Mittwoch, 23. November 2011

Fela Kuti & The Africa 70 - Gentleman (1973)

"Gentleman" is both an Africa 70 and Afro-beat masterpiece. High marks go to the scathing commentary that Fela Anikulapo Kuti lets loose but also to the instrumentation and the overall arrangements, as they prove to be some of the most interesting and innovative of Fela's '70s material.

When the great tenor saxophone player Igo Chico left the Africa 70 organization in 1973, Fela Kuti declared he would be the replacement. So in addition to bandleader, soothsayer, and organ player, Fela picked up the horn and learned to play it quite quickly - even developing a certain personal voice with it. To show off that fact, "Gentleman" gets rolling with a loose improvisatory solo saxophone performance that Tony Allen eventually pats along with before the entire band drops in with classic Afro-beat magnificence.

"Gentleman" is also a great example of Fela's directed wit at the post-colonial West African sociopolitical state of affairs. His focus is on the Africans that still had a colonial mentality after the Brits were gone and then parallels that life with his own. He wonders why his fellow Africans would wear so much clothing in the African heat: "I know what to wear but my friend don't know" and also points out that "I am not a gentleman like that!/I be Africa man original." To support "Gentleman," the B-side features equally hot jazzy numbers, "Fefe Naa Efe" and "Igbe," making this an absolute must-have release.

Fela Kuti - Gentleman (1973)
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Mittwoch, 16. November 2011

Prinzessinnengärten

Next Friday, November, 18, our friends from the Zero G Sound DJ Collective will spin again some records at the club "west germany" in Berlin-Kreuzberg. This time they will select reggae, rocksteady, ska and dancehall tunes.

Their dj-set will be a part of a nice event with live music and djs celebrating the urban gardening project "Prinzessinnengärten".



Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green) launched Prinzessinnengärten (Princess gardens) as a pilot project in the summer of 2009 at Moritzplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg, a site which had been a wasteland for over half a century. Along with friends, fans, activists and neighbours, the group cleared away rubbish, built transportable organic vegetable plots and reaped the first fruits of their labour.

For a video about the Prinzessinnengarten with english subtitles click here
 

Sonntag, 13. November 2011

Odetta - The Tradition Masters (2CD)

While Odetta is usually lumped in with other revival artists, she actually began performing in the late '40s and had recorded her first album by 1956, a couple of years before the folk boom started.
 
Her stripped-down style and powerful vocals also differed markedly from many revival practitioners, reminding one more of Leadbelly than Joan Baez. This connection is strengthened by the inclusion of pieces like "Midnight Special" and "Take This Hammer" in her repertoire.
 
"The Tradition Masters" reissues "Sings Ballads and Blues" (1956) and "At the Gate of Horn" (1957) in a two-disc set, providing an excellent overview of Odetta's early work. Both sets are fairly straightforward, with her vocals supported by her persistent guitar strum on "Sings Ballads and Blues" and the addition of Bill Lee's bass on "At the Gate of Horn". The most important element, though, is always Odetta's resonant vocals. Whether singing blues, spirituals, or straight folk, she delivers the lyrics with religious fever, as though she inhabited the words. Her approach also invigorates familiar fare like "Greensleeves" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," reminding the listener how good these songs are. It's also illustrative to compare her deep-interpretive approach to a lullaby like "Pretty Horses" with later, "sweetened" versions of the song by groups like Peter, Paul & Mary. "The Tradition Masters" is a good place to immerse oneself in Odetta's authoritative versions of classic folk material.

Odetta - The Tradition Masters (2 CDs)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 12. November 2011

Etoile de Dakar - Same (International Music, 1980)

Etoile De Dakar was one of the most influential bands to come out of Senegal. Best known for its work with vocalist Yassour N'Dour, a member from 1975 to 1978, the group created a Latin-tinged style of African pop that influenced such western artists as Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon and David Byrne.

The roots of the Etoile De Dakar were planted in 1960 when Ibra Kasse, owner of the Miami Club in Dakar, assembled members of two bands -- Guinea Band De Dakar and Star Band De Senui - and created a supergroup, known initially as The Star Band. Although it reached its apex with the arrival of N'Dour in 1975, The Star Band splintered three years later when several members left with N'Dour to form Etoile De Dakar. Relocating to Paris in 1983, the group changed its name to Super Etoile.
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Etoile de Dakar - Same (International Music, 1980)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 6. November 2011

Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky!

Next Friday, November, 11, our friends from the Zero G Sound DJ Collective will spin some groovy and funky records at a nice little bar in Berlin-Kreuzberg, called Tante Horst. Check out their fine mix of soul, funk, jazz, rhythm´n´blues and have fun!

Donnerstag, 3. November 2011

Fela Ransome Kuti & The Africa `70 - Open & Close (1971)

Another long-thought-lost gem from the Fela Anikulapo Kuti archives, "Open & Close" was originally released in 1971 and, in the manner of "He Miss Road" and "Fela's London Scene", is a total groove-fest loaded to the gills with raucous horn blowing, ferocious percussion (once again, Tony Allen take a bow), and song lengths over ten minutes.

By this point, Fela could do no wrong when it came to recording; Afro-beat dissenters will claim that there is a trance-inducing similarity to much of Fela's '70s recorded output, that the grooves aren't enough to make the songs distinctive enough on their own. That's true of some of his later recordings (like in the mid- to late '80s), but at this point he was still breathing fire and the band was in top form.

Perhaps the distinguishing factors of records like "Open & Close" and some of Fela's other '70s releases are that as much as he liked to ride a groove, he also liked to disrupt it, twist it and turn it, reshape it, only to bring it back to its original shape. There was less of that later in his career.

(320 kbps, complete cover art included)