The mid-seventies in Nairobi were a time of tremendous growth. In the first decade after independence, the city’s population doubled and the economy grew at a rapid pace. Pop culture experienced a boom, live music thrived around the city and young, aspiring musicians were exposed to a wide variety of local, regional and international influences. This was the time Nairobi developed into a musical melting pot that nurtured artists who are well remembered even outside Kenya, such as Les Mangelepa (still performing!), Matata, or Joseph Kamaru. The music industry increased its capacity and by 1975 local pressing plants were able to produce over 10,000 records per day. Amidst the proliferation of Kenyan music being released by hundreds of bands and solo artists, some of the most interesting records did not receive proper distribution or promotion, and four decades down the line they remain ungoogleable, unmentioned in discographies and generally unheard.
One band whose recorded output has been all but invisible until recently, but who are well remembered by people who were young in 1970s Nairobi, is Black Savage. Their music was released on an LP and three singles between the mid-70s and the early 80s, and has remained out of print ever after. The early years of the band, whose members met during their secondary school years in Nairobi, are well described in the liner notes accompanying the current reissue compilation by Afro7. Band leader Gordon was the son of professor Simeon Ominde, who had led the reform of Kenya’s educational system in 1964 upon independence, and who was teaching at Makerere University in Uganda in 1956 when his son was born. Gordon Ominde’s earliest memories included Louis Armstrong’s concert in Kampala in 1961, where – at the age of four – he was invited on stage and started conducting the band. Musical inspiration also came from his sisters who were singers, and from attending musical classes, although at Lenana – a former whites-only boarding school which was gradually being reformed to cater to Kenyans of different backgrounds – music education meant studying Beethoven and Mozart. Together with a group of younger students who shared an interest in music, including original Black Savage members Job Seda, Jack Otieno and Ali Nassir, he started practice sessions using the musical instruments that the school provided. After completing school the band decided to rejoin and pursue a career in music, despite all odds: obtaining their own instruments, finding rehearsal space and getting the approval of their families would all have been challenges in mid-seventies Kenya.
In 1973, two Kenyans of Indian heritage who had run a successful photo business since the mid-50s, gave Kenyan music a boost by investing in a 24-track recording studio, and by acquiring EMI, Pathé and other label licenses for recording and distributing local and international music. In the next few years the Sapra studio, record plant, tape duplication facility and colour printing business would become the go-to spot in Nairobi’s Industrial Area for musicians and labels from all around East Africa. The studio was built and – as the owners struggled to find a sufficiently trained local engineer – also run by Detlef Degener, a German who had come to Kenya to construct studios for training journalists. Between 1975 when Sapra studio opened and the end of 1978 when the company went bankrupt, he recorded hundreds of bands from as far as Zambia (many Zamrock albums were produced under his guidance). Black Savage also came to record at Sapra for their debut album, which was to be released by EMI.
‘Something for someone’ provides a refreshing look at Kenya’s musical landscape of the mid-seventies. Black Savage weren’t drawing their primary influence from rumba or benga but from psych and folk rock, funk and r&b. All songs were in English, and the lyrics were politically and socially aware, breathing the activist vibe of the international ‘summer of love’ generation. The band released three more singles. ‘Do you really care/Save the savage’ is two sides of semi-acoustic protest folk, ‘Grassland/Kothbiro’ embraces the group’s Kenyan identity through the music and language, and ‘Fire/Rita’ (released around 1982 on the short-lived Kenyan CBS label) sounds as if the group attempts to reinvent itself – as a reggae band.
Given the rarity of the original vinyl releases, the lack of airplay and the absence of biographic info on the band, one could conclude that Black Savage ended up all but forgotten. It’s reassuring that the musical paths of the band members didn’t end there, though. Job Seda (who changed his name to Ayub Ogada) and Jack Otieno (today known as Jack Odongo) joined the African Heritage Band. Job then became an actor (Out of Africa), joined the UK record label Real World and scored Hollywood soundtracks. Jack went on to produce numerous Kenyan bands throughout the 1980s and 90s, and is still active as a gospel musician. Gordon Ominde continued his studies but ultimately chose for a career as a musician, and his music took him to England and to Germany where he started a family; he died unexpectedly in 2000. Mbarak Achieng is credit for composing Black Savage’s Kothbiro, which Ayub Ogada re-recorded and which ended on the soundtrack of the Constant Gardener. The memory of Black Savage as Kenya’s most prolific rockers of the 1970s remains vivid in the hearts of thousands of Nairobians, and the current Afro7 reissue is a worthy first attempt at introducing their best work to an international audience.
A3) Black Savage Band ‘Sharpeville’ |
The Sudanese London collective The Scorpios have been making waves the past few years after the Afro7 release of their acclaimed debut release. Voted album of the week last summer by Gilles Peterson, many have come to treasure this great album that shines more and more upon repeated listenings. A future classic for sure!
We’re really glad to be able to offer more music from The Scorpios, this is their new hot single straight off the press! Two sides of Sudanese magic recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios, ‘Mashena‘ is a take on the classic Sisters Al Balabil tune. The new version is spiced up with a tight percussive backbone, huge drums, flute and the lovely vocals of talented Regia Ishag. One for the dancefloor! Flip the single and you’ll find a beutiful slowburn traditional gem Samha. Comes in bespoke jacket and lovely custom made labels. We only made 500 of this so head over to the Afro7 music shop to secure your copy of the single. Their second album will be out later this year but catch them live at UK’s WOMAD – World Festival at Charlton Park 26-29 July!
A) The Scorpios ‘Mashena’ |
B) The Scorpios ‘Samha’
Etuk Ubong (born June 25, 1992) is a trumpeter, composer and bandleader. Hailing from Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria, raised in Lagos, he started playing at the age of 14 thanks to his mother’s encouragement. The past years he has been very active in Nigeria but also seen on spots in London and other European countries. Check out his previous albums Songs of Life and his Miracle >(due out on vinyl over summer!)
Following the Nigerian musical tradition of powerful protest songs against injustice and corrupt goverments, Etuk has penned two original numbers targeting todays state of affairs. It never manifest, they never fulfill their promises. They are meant to Provide good roads, stable Light, Free Education, Free Health Care Facilities, Jobs and security. With this brand new Afro7 single Labeled Earth Music, Etuk Ubong and his band raises up a fierce rhythmical storm, drawing traditions from funk, high-life, jazz and afrobeat. Laced with tape effects, delays and spiced up rawness by Neo Funk’s new wonderboy Estonian Misha Panfilov, it’s a sureshot mover for this summers tropical dancefloors. Not to be missed, head over to our shop to grab your copy!
A) Etuk Ubong ‘Black Debtors’ |
B) Etuk Ubong ‘Collaboration of Doom (C.O.D.)’
Located on Nyali Beach, south of Mombasa city lies Mombasa Reef Hotel, maybe the grandest of all the classic Kenyan hotels, run and managed by the same family since the mid-seventies. Catering westerners to safaris and snorkelling, and providing local acts of art-acts and music, including the hotel’s then house band the Mombasa Vikings. A band name undoubtedly suited for the many Nordic tourist that frequently visited. If you wanted to bring back some of the magic, musical souvenirs was offered for sale after the nightly musical show and another way for the band to make some extra needed pesa.
Fast forward somewhat 35 year the original Beach Rhythm’s Mombasa Roots seven-inch vinyl single with these two tracks finds Sweden’s own Rickard Masip in some now defunct Stocholm shop, he was mindblown over the music of the b-side track Mama Matotoya, it’s not exactly afro-beat more of a hybrid, heavy percussive with a a tip of chakacha rhythm pattern, a flute solo ooozing with jazz sensibility.
The Ensemble consisted of Tony Rusteau on Reeds. Abdalla ‘Dala’ Hamisi on Percussions and vocals, the late Ahmed ‘Emil’ Juma on lead guitar (…of later Mombasa Roots fame) Keneth Lucas on bass, Clement Fernandes on acoustic guitar, Bernard Pu Cheok Chuen on drums and Bruno Da Silva (who still works at the hotel to this day) and Richard Rusteau on perucssion and effects. The band was a fine example of how good it gets with a daily playing schedule and excited crowds.
We’ve been a fan of this 45 for a long time and the original still is extremely rare (only two copies known to have been found in Sweden!) We had to make a replica and with the help of Carvery’s Frank Merritt and Racuba’s Adam Isbell it’s finally available again sounding fresh and better than it ever did. 100% officially lisensed from the original band members!
A) Mombasa Vikings ‘Kibe Kibe’ |
B) Mombasa Vikings ‘Mama Matotoya’
Happy summer! We are have been working hard to update the site to be more mobile friendly and will keep adding more vintage stock throughout the year! Keep coming back in!
The intermingling of nifty guitar riffs on this blend of Congolese and Kenyan musical influences is deeply original and typical of a very unsung musical outfit that seemed to have become largely forgotten over the years. ‘Let’s sing, dance and party on to our music’ (ngoma yetu)’ the lyric goes. This deep track is indicative of the multi-layered repertoire of The Loi Toki Tok – the resident band at the uptown Arcadia Club (now the Florida Night Club) along Koinange Street in Nairobi. This track is featured on Kenya Special by Soundway records, compiled by Miles Cleret, Fredrik Lavik and Rickard Masip. It was recently repressed and can be bought here on all formats!
A) Loi Toki Tok Band ‘Leta Ngoma’|
B) Loi Toki Tok Band ‘Jennie’
Loi Toki Tok band started out as a nondescript musical group. But irrefutably, the band’s star scaled the heights and shone brightly on the early 1970s Kenyan capital, Nairobi’s burgeoning live music circuit. And basking on the top of the pops charts, was vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Leon Kabasela aka Kalle. He also doubled as band’s composer and songwriter – earning credits for among other tracks, this mellow ‘ballad’ aptly titled Mungwana – loosely translated in Swahili, is descriptive of a selfless and conscientious gentleman. Kalle is one of handful surviving remnants of the band, whose lifespan was somewhat short-lived. It lasted barely three years – circa 1971 to mid-1973. Mungwana’s lyrics, sang in Congolese lingala dialect, mirror his roots and musical dream, which lured the youthful artiste during late 1960s to pack bags, and desert the rural fringes of Lubumbashi – then Zaire’s second largest city. On the 45 single flipside is a soulful, funky hit Chakacha – a seemingly timeless afro-soul flavoured cut. Its catchy and hypnotic lyrical refrains, easily grow on the listeners. The vocals of the band’s one-time frontman, singer Kasim Combo, ooze with an unmistakable tinge of late 1960s to early 70s American soul rhythms, propelled onto the global showbiz spotlight by US pop stars Otis Redding, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. Their popular hits gained massive, almost staple airplay on Kenya’s then sole broadcaster’s twin national radio stations. The fact that this record was pressed on an obscure Athi River label, is perhaps symbolic of Loi Toki Tok’s last band phase – shifting base from Club Arcadia in the heart of Nairobi, to the Small World Club in Athi River – an equally nondescript urban town, tucked away along the Mombasa highway. This and two other singles are now available again from afro7.net. head over to the shop and grab your copy. Special thanks to Rainer Windisch @ konzeptlos.org for the Mungwana transfer!
A) Loi Tok Tok Eboma ‘Chakacha’|
B) Loi Tok Tok Eboma ‘Mungwana’
“One of the best Kikuyu disco tracks I’ve ever heard…!” Rickard Masip said having found few copies of ‘Family Planning’ on his last trip to Kenya in 2013. Often the continuing search for something fresh and original can be a striving fare, especially when you have to look through thousand and thousands of dirty old singles. Even though there are many Kikuyu Benga singles, few have the magnitude of By Law’s KIRU1 and KIRU6. Over a hypnotizing groove with a heavy backbeat, Family planning tells us the story of a family dispute between husband and wife, set in a traditional Kikuyu rural setting. The bone of contention in the marriage is that the wife has had enough with giving birth to more kids. They have 8 kids so far but the arrogant and rude husband is still not satisfied and wants more. Though grim it may seem the outfall is the man accept the humble argument of the wife. Notice the slight shift to a more Soukouss driven beat towards the end of the track. The bass heavy ‘Mumbi’ is in more positive fashion a classic love song about the authors passion for a woman he named the song after. He goes on tour to Nyeri where she is from and tells all the other guys to lay off his true love. Massive thanks to Moses Mungai for the translation! Both these tracks are now officially licensed and available as 12-inch through our own in-house label Afro7 records, limited to 350 copies in a heavy custom silk pressed sleeve. Both tracks extended and reworked by Finnish supreme Didier Selin. Buy it now!
A) Kiru Stars ‘Family Planning’|
B) Kiru Stars ‘Mumbi’
Le Nzoi aka The Bees originated sometimes in the early seventies assembled by the famous vocalist Edo Gang, who’s been in bands like Les Bantous De La Capitale and T.P.O.K. Jazz. The Edition Populaire was a label owned by Franco, and this gem of a tune ‘Declaration’ was recorded on a mobile recording studio Franco used for all his sub-labels. Never discard a Congolese track after the first minute, it starts cooking mid-way. The Bees start to sting real hard here at 1:45! Departing from a call and response duet a killer guitar riff kics in and meets the sax solo half-way. This track can be looped throughout the day and night, it has everything you need!
|A) Orchestre Le Nzoi ‘Decleration’
B) Orchestre Le Nzoi ‘Ou Est Le Probleme’
Love songs, irrespective of lyrical inspiration or language used – are endearing and captivating. They always have a way that connects to audiences with consummate ease. The song Amalia is no exception, despite its seemingly economical use of verses, astutely weaved around four simple lines that ooze with passion. Undeniably, the song-writer must have been deeply smitten and enamored by his feelings for Amalia. She is lyrically described as being “..ua langu la maisha ya dunia…” [the flower in his life on earth]. His heart yearns intensely for her charm, and love to shine through the darkness of a lifetime without her presence. The song’s laid-back and mellow refrain did likely serenade countless couples on the dance-floor, drawing lovebirds closer in tight embrace, each enveloped in the idyllic moment. Witty words like bolero [means slow-tempo] engraved on the 45rpm sleeve, were used to categorize specific tracks. Anyone with a keen ear for good music is bound to appreciate song’s adeptly structured guitar-work and rhythmic interplay, crafted during what was a possibly riveting recording session. On the flip side, Lakusema Mimi Sina – loosely translates in English as having nothing to say, steps up the tempo a notch higher but lyrics maintain the quest-for-love theme. Notably, either track bears less or minimal foreign influences – a tactful departure from the commonplace feature for most bands of the era. There is hardly any pronounced James Brown overtones on the trend-setting Loi Toki Tok band’s songs – grounded in an indigenous feel flowing through the instrumental arrangements.
|A) Loi Toki Tok ‘Amalia’
B) Loi Toki Tok ‘Lakusema Mimi Sina’
In times of “Feelabration” here at Afro7, we’ve tried to trace the Afrobeat sound in the East and Central Africa. Are there any musicians from Kenya, Tanzania or Congo that can match the prowess and sound of Nigerias Fela Kuti and his counterparts? The closest we come to trace this sound is Johnny Bokelo’s ‘Nakupenda Sana’ that we posted a few years ago. A Congolese artists in the ranks of Verckys and Franco. Mbuta Teka’s Orchestra Baya Baya (an offshoot of Veves) released this track on the Tanzanian state run label Kwetu. A rumbling backbone, funky guitar lick, jazzy horns and a soaring organ line. A different kind of opening jam! Sadly for us Soukous fans it doesn’t really take off in part 2 but still some amusing solos and and quirky lyrics. “Kidogo Sana” means “a pinch..” or “very little.. ” in English. “Alright man! That is new sounds from Africa!!” Enjoy…
|A) Orch. Baya Baya ‘Kidogo Sana Pt. 1’
B) Orch. Baya Baya ‘Kidogo Sana Pt. 2’
Kenya is renowned for its cross-breed of benga and rhumba rhythms. But listening to What Is It [That You Want] and My Everything – cut circa 1978 – these double-sided 45inch single tracks seem somewhat misplaced categorized as ‘Kenyan’ songs. That the funky and indisputably bouncy, disco pop-groove recordings were pressed in Nairobi during late 1970s, is a glaring pointer to the regional showbiz capital being a bedrock of diverse musical influences. Foreign pop music saturated playlists on then sole national radio broadcaster – with sprinklings of local songs accorded sporadic airplay. These formative twin tracks are credited to composer Abdalla ‘Dala’ Hamisi – who had just joined Mombasa Roots band alongside Ahmed ‘Emil’ Juma [both formerly affiliated to defunct Mombasa Vikings] and Tamrat Kabede [drums]. The group is arguably among most consistent bands plying their musical trade along Kenya’s Coastal strip. Their informal gigs began way back during mid 70s and one can still encounter the ‘Roots’ engaged in regular or private performances on evenings or weekends, often serving up covers and original cuts. The group prides itself as “.. a live and dancing band for all occasions..” Much like other musical outfits from the coast, the band formed in 1977, started out as a family affair. Its original line–up comprised the ‘Juma Brothers’ – Saeed [manager], Suleiman [keyboards], Ebrahim [guitarist] and then Ahmed ‘Emil’ [sax/vocals/guitar], who came on board later on.
A) Mombasa Roots Band ‘What is it that you want’
B) Mombasa Roots Band ‘My Everything’
As early as 1950s, electric guitars were a phenomenon in the Madagascar islands. In subsequent years, it was typical for lead guitarists to layer their strumming with dazzling riffs on a song hurtling along a frantic pace. This could have been the basis which likely influenced the late Jimmy Mawi’s style, long before he packed his bags destined for the Kenyan capital where he pitched tent in the mid 70s. Unwittingly, he was just coming ‘back home’ as at some point – Madagascar supposedly opted to break away from East Africa’s fold. More significantly, the islands have on instances been described as the country “..where old rock albums go to die..” This uncanny aphorism perhaps resonates with the groove that infuses hard-to-find, rare – until recently, handful tracks credited to Mawi. The not-so-popular Madagascan guitarist virtuoso’s insistent dance-frenzied, Afro-funk singles Black Star Blues, Let Me Keep Away From You, I Want Get Up and Black Dialogue – are already making a grand comeback on the global disco trail. Mawi’s name is undeniably as unfamiliar as his previously out-of-circulation songs, but which are now available on limited editions 10″ Vinyl on Soundway records. Incidentally, rave reviews blatantly draw parallels between Mawi’s “..rough heartfelt frenzy..” vocals expression with his first-name sake Jimi Hendrix’s bluesy funky-rock elements. These 45s were initially recorded some 40-years ago, during late 1970s in Nairobi, then East Africa region’s musical hub.
A) Jimmy Mawi ‘Vero’
B) Jimmy Mawi ‘Broken Love’
Hazar Imam or Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan is a British Shia Muslim imam and business magnate. His following in Eastern Africa extends to great recognition for his religious role and aid work. Given the fact that there are several development aid institutions, including health and education services with his name on it. In occasion of his 1981 visit to Kenya this single was issued by Ismailia Women’s association. Sung in Swahili ‘Karibu Karim’ delivers classical Indian instrumentation spiced with a cool 80s synth, catchy chorus in a trad meets modern package. Notice the slight taarab feel over the arrangements. Sadru & Zeenat Kassam on vocals. Music by Shiraz. Lyrics by Mansoor. Enjoy!
A) Shiraz with the Sunny ‘Karibu Karim’
B) Shiraz with the Sunny ‘Believe me, Na Badlenge Hum’
About time we brought out another Taarab single, it’s taken a while as they are bloody hard to come by. Some of the bigger Kenyan Taarab labels like Pwani, Mzuri seem to be hard trace even in sales and auction lists. Taaarab is coastal music, Arabic fused rhythms of the Swahili coast, expanding from the south shores of Tanzania, Zanzibar and to the north shores of Lamu in Kenya. Often in small settings with Harmonium, wooden flutes and indian percussion. Omari is praying for his dead parents and he see them in his dreams. “Samahani” is a song about forgiveness.
A) Omari Commander & his Group ‘Samahani’
B) Omari Commander & his Group ‘Omari Baba Mzazi’
Famous band from Tanzania, this release was before they changed their name to DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra after a sponsor deal. Notice the name typo done by the Kenyan label press. Read Werner Graebner excellent notes on the band over at East African Music.com This number translated to “Gossip among people” is a great showcase number; fluid rumbling backbone, fierce guitar interplay and fantastic horns. We’ve glued both parts together so you can hear the song in it’s entirely .. even put in the drop noise of the needle in the start. If you are curious about other releases on the label follow the label logo graphics on bottom right.
|A&B) Orchestre Milimani Park ‘Fitina Za Watu’|
Anyone who is interested, and ready for a short history brief in last century’s Kenyan music scene should read Doug Paterson’s excellent introduction notes to Soundway’s compilation Kenya Special. Doug makes a point about Kenyan bands being tuned in to international sounds around, and The African Pioneers ‘My Loving Sister is a great example. First off, it’s a weeding song, not a very uncommon feature in East African matrimonial celebrations. But this one is sung in English. A punchy guitar riff with a nice catchy melody, and the arrangements takes some quirky turns and leaps that adds to the appeal. Enjoy!
|A) African Pioneers ‘My Loving Sister’|
MOTO MOTO, a subsidiary label of A.I.T records, a Kenyan distribution source for Tanzanian bands. Acts like Orchestra Dar International, Vijana Jazz, Jamhuri Jazz Band and Urafiki are frequently featured. Check out our sales selection for a roundup with audio snippets. If you have special interest check out the book on the subject of Tanzanian popular music written by Alex Perullo. We feature a 45 that was dug up by extraordinaire French digger and DJ Grégoire de Villanova. A great funky doublesider with kick ass guitar, heavy organ and drums in the mix. Some are put off by the slightly mannered vocals, but we think it rocks just as hard .. black black is beautiful indeed! Psst! If your destined to find the song on vinylt there is is also a slightly cheaper French RCA pressing.
|A) Sunbust ‘Let’s Live Together’
B) Sunbust ‘Black is Beautiful’
So here’s my absolute favorite kenyan 45. It’s actually a very odd and obscure afro soul masterpiece, with the catchy and hypnotic vocals ‘Chakacha… Mombassa’ that does the job… what else do you need? Maybe some handclap with that? Yes indeed! This 45 pressed on ultra rare kenya label Athi River was made by Loitoktok Eboma, with his band called Cassim Combo. The b-side of this record called Wild in Bush is also killer, but I’ll keep it for later… Thank you and please just enjoy!
A) Cassim Combo ‘Chakacha’
B) Cassim Combo ‘Wild in the Bush’
A personal favorite from the mighty Nairobi Matata Jazz catalogue that truly showcase how tight they where back in the days. This Swahili number pretty much has it all for me, a bouncy bassline, superb breakdowns, fierce guitarlines plus a razor sharp rhythm section to match. Update! A user comment requested part one of the song so we’ve added that one as well. Please enjoy!
Nairobi Matata Jazz ‘Tereza Sina Ubaya Pt.1’
Nairobi Matata Jazz ‘Tereza Sina Ubaya Pt.2’
JOSEPH KAMARU – 1965-2013 48 YEARS IN MUSIC – AND STILL GOING ON! Backing up a dozen releases and half a million records sold, this is a name on the Kenyan music scene you cannot avoid. Like his kikuyu counterpart Daniel Kamau, JK also had his own vinyl record label imprint with KENYA UNITED SOUNDS. The success of his seventies outings ensured him a prolific career mastering all the ups and downs of the Kenyan music scene to this day. He has been performing Gospel music the recent years. Read the Daily Nation post “The memoirs of a musical maverick” and see the K24 feature “Where are they now” on YouTube. The Über funky driven ‘Mukurara Nake’ a is not a political fueled track but merely the classic emotional interaction between a man and a woman. Sung out in the Kikuyu language a man comes home to find his girlfriend in bed with another man, the disdained man is not angry, this is something he has been suspecting for some time… as the lyrics goes: Since we have known each other a little over 1 year you should know when I am mad. Look at my eyes and see proof that I am not mad. No matter what you do even if you lock the door with chairs and locks, I will still leave so the two of you can sleep together. I was so prepared, I had dressed up for you, brushed my teeth so I can kiss you but sadly now I will go home and sleep alone staring at the roof. Stop pretending that you don’t know your other lover just because am here. Stop making him look bad in my eyes because no matter what you do am leaving. Thanks to Moses Mungai for the translation.
|Kamaru Celina Band ‘Mukurara Nake’|
Dug up by Duncan Brooker in the late 90’s, and later to be compiled on the first wave of Africa rare groove-comps; AFRO-ROCK on Koda an Strut. ‘MABALA’ is a Kenya instrumental funk classic! Layered with spacey Moog effects, a bluesy guitar lick, stripped sax and cool spoken female vocals it showcases the Yahoos in great form. A band who have several noteworthy releases on different labels, note the Taarab collaborations with vocalist Hafusa Abasi. Their largest output however was on the Matata and KWE labels. Judging from the musical output of these labels I’ve come to believe the band was performing in tourist circles, if anyone have any more history of the Yahoos band please let us know.
|Fathili & The Yahoos Band ‘Mabala’|
We’ve been busy updating the shop side of things this summer, you can now actually order original Kenyan sevens directly from the blog. You’ll find the different categories under music shop on the right. There are only a 100 singles added so far, we will add more during the next months. The elusive Almasi label is always interesting as the styles in the music differs from each release. Can’t find much information about the band but it’s pretty certain they originate from the town with the same name in the Rift Valley province. Note that in seventies Kikuyu Benga the foremost and predominant instrument used is the guitar, it’s nice to hear an organ in the arrangements for a change.
|A) Nyahururu Success ‘Wendo wa Mithaiga’|
Finally a track by the legendary Kenyan military band Maroon Commandos, ‘Adeh Deh’ delivers in afro-pop fashion with a pinch of reggae in the mix. With a catchy sing-along lyrics and a sweet feel-good melody. A significant horn section sets the pace of the tune. If its a Maroon Commandos track, expect killer horns! Formed in 1970 by the legendary band leader Habel Kifoto, its military band origins quickly established the group and landed a deal with Polydor in 1971. A success story that landed a string of hits over a span of 20 years. Several 70’ties tunes from the Maroons will be featured on this blog in the coming months
A) Maroon Commandos ‘Adeh – Deh’
You can image what kind of influence Manu Dibango’s mega hit ‘SOUL MAKOSSA’ had on this slice of East African Disco funk. In typical Kenyan fashion, the common phrase “ASANTE SANA” is used repeatedly in the refrain. Meaning “Thank you very much” and with the included cheeky female sexual groans you can do your own further conclusions on the lyrics. Both sides in one mix. Enjoy!
A&B) Said w/Wyne Barnes ‘Asante Sana’
Ohh! Special nightclub pressing, or is Jera Inn a hotel? Probably a mid seventies pressing and it seems the only output on this label is this excellent Cavacha tune by the Great Boma Liwanza. Another Congo import group that recorded and released in Nairobi. The group also had a full LP release and 45 outputs on major labels as Africa, ASL, Pathe & Super Musiki du Zaire. Check out Muzikifan.com for more info on the band. The interplay between the guitar and the horn section is super, and the intricate drum rhythm that sets the pace of the tune. Both sides roughly edited together. Enjoy!
A&B) Boma Liwanza ‘Jera Inn Pt. 1 & 2’
A sweet vocal number by the Elgonets, a group that had quite a few releases on different labels. Listen to the great driving guitar/drum shuffle beat that lays the mood for the crooner ending the track; “God bless Africa, Africa we love, with wild animals, with oceans and woods, god bless the continent Africa, Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, use your bow and your machete and guard it. The togetherness of Africa is worth great goals. Look at it and what it offers, wild animals, lions, crocodiles ..” Thanks to Irine Nzungula for the translation.
|A) The Elgonets ‘Umoja Wa Africa’|
Probably a hit song, as this is one of the more common Ahma singles. Appears to be the Greece pressing without the picture sleeve. Great double sider in typical hypnotic Ethio-style fashion, oozing with timeless quality. Arrangements provided by the all famous Mulatu Astatke, vocals by Menelik Wossenachew and The All star band providing the sounds. ‘Belew Bedubaye’ utilizes the Ethiopian scale in full with a clever piano line, cool chorus, handclaps and a dirty sax line improvising over the main theme. ‘Tezeta’ has a more dreamlike mellow kind of vibe, listen repeatedly and picture yourself on a warm day in Adis with a Hakim Stout in your hand. እንጆይ ትሀ ሊስተን ..
|A) All star band ‘Belew Bedudaye’
B) All star band ‘Tezeta’
No it’s not the new IPHONE 5 we are presenting here, it’s the B-side of a Kenyan single released on the Kikuyu label late 70’ties. It’s one we’ve come to like during the last few months as it features some cool drumming, a distorted wah-wah guitar and wicked bumpin’ base. In typical Kikuyu style you can’t help but hum along to the refrain. Another love sung we presume as we can clearly hear “I love you” in some of the vocals. Listen to the tempo change at 02:22!
|B) Kiratu & his Group ‘Yanagiria Kayo’|
We keep the trend of posting dancefloor oriented material and this track is no exception. It’s a cover tune of a Loi Loki Tok song. And it’s a hard one; heavvy driving percussion with a neat chant, dirty wah-wah, fierce horns and a wicked synth riff. Released by Polydor East-Africa, judging from the Mijikenda tag on the label this is from the Coastal regent of Kenya, most possibly a Mombasa band. Major thanks to Rickard Masip of Tropical treats fame for this one.
A) Cobra ‘Wari Wa Pt. 1’
About time we posted something proper funky. A Killer ghetto production with a huge break, catchy horns and a infectious moog lick high up in the mix. And wait till the trumpet solo hits in the end. We’re suspecting this might be a cover of something coming out of the US in mid seventies? The WRC label is a weird one, with local cover productions, reggae hits and a lot of mediocre disco stuff. We’re glad Nairobi native George Fombe produced this one, as nearly everything that has his name on is gold. Where is he today and who said Kenya can’t be funky?
|A) Silver Survivors Experience ‘Funky-Station’|
The cool label name pretty much sums it up. We can’t find any info on the band and our KENTANZA source tells us it’s the only release on the label out of two singles. A top notch traditional track here with a happy driving beat and a great guitar lick. And we love the way the harmony vocals works here. From the Taita tribe sung in the Kitaita language, closely related to Swahili. The lyrics tells another story about moral and ethics, don’t be careless and play-away with your life.
|A) Gonda Success Band ‘GOnda Ya Bara Isanga’|
It’s late 1980. Imagine yourself sitting in a local bar downtown Harare with a cold Zambezi by your side. The comfort and mood is just right as the red neon light paints a positive atmosphere in the bar. There is a stage there and it’s starting to get crowded! L’Orchestra Les Igao band has come all the way from Kenya and Congo to perform their newest hit. “African Disco Zimbabwe” It’s the end of an era as colonial times are history, you can feel the joy in crowd and the rush of the band. Big ups to fellow crate digger Christian Mikkelsen of ONA fame for turning up a copy of this beauty from the collection. We have no info on the band but you can read more about the City Boom label on Kentanza vinyl. Enjoy!
|A&B) Les Igao Band ‘African Disco Zimbabwe’|
We haven’t found any information on the label nor the artist here, looks like a private one off. Great label design, is that a horn upside down? The music speaks for itself here, a religious Kikuyu duet with a great slab of horns and funky guitar drive. In tradition of similar sounding Kikuyu groups at the time (Lulus band, Rift Valley bros) the sound on the b-side is nearly all instrumental. Note the funky change-up at 1:35 and wait for the bass solo! This smells of dancefloor potential. Probably from around mid seventies 75 or 76. Enjoy![audio:http://www.afroseven.net/songs/Band-sauti-popote-ithui-riu-pt12.mp3|titles=Band sauti popote – Adam Na Hawa pt1&2]
We have been up and down the coast of Kenya’s Swahili land scouting for records but we never came across this little 45. It was just a few years ago tropical master digger Rickard Masip turned up a copy in his own homeland of Sweden. Obviously a souvenir brought back from the Reef Hotel Mombasa (still running today!). A killer funky instrumental double sider. Percussive, organ, wah-wah and tribal vocal chant. Infectious! The band also released a full album by the name of the Vikings ‘African songs’, recorded in Switzerland. Both songs from the single are featured on the lp but the 45 take sounds earlier and better to our ears. [audio:http://afroseven.net/songs/mombasa-vikings-kibe-kibe.mp3|titles=mombasa vikings – kibe kibe]
One of many Lulu’s band singles. A prolific Kikuyu group that recorded for several labels, the groups private D.K. Undugu Sounds was run by the groups leader Daniel Kamau. Expect excellent loud pressing and tight production, simple funky aural esthetics’s as tight drumming, catchy vocals and a thousand dollar guitar riff! Perfect for the dancefloors of 2012.
|B) Lulus Band ‘Nguinio Nuu’|
Another Kenyan Congolese import band. And another AIT subsidiary label. There is no information to scout on the NET whatsoever on the band, although they released three other singles on the same label. Build up around a lovely hummin’ chorus, great atmosphere and a kickass tropical guitar harmonic ostinato, listen when it goes jazzy and the horns kick in midway .. what a tune! Both part 1 and 2 from the single assembled in the audio.
|A&B) Orch. Teke Teke Libala ‘Libala Bombanda Pasi’|
Here is a gem of a tune from Orchestra Bana Ekanga. Apparently a group that was an offshoot of the famous BABA NATIONAL, read more about the band and Baba Gaston on the excellent Muzikifan’s article Congolese bands in east Africa, The song features an Intricate drum beat with a beautiful female vocal effort by Nana Akumu wa Kudu of Pepelepe fame. Don’t believe the hype? Listen in and get hypnotized! [audio:http://afroseven.net/songs/Orch.-Bana-Ekanga-Haraka-Haina-Baraka.mp3]
A duet for a change, a very sweet growing slow-burn track musically labeled Coast, strangely it has this Ethiopia vibe to it. The Famous Nyahururu Boys was a Kikuyu band with frontman James Wahome who is credited for the tune and the label. As it is sung in Kikuyu we can’t find anyone who can translate it, but we’ve got it confirmed from our Swahili source it’s another love song 🙂 Listen in while it build towards the end ..
|A) Famous Nyahururu Boys ‘Mwendwa’|
If we got our facts straight ‘L’orchestre Masantula’ is a Tanzanian group, released on an AIT subsidiary label. ‘SAUDA’ A nice traditional track with a nice uplifting edge: driving percussive backing, guitar, sax and cool chorus. Curious about the message of the song we had to consult with our man in Nairobi, unfortunately he lost his mobile phone so we will have to wait to get the lyrics translations sorted out. Anyways we’ve merged both sides of the vinyl platter so enjoy the whole track! If you like this track we suggest you buy it, it was compiled on Essential East African Hits Volume 2 and The Essential East African Collection Vol 2. [audio:http://afroseven.net/songs/Orch.-Masantula-Sauda.mp3|titles=Orch. Masantula – Sauda]
Massive thanks to MitMitta music for supplying us with another winner from Mahmoud Ahmed. Built up around a thriving beat, majestic horn section and a great poppy chorus, it sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1974. We are thrilled to hear that Mahmoud Ahmed is still around and performing. Next 45 update comes from Tanzania. Stay tuned! [audio:http://afroseven.net/songs/Mahmoud-Ahmed-Gebtout-yehon-fikren.mp3|titles=Mahmoud Ahmed – Gebtout yehon fikren]
So it wouldn’t be long before we featured our first Ethiopian Track. Big thanks to our man Vemund in Addis for sorting out a trade. Mahmoud Ahmed a veteran on the Ethiopian scene for nearly five decades delivers here a great mellow soulful performance, backed up with a great rhodes lick and horn section by the Dahlack Band. Oozing with excellence and released on his own private label Mahmoud TV & Radio house. Again we’d love to hear the meaning of the lyrics, please post if you have something to share. [audio:http://afroseven.net/songs/Mahmoud-Ahmed-Yefikir-Woha-Temu.mp3]