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’
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’|