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’
With a good dose of Reggae and Eddy Grant’s magic touch, Nigerian born Sonny Okusun had a big international hit in 79 with the political fueled ‘Fire in the Soweto’. 2 years earlier he had released ‘Papas land’ a key Africa record that had impact spanning from west to east. Kenyans own pop star Slim Ali’s version features great horns, wah-wah, moog, and sassy vocals .. this is the version I personally come back to. Released on the mystical World Records label, responsible for catering the Kenyan music market with domestic artists but also acts ranging from pre-War Señor Soul to Kylie Minogue.
|B) Slim Ali ‘Papa’s Land’|
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’
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’|
In all its splendor here is the original Kenyan ‘AFRO-ROCK’ label pressing from the mid-seventies. Let’s follow the lifespan of this song: 1977 – second pressing released in France . 1978 – Used in BBC documentary on African Music. 2001 – Compiled on Duncan Brooker’s Afro-Rock volume 1. 2005 – A remixed NYC/Cuban version with hip-hop vocals is released on Yerba Buenas Island Life album. 2006 – opens up the Last King of Scotland film, as soundtrack. 2010 – Afro-Rock Vol. 1 re-released by Strut with additional unissued material by the same artist. It could be interesting to know what Ismael himself gained from all this renowned fame. Ironically enough it seems from this deleted article that it was Kenya’s large on-going acts of music piracy that shelved his career back in the day. And sadly enough the article also tells us that Ismail Jingo passed away in Mombasa some years ago. In the light of its day ‘FEVER’ was obviously inspired by its West African contemporaries. With its catchy refrain, funky base and killer horn section it was unquestionably a hit record when it was released and to this day. Allegedly a dead rare original LP from Jingo also exists.
|A&B) Jingo ‘Fever’|
There is something very appealing about these early Ethiopian Philips singles. Especially with the picture sleeve. They often come with a very high price tag, if it’s in the right condition. Musically a league of it’s own. This monster of a doublesider showcases Mulatu Astatke at his creative peak. He had just returned back to his homeland from the US ready to shape what later became the Ethio-Jazz sound. Here in a collaboration with the renowned Ethiopian singer Tilahun Gessesse, who he also recorded several other great singles with. You can find them over at Peter Piper’s great Modern Ethiopian Music Discographies. ‘Emnete’ was reissued on 10′ SNDW10001 by Soundway. ‘Tezalègn yétentu’ is avaiable on éthiopiques-17: Tlahoun Gésséssé from Buda Musique.
|Gessesse & Mulatu ‘Tiz Alegn Yetintu’
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’|
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’|