-mash of styles and tunes, cobbled together in a boiling Funk pot and mixed together by the Psychadelic prince of Funk. This was Sly Stone's 5th album and one where he was clearly off his head, either by his predeliction for drugs or his waning hold on reality. Nevertheless, it makes the music sound fantastic and weird. 'Spaced Cowboy' is truly a measure of Sly's state of mind here! A Psychadelic Funk-ridden good ol' Country song. I never liked Country up until this point! 'Family Affair' is great, 'runnin' away' is similarly so and the highlight is straight Funk 'you caught me smilin''. This album is the blueprint for P-Funk in places and in others Sly has just gone to a dark place!

9. Magnum - Fully Loaded - man oh man, what an album. Only 7 songs but it has it all Funk, Jazz, Afrobeat, bass-driven Blues, Soul and no justification for this other than "it's the music that makes us do it". 'Your mind' has some of the best accapello funk that i've ever heard!

10.James Brown - The Payback - From the solid onset of 'the payback' we are taken on a journey through the gritty urban streets of Brown's early background. It is a cry out against drugs' importance in Ghetto life. It seems like Brown sat down one day and said to himself, 'i gotta do something about them drugs messing up my ghetto!'. 'Take some, leave some' is a diatribe against cocaine - "need some dust,it changes us". The whole album is a tight, well orchestrated document of funk (maybe too tight for my liking!)

Go on, get 'em all!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Let's begin then...A-Z of FUNK

I am going to be posting an A-Z of my favourite artists (and albums) for each genre. I am going to start with FUNK as it is closest to my heart (and wallet) at the moment! So here goes:

Amnesty - Free your mind (particularly 'Can I help you') - (1973)
Bobby Williams - Funky Superfly (2008)
Commodores - Machine gun ('Young girls are my weakness' is a classic!) - (1974)
Darondo - Let my people go (2006)
East Harlem Bus Stop - Get on down (1976)
Fred Wesley and the JBs - Dam'n right I am somebody (1974)
Gonzalez - Gonzalez (1974)
Harlem Underground - Harlem Underground (1976)
Ike Turner and the kings of rhythm - Black man's soul  ('Thinking black' is my all-time favourite Funk tune!) - (1969)
James Brown - The Payback (1973)
Kay Gees - Keep on bumpin' (1974)
Leon Spencer - Where i'm coming from (1973)
Mandrill - Fencewalk (anthology) - (1997)
Nite-liters - the Nite-liters (1970)
Orgone - The Killion floor (2007)
Poets of rhythm - Practice what you preach (1993)
Quantic Soul Orchestra with Spanky Wilson - I'm Thankful (2006)
Rasputin's Stash - Devil made me do it (1974)
Sly and the Family Stone - There's a riot goin' on (1971)/Stevie Wonder - Talkin' book (1972) - (come on, it's got 'Superstition' on it) – too hard a choice to settle on just one, I’m afraid!
Turner Bros - Act 1 (1974)
Undisputed Truth - Face to Face with the Truth (1971)
Various - Quantic presents the world's rarest Funk 45's volume 1 and 2 (2006/2007)
Wah Wah Watson - Elementary (1976)
X - does anyone know of a band beginning with X?
Yellow Sunshine - Yellow Sunshine (1973)
Zapp - Zapp (1980)
Other - 24 Carat Black - Ghetto (1973)

So what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? And Why?
If you just want to comment on one album or give alternative chioce for a letter please do so. This is after all a space for your thoughts! I would value your opinion!