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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Tesfa-Maryam Kidane – Heywete (late 1960s/early 1970s)

October 12, 2017 Leave a comment

From Senegal to Ethiopia.

Difficult to find out too much about this record. It appears on Volume 10 of the peerless Ethiopiques series of CDs (I’m almost a completist, though we are now up to 30 volumes!)

A wonderfully laid-back and evocative instrumental with Kidane’s saxophone holding the whole thing together – understated bass and percussion underpin the melody.  a piano fills in the spaces until a stunning guitar solo prompts the bass to move into Afro-funk perfection! Beautiful.

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Mansour Seck – Quinze Ans (1994)

October 12, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m kicking off a series of posts tonight that are going to have an increasingly tendentious African theme …. I can already imagine the breaths that will be bated as my not exactly legion band of followers (you know who you are sir, and thank you!) await the melodic twists and turns that will be served up.

However, let’s start with a stone cold classic. I stumbled upon this on Mansour Seck’s N’der Foota Tooro Volume 1 CD released in 1994. Blind and hailing from Senegal, Mansour was a regular collaborator with his fellow countryman Baaba Maal.

Precise, metronomic guitar, impassioned vocals and a great call and response chorus. A perfect record.

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba (1981)

September 2, 2016 Leave a comment

This is a staggering record – relentless cyclical guitar and bass, beautiful intertwining melodies and Mapfumo on top form with his socially conscious lyrics.

Thomas Mapfumo is widely regarded as Zimbabwe’s greatest and best known artist. He invented and popularized Chimurenga music – literally “struggle” in Shona – which was often overtly political. In addition to his modern incarnation of traditional music, his lyrics were sung in Shona. In the late 1970s singing in Shona instead of English was a political statement in and of itself. In Mapfumo’s case, it was specifically critical of the white ruling class of Rhodesia. The government, underestimating his popularity, eventually banned his records and imprisoned Mapfumo without charges in 1979. After a series of large protests demanding his release, he was set free three months later.

Though he initially celebrated the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, he became increasingly disillusioned with the regime of Robert Mugabe.

Shumba (or Lion) was a particularly popular song during the fight for liberation and is a cautionary tale warning of spies in the midst …

Do not talk of secret issues or give information in public

Informers are everywhere.

A perfect record

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