Friday, April 26, 2013

Comrade Chinx – Ngorimba (1988)

After fronting the successful band Ilanga, Comrade Chinx went solo for a short time before fading out of Zimbabwe's music scene, as I wrote about when I posted his Early Hits lp a couple of years ago. Ngorimba is powered by dual mbiras, played by Robert and Thomas Ndadziira, as well as a thumping bass line. The title track was a hit, and it is indeed one of the nicest chimurenga songs I have heard. Chinx was motivated by zest for the revolution, and his choral roots and political fervor give every song earnest energy. I think the whole album is great, and I hope it positively powers your weekend.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Zao – Ancien Combattant (1984)

At a time when revved up soukous was the Congolese component of the burgeoning "world music" marketing phenomenon, and when two generations of rumba bands were battling for popular hegemony in the Congo, Casimir "Zao" Zoba released this album that opens with a musical call-to-arms parody. More folkloric than soukous, the anti-war title track "Ancien Combattant" nevertheless became a hit.

Zao's songs addressed social issues with humor, and the music reminds me slightly of Gabon's Akendengue, at least in the sense that it is not formulaic, relying on pop norms. Zao charts his own path, and I am happy to follow it. We'll meet again, down this path, for another installment.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ismael Lô - Xalat (1984)

After leaving Super Diamono, Ismael Lô recorded a series of excellent albums that demonstrate his strength as a songwriter and arranger. They also exhibit both his prowess with mbalax, as well as his wonderful, soulful singing. Xalat is the first of those albums, and the cover photo reveals another unique aspect of Lô's contribution to Senegalese pop, one that augments the soulfulness: his harmonica.

Today's post reflects the breaking of a record-cleaning bottleneck that has limited my digitizing recently. This is a good way to resume.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kasongo Band - Gejo (1990)

Here is another splendid recording of chimurenga from Zimbabwe's golden treasure chest. The Kasongo Band formed in exile in Tanzania during the liberation war, where other East and Central African music styles influenced their music. During an extended guitar break in the last song, for example, a band member invokes the Congolese animation "kwassa kwassa." While the harmonious singing is solid throughout this album, it's the intertwined guitars that propel the music at breakneck speed, making it impossible not to kwassa kwassa.

The band name on the back of the sleeve is Knowledge Kunenyathi and Kassongo Band, highlighting a leader of the band who struck out on his own shortly after this record was cut. I suggest putting it into your library, turning it up loud, and then going to the useful Music of Zimbabwe site for a little more information about the band.