Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tchico - Giselle (1983)

Pambou Tchicaya Denis, better known as Tchico, came of age in Les Bantous de la Capitale, but in the late 70s left Brazzaville on a musical odyssey that would take him first to Nigeria, and then to other neighboring countries. This record captures sweet-voiced Tchico during a mid-career period in Paris, with support from a first-rate session band that included Bopol, Dally Kimoko and others.

Perhaps because of his light voice, Tchico's music seems like the champagne of rumba, not-too-serious but refreshing and pleasurable. While the cover of this album would indicate its title is the singer's nickname, excellent discographies here and here use the first track's name as the title. At one time Global Groove had this record and a treasure trove of Tchico's numerous, varied recordings. This may be a slightly cleaner version than previously available.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Viva! Zimbabwe - Dance Music From Zimbabwe (1984)

Released a few years after the overthrow of the apartheid Rhodesian government, this compilation celebrated independence and the vibrant music that surrounded it. First released in Britain by Earthworks, it also introduced Zimbabwe's torrid, guitar-driven dance music to the world.

Many of the groups on this record became internationally successful and famous, including The Four Brothers, Devera Ngwena Jazz Band, and especially Thomas Mapfumo. There also are treats from Nyami Nyami Sound, New Black Montana, James Chimombe, and Super Sounds. A well-traveled record, it took a while to get the sound where I like it. It works. . .

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sound D'Afrique II 'Soukous' (1982)

By the early 1980s reggae had gained a large audience in the U$, perhaps the greatest "foreign" penetration of the music market since the Cuban wave that began decades earlier. After Bob Marley's tragic death in 1981, Island Records saw an opportunity to experiment with marketing African music, which already was ubiquitous in many European urban centers.

Among the first probes were the two Sound D'Afrique  compilations of African pop. This second volume was released in 1982, and while it is not exactly a collection of soukous, it is a set of Congolese music and three songs from nearby countries influenced by rumba. What is remarkable is that none of the musicians collected was a major star, except perhaps for the very talented Pablo Lubadika Porthos. A few months after this record was released, Island unleashed King Sunny Ade's Juju Music, completely eclipsing the Sound d'Afrique records and igniting the "world music" heyday.

This album does collect the major hits from the assorted musicians, however, and it is a pleasant listen. The opening two cuts, from Central African Republic's Lea Lignanzi and Cameroon's Mensy, are sweet, and Pablo's "Madeleina" is fine. A few individual albums from these and other musicians on the album, as well as this record itself, were once available on the excellent Global Groove site.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Le Grande Maître Franco et son Tout Puissant O.K. Jazz - Mario (1985)

After a prolonged silence catalyzed by flooding and extended by beginning a project to digitize my CDs, I owe you the sublime. Mario has been my favorite Franco et le T.P.O.K. album since it first appeared: A real treasure. The title track is one of Franco's major hits, but all three tracks on this album are great.

"Mario" is the perfect Madilu/Franco symbiosis, the two trading verses and both singing with incredible soul. This album was recorded during golden years where T.P.O.K. reached a pinnacle of tightness and power. Words do not really suffice.

This is a pristine pressing, so for a limited time a FLAC version is referenced in the comments.

A kind reader informed me that I had the wrong song titles for Side B on this album; I relied on an internet database because I only had the cover images with me, while I processed the sound file and post, and I mistakenly used the song titles from the first "Mario" album. It's not my first mistake, nor will it be my last. Below is a photo of the B-side label, so you can grab the correct titles.

There are a couple of YouTube videos with the band performing "Mario." Here is one I enjoyed: