dimanche 18 mars 2012

Choc Stars - Choc=Shock=Choc (1986)

The Choc Stars were one of the descendent bands of the extensive Zaiko Langa Langa family, formed in 1983 by Bozi Boziana and Ben Nyamo. During the mid-'80s wonderful singer Matumona Defao Lulendo joined, and a number of wonderful albums resulted. The pioneer "world music" label GlobeStyle, which had an exquisite ability to find and publish essential music from Africa and beyond, licensed two 1986 Afro Rythmes records, for nearly simultaneous UK and U$ releases. This spectacular record is one, and the other is queued for imminent posting.

One of my colleagues at The Beat, the Congolese music expert Martin Sinnock, devoted one of his first column's to the Choc Stars, and I recommend reading it here. Though none of the musicians are credited on the album sleeve, Martin identifies Koffi Olomide as a guest on this session. The harmonic singing throughout this record is fabulous, especially notable on "Lieven" and "Santa." The guitarists are great. Anyone who has further information on musicians, please share in comments. Others, just immerse yourself and...

Choc Stars - Awa et Ben (1986)

Here is the Siamese twin to my last post, delayed by two feet of snow and then 5,000 miles of flight. I believe this record comes from the same recording session as the one below, and have always felt that the strongest songs of the session were chosen for the first Shock. The Choc Stars are no less impressive on this record: the singing is impeccable, the guitars are splendid (who are they?), and the rhythms rockin'.

So have a listen, and see what you think. Are these songs weaker, or did I just tire of the formula after eight long songs on two records?

Le Grand Maitre Franco - Attention Na SIDA (1987)

What better album to begin a second year and the second hundred posts than this masterpiece from the grand Franco Luambo? The long title track is a polemic and a protest, an outcry and a public health message, a heartfelt cry to the world to beware the scourge of AIDS. One cannot listen to Franco singing, with more emotion than ever before, without being moved. His outrage thunders forth with the authoritative voice of a god, while ache and despair are just below the surface. Two years after producing this tremendous recording, Franco would die of the dread disease.

Recorded in Brussels while on business without his band, Franco recruited members of Victoria Eleison to back him. The music absolutely sparkles. While the first magnificent moral diatribe carries a message, the two songs on the flip side are built to move the body. The Checain song "Mpo Na Nini Kaka Ngai?" swings with a retro feel, while the more concise "Na Poni Kaka Yo Mayi" carries the youthful energy of the Langa Langa generation. Feast and . . .

Papa Wemba - La Vie Est Belle (1989)

Let's round out the offerings of less-known works from the most-known African singer/bandleaders with this soundtrack from Papa Wemba's dramatic film debut. I probably should attribute this album to "Various artists," but to me it is Papa Wemba with adornments. There is not an abundance of songs on this album, and like most soundtracks, there is a theme that gets varied treatments. Yet that theme allows Wemba's extraordinary voice to have full stage, often over minimal, acoustic or traditional backing, or a cappella.

Of course there is full rumba from Wemba, too, as well as tasty songs from Zaiko Langa Langa, Tshala Muana and Klody. Those songs are all fine, but the bare voice of Papa Wemba is the wonder. This is one of my treasure's from the early days of Stern's Africa, who rescued it from its original 1987 release on Miracle Records.

Mbilia Bel - Phenomene (1989)

In late 1989 my partner Jess and I prepared to go see Mbilia Bel at a Bay Area club. We gently filled our infant first son's ears with cotton, and then swaddled his head in bright African cloth. He fit perfectly into a large New Guinean string bag in a miniature sleeping bag. At the dynamic gig we took turns holding him, dancing as well as we could. Many of the songs we danced to are on this album, which was new at the time, published in the U.S. It brings me bittersweet memories, as life's changes can transform memory.

I bought this record at the gig, and came to love the song Manzil-Manzil. In fact the whole album is deeply imbedded in my core.

It finally made it to CD in Europe, ten or so years ago, and perhaps it still is available there. I urge you you search for it. Meanwhile I offer this gem to the rest of the world because it should not be missed: Neither the music, nor the great cover picture that did not make the digital release.

Zaiko Langa-Langa - Subissez Les Consequences (1987)

What better way to book-end my last post than with this Zaïko Langa-Langa album from the same year, presumably with a very similar line-up of personnel? Presumably because nobody in the band is listed on this album sleeve. I hate it when musicians are not acknowledged for their fine work!

Filled with great guitars, percussion and singing, and typical fiery sebenes, this album will heat up your weekend. The first song, by Bimi Ombale, is excellent. However, it will not heat my house this winter, and I am fairly occupied stockpiling firewood these weeks. My slow posting pace should pick up when the cold sets in, all too soon. Meanwhile, snack on this:

M'Pongo Love et Alexandre Sambat - Exclusivite

Inspired by the great post on dialAfrica, with M'pongo Love's first record, here is one of her last recordings, a collaboration with Gabon's Alexandre Sambat. M'pongo (Landu) Love had an ephemeral career full of promise that was cut short by a fatal disease at the age of 34.

Compared to her early recordings, made as a very young woman, the songs on this album are radically more produced, utilizing state-of-the-art technology and a stable of excellent musicians. The one brilliant thread that connects this album to earlier works is M'pongo's wonderful singing. She excels with her two songs on this short record, and on the opening Sambat composition "Mbecka," which is choice. Yet even her sweet voice cannot save the insipid, thankfully short, "Hymne a la Paix." Maybe you enjoy hymns more than I do?

Tshala Muana - Nasi Nabali (1985)

Here is another dose of mutuashi rhythms from the champion of the southeastern Congo style, Tshala Muana. This is one of my favorite Tshala Muana records, in part due to the superb lead guitar provided by Souzy Kasseya. None of the musicians is credited on the record sleeve, so if you know who else sat in on this session, please let us know in the comments.

Tshala Muana was one of very few women to succeed in Congo's male-dominated music industry, through her strong song composition, sweet singing and flamboyant style. After beginning her career as a singer and dancer in both Mpongo Love's and Abeti's bands, she became a star in her own right. This album captures her at her peak.

Souzy Kasseya - Le Phénomènal (1984)

A good bookend for Tshala Muana's release below is this solo outing by talented guitarist Souzy Kasseya, recorded in Paris around the same time. This is very much an in-studio production, with Kasseya providing all guitars, programmed drums and many voices. Manu Lima adds keyboards, and there are a couple of horns, a little understated percussion and a few female backing vocals thrown in the mix. The result is a record that sounds over-produced, almost clinical, and quite thin.

While listening to Le Phénomènal, I could not help but compare it to his previous solo recording, the excellent Le Retour de l'As, which is much more open and natural sounding. More real. That record is available here on the excellent Global Groove site. Today's share was rereleased in Britain by Earthworks, but did not sell well. Get both of these records and see what you think.

Tshala Muana - Biduaya (1989)

As the 1980s came to a close, zouk music was extremely popular in dance halls all over the world. It should be no surprise that Tshala Muana would open her album Biduaya with a track imbued with zouk, but perhaps it also signals a phase shift in her career where the music became less tied to her mutuashi roots.

This album is certainly more "produced" than the other two Muana albums offered on this site, at least in the dominant use of keyboards and programmed rhythms. When I looked at the cover, while listening to the album as I digitized it, it occurred to me that the music was about as natural as her hairdoo.

The two best songs on the album are Tshala's own, the title track "Biduaya" and "Ngoyi," and it might be my imagination, but I think she sings with more conviction on them than on the three songs by Dino Vangu. Of course her two songs are produced by Souzy Kasseya, with a completely different band than on the other songs. They make the album worthwhile. There is also a version of the classic "Africa Mokili Mobimba;" a yawn version.

Quatre Etoiles - 6 Tubes (1987)

Add Syran Mbenza to the personnel in the last post, et voila! Quatres Etoiles, the fantastic all-star band that proved to be the gold standard for soukous through the 1980s and early 1990s. Besides the other Four Stars, Bopol, Wuta Mayi and Nyboma, this album has awesome lead guitar from Dally Kimoko on two Nyboma-penned cuts, "Omba" and "Samba."

While Quatre Etoiles recorded in the increasingly technology-drenched Parisian environment, their soukous retained the feel of classic Congolese rumba. How could it be otherwise, since these grand veterans had diverse, influential participation in many of Congo's seminal bands?

Two great sources for information on Quatre Etoiles and many other bands are Frank Bessem's Musiques d'Afriques and Gary Stewart's web version of his excellent Rumba on the River. Global Groove has a good copy of Quatre Etoiles' 1985 recording, Dance, so I will not need to post mine.

My copy of this record comes from a Zimbabwe pressing, and the album sleeve is pretty basic. I found the original cover on the net and posted both of them, for your amusement. Luckily the sound quality is nearly perfect for this very fine album.

vendredi 9 mars 2012



01. Célé Féli 02. Confiance 03. Compromis 04. Confiance 05. Piano Piano 06. Lilo Jolie 07. Lizy 08. Mbeya Mbeya 09. Obi 10. Valentine 

Stony - Mes Emotions (2011)





:: Tracklist ::..

01. Intro (Mes Émotions)
02. Toujours La Même
03. Mi Amor
04. Mon Inconnu
05. Lanmou Cache Feat. M'Wayne
06. Simplement Moi
07. Maman
08. Reviens Moi Feat. Dady Killa
09. J'attends L'amour
10. Souviens Toi
11. Let Me Go Feat. Mac Tyer
12. Loin De Moi
13. La Vie...
14. Mwen Révé

Bien Glacé - MK III





:: Tracklist ::..

01. Milca : Que Des Mots
02. Lorenz : Dans Tous Mes Etats
03. Lylah : Pour Le Meilleur
04. Thayna : Le Coeur A Ses Raisons
05. Kim : Je Suis Accro
06. Kenedy : Enmé Mwen En Kreyol
07. Marysa : Avec Toi
08. Teeyah & Alan Cavé : Un Bout De Mon Amour
09. Eleeza : Tout En Douceur
10. Face à Face : On Ti Moman
11. Nesly : Ton Ange
12. Marvin : Notre Histoire
13. Warren : A Tort Ou A Raison
14. David Adams : Lanmou An Danjé
15. Sweet Way : Si Seulement
16. Lorenz Feat. Thayna : Notre Histoire
17. Kaysha : Ily (Mark G's Old School Remix)
18. Aycee Jordan : Yeah

Njie - Destination Soleil (2011)




:: Tracklist ::..


Lynnsha - Île & Moi (2012)




:: Tracklist ::..

01. Intro Pour Toi
02. Ne M'en Veux Pas
03. Se Te Vou
04. Plus La Meme feat Never Try
05. Kobosana Te feat Fally Ipupa
06. Fanm Kreol feat Jocelyne Beroard
07. Reveil En Douceur
08. Elle Prie Elle Crie
09. Sel Patri
10. Mon Ideal feat Neg Marrons
11. You & Me feat Djodje
12. Destiny
13. Acquis
14. Enlaces feat Kalash
15. Besoin De Ton Love feat Kaysha
16. Okay feat Mainy
17. Sans Toi