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Rokia Traoré – Sarama (2013)

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Rokia Traoré’s superb album “Beautiful Africa” was one of my favourite records of last year and I have previously posted a scratchy version of the best song from it here.

“Sarama” is a close second and, again, features stunning playing and singing by Rokia and superb production by John Parish – the latter probably best known for his work with PJ Harvey.

Hailing from Mali, Rokia Traoré’s style is all her own but every so often you get an echo of a Tracy Chapman moment (with whom Parish has also worked) and, on this song in particular, Bjork. No, really.

Rokia’s sings in the West African language of Bamana, as well as French and occasional bursts of English, and the often personal lyrics are concerned with Traoré’s thoughts on her own life, and on her tragically battered homeland. An excerpt.

 Farafina mousso

I miss your smile
 
I want to hear your laughter
I admire the courage you face your destiny with
 
Ô Farafina mousso
I miss your smile
 
I want to hear your laughter
My inspiration is drawn from you

A remarkable stripped back live recording and then the album version. Perfect.

Rokia Traore – N’Teri (2013)

June 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Probably my favourite record of the year so far and right up there among the best songs of the 21st century!

Hailing from Mali, Rokia Traore has released five LPs since 1998 with her latest, Beautiful Africa, being released in early 2013 on the excellent Nonesuch record label. The guitar sound on this record is sublime with the LP being produced by John Parish who is well known for his previous work with PJ Harvey. According to Wikipedia, it is unusual for a female musician in Africa to play the acoustic guitar as well as singing – very glad she does, perfect!

Little known fact of the day? Rokia’s father was a diplomat; a background she shares with Joe Strummer of The Clash!

Beautiful melody; lyrics about friendship and loss and the passing of time. The full lyrics can be found here on Rokia’s own webpage. A translation of the original doesn’t really capture the nuances of the Bamana language but the following excerpt gives a flavour of the mood ….

Dear friend, let’s move on to other chapters
Dear friend, let’s make use of our time…
Dear friend, let us share the path of humanity
When I think of it, I tell myself that my time is passing
How to make the best of it is up to me!

All the studio versions have been deleted from Youtube but this scratchy live version is pretty wonderful.

Moses McHunu – Qhwahilahle (1985)

January 4, 2013 1 comment

In the mid 1980s, Earthworks Records released a series of fantastic LPs documenting “The Indestructible Beat of Soweto” from South Africa. All of the LPs/CDs are fantastic but this track was always my favourite. The song was released in 1985 but the sleevenotes suggest the track was recorded sometime between 1981 and 1984.

A wonderful circular guitar pattern, killer violin and soaring vocals.

Afraid I don’t know what all the lyrics mean but the title translates as “Leave Him Alone” and the CD booklet describes the content thus:

Just imagine you are the only one of your age group who is not

Married and your peers are jealous of your girlfriends ……

Some useful information about Moses can be found at this link:

http://electricjive.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/moses-mchunus-indestructable-beat-1975.html

Various - The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto

Asaf Avidan – Reckoning Song (2008) and Wankelmut Remix (2012)

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Stumbled on the Wankelmut remix of this while surfing Beatport this evening.

The remix of the track only really begins to hit the heights from about 3 minutes in for me. However, the original is just over 2 and a half minutes of genius and was originally released in 2008.

The plot thickens because Asaf Avidan is an Israeli singer songwriter; a son of diplomats in the Israeli Foreign Office. An Israeli Joe Strummer perhaps?!

Discard any prejudices you may have because this sounds like a cross between Bon Iver and Billie Holiday … a match made in heaven.

Altogether now …

One day baby, we’ll be old

Oh baby, we’ll be old

And think of all the stories that we could have told

The original and then the remix …

Super Rail Band – Foliba (1985)

June 4, 2012 Leave a comment

(Re) stumbling upon this after more than 20 years. Perfect music from Mali.

Quite clearly “Foliba” by The (Super) Rail Band is one of the most exhuberant, most heartfelt records ever made.

The guitar chimes, the bass never stops and the horns drive the track on …. utter perfection.

The Four Brothers – Ndinvumbamireiwo (1996)

June 3, 2012 Leave a comment

A wonderfully relentless guitar underpins this classic single from Zimbabwe’s finest.

The Four Brothers formed originally in the Rhodesian days of 1977 and were long championed by the late, great, John Peel for whom they recorded four radio sessions for his show between 1988 and 2000 (details here). The band played at Peel’s surprise 50th birthday party at his home and he selected ‘Pasi Pano Pane Zviedzo’ as one of his favourite records of all time on the radio show Desert Island Discs in 1990 (recording of the programme available here). Peel is often quoted as describing the Four Brothers as “..the best live band in the world”.

Wikipedia notes that, in 1997, founder member Marshall Munhumumwe suffered a stroke, following a car crash. He was unable to continue to perform with the band and was replaced by Albert Ruwizhi. Munhumumwe died in 2001 at the age of 49 and the following year bass guitarist Never Mutare died. Finally, the last surviving member, Frank Sibanda died peacefully in December 2010.

Rather like The Ramones, The Four Brothers were not actually brothers.

 

Mohammed Rafi – Jaan Pehechaan Ho (1965)

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Now, some of you might think this is wedding footage from a very old friend of mine formally of Hong Kong and now of New York. And, remarkably, when he is on the dancefloor, this is pretty much what happens.

However, my lawyers have encouraged me to make clear that any resemblances are entirely coincidental.

What we have here is a remarkable, twangy guitar driven dance classic from the 1965 Indian film Gumnaam.

As someone commented somewhere on the Youtube links, how good would this have been if covered by the B-52s?

Nonetheless, a remarkable song and performance.

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