Friday, November 30, 2012

Chief Ebenezer Obey - Je Ka Jo (1983)

I've had this record in the hopper for awhile, and forgot why I did not post it 18 months ago when I digitized it. Perhaps it was available elsewhere, then, or maybe because my record sleeve was trashed by water damage. The image to the left is one I gleaned from the web and enhanced.

Ebenezer Obey, of course, is one of juju's premier ambassadors, having carried his bubbling music around the world. Released on the major Virgin label during the juju rush in 1983, this album was crafted to cross boundaries, incorporating funk influences and a global pop sensibility. Simple English lyrics make the music even more accessible, and at times it sounds like juju lite. Keep listening until you reach the second side, where the wonderful dun dun talking drum is given much more space to help create rich, percussive rhythms. Mixed with laid-back singing, spacey guitar and off-key keyboards, the dun dun sets up a perfect groove to bring on the weekend.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Segun Adewale and his Superstars International - Adewale Play For Me (1984)

If it were not for the mightier marketing muscle of Island Records promoting Sunny Ade, this bopping album may have introduced juju music to the world. Released in the UK by Stern's in 1983 and a year later in the U$, by Rounder, Adewale Play For Me is full of tremendous percussion, great harmonic singing, and sweet slide guitar.

Segun Adewale began his career in I.K. Dairo's band, before moving on to work in a succession of bands and ultimately forming his own successful Superstars International. A short biography can be found here. One of the earlier recordings of the band, this record is an upbeat drop to counter the darkness that fills the news.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Afro Sunshine - This Is Afrika (1989)

The small, arid country Botswana has not been a fount of music, and its pop scene has been dominated by the teeming culture of its southern neighbor, South Africa. Yet in the late 80s a couple of bands produced records, and one, Duncan Senyatso and the Kgwanyape Band,  even achieved international distribution.

This is the other record, by Afro Sunshine, which proved popular in Gabarone, but never crossed as many borders. Weaving strands of influences from the south, and from Ndebele Zimbabwe, soul and even Prince-like funk, this is a pretty mixed recording. I particularly like the song "Tote." See what you think. . .

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz - Sweet Mother (1977)

Today I present one of the all-time classics in African dance music. When this marriage of highlife guitars with the most earnest, universal tribute to Mother exploded from the studio in Nigeria, Sweet Mother swept over the continent like a fresh breeze. Prince Nico Mbarga's sweet voice delivers his simple, upbeat messages mostly in English, with a lightness that influenced, among others, Tchico. "Aki Special" is the other mega-hit on this album, which also lent its title to the CD rerelease that likewise is long out-of-print.

This ± 1981 U$ release was among the first handful of 'world' music releases by then-vibrant, independent Rounder Records. Licensed from Rogers All Stars, there is abundant information on the back sleeve and album insert (included in the download). Rereading those notes today, which foreshadowed the 'world music' boom by a few years, is nostalgic. So is the sweet music.