Africa/Middle East: Reviews
Wednesday 8 June 2011SMOD - SMOD
What with the “Produced By Manu Chao” sticker on the cover and the Metro’s ‘Album of the Week’, what more do you want from SMOD’s third album?
Monday 16 May 2011Staff Benda Bilili and Fatoumata Diawara - Roundhouse (Live Review)
The huge domed chamber of London’s Roundhouse rocked to the Soukadelic sounds of Staff Benda Bilili and melted at the charms of Fatoumata Diawara
Thursday 5 May 2011Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Cotonou Club
If you’re going to see Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Contonou at the Scala tonight, I’m well jealous but then, it’s time to review their latest album Contonou Club so I’m very happy.
Friday 22 April 2011African Soul Rebels 2011 - Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 / Donso
It might have been the last night of the tour but as the Afrobeat message beats loud again, this was one not to be missed, as Gilles Peterson said earlier this year, “If you ever get the chance to see Seun Kuti live, you’ve got to go!”
Monday 18 April 2011Ebo Taylor - Life Stories: Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980
Hot on the heals of the Love And Death, Strut have sensibly dug deep into the back catalogue for a fantastic double CD compilation which is a must have ‘Best Of’ his Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980
Wednesday 30 March 2011Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 - From Africa With Fury: Rise
After Gilles Peterson’s Interview with Seun Kuti on his Worldwide Show this morning, you’d be right to be excited by the fact that his new album is coming out next week as it’s time to rise up!
Saturday 27 November 2010Donso - Donso
Early on this year Gilles Peterson was proclaiming Donso as one of the albums of the year, so why has it taken us so long to take it to our hearts and agree with the Brownswood supremeo?
Saturday 6 November 2010Ebo Taylor - Love And Death
The album of the week without a doubt is Ebo Taylor’s Love And Death which isn’t bad for the guitarist, composer, arranger and producer from born in 1936 - be prepared to see it in all good ‘Best of 2010’ lists very soon!
Thursday 21 October 2010Femi Kuti - Africa for Africa
After more twists and turns in his recent record label adventures than the sale of Liverpool FC, it’s great to get a new album from Femi Kuti
Friday 8 October 2010Carmen Souza - Protegid
Belying its tiny size and inhospitable landscape, the Atlantic Ocean’s Cape Verde Islands packs a punch in the music world, consistently producing artists of outstanding talent.
Wednesday 29 September 2010Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics - Barbican (Live Review)
The best night’s jazz in many a year at the Barbican
Sunday 26 September 2010Nsimba Foggis & Taxi Pata Pata - The Tabernacle (Live Review)
A night of contrasts, propelled by the power of soukous
Friday 17 September 2010Cheikh Lô - Jamm
For ten years now Cheikh Lô’s music has been one of the delights of West Africa, even if his last two albums have not hit the heights of his 1990’s debut, Ne La Thiass. Jamm represents a return to form for the Senegalese songster.
Monday 30 August 2010Lee Ritenour - Lee Ritenour's 6 String Theory
Any guitarist will tell you the theory is OK but it’s all down to practice so celebrated jazz guitarist Ritenour (aka Captain Fingers) gets to pick 20 (twenty!) world class guitarist mates to join him as they get to grips with Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory.
Monday 23 August 2010Richy Pitch - Ye Fre Mi Richy Pitch
With album launch at Big Chill House on 28th August with M3NSA (named as one of BBC’s Top 50 Ghanaians!), it’s about time Ye Fre Mi Richy Pitch.
Tuesday 10 August 2010Lobi Traore - Rainy Season Blues
Begin at the end, so they say, and the end for Lobi came suddenly and out of the blue. He died in June at 49. Like Habib Koite is, Lobi was a people’s musician. Friendly and down to earth, Lobi was well known to hustlers and music fans alike in clubs like the Djembe in Bamako. A short time before his death, he grabbed half an opportunity to record an album and here it is
Tuesday 27 July 2010V/A - The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia In 1970s Nigeria
Why The World Ends?…The latest title from Soundway Records features 32 electrifying and funk laden grooves from the sound of a generation attempting to pick up the pieces after the devastation of the Nigerian civil war.
Saturday 26 June 2010V/A - Sound of the World Presents: Anywhere On This Road
“The late, great Charlie Gillett had a passion for music”, Mark Coles, BBC World Service, June 2010.
Monday 21 June 2010V/A - Next Stop... Soweto 3: Giants, Ministers & Makers: Jazz In South Africa 1963-1984
We love both previous editions of Next Stop…Soweto as both are totally brilliant and so different whilst the third in the series is just as good, if not the best of the lot!
Thursday 3 June 2010Toumani Diabaté - The Ali Farka Variations at Barbican Hall
In the Barbican Hall last night, in an emotional but rousing evening’s music, one Malian superstar celebrated the memory of another.
Sunday 23 May 2010V/A - Football & Funk
After a couple of years of releasing super funky 7s, Skyline Recordings team up with the Delicious Digital production boys for their first and ever so timely compilation album called Football & Funk - get in there my son!
Wednesday 19 May 2010Next Stop...Soweto Vol.2, Funk & Organ Grooves From The Townships 1969-76
Next Stop… Soweto 2, sub-titled “Soul, Funk & Organ Grooves From The Townships 1969-1976” is the second of a three part series by Strut’s finest in the underground sound of South Africa in the 60s and 70s.
Thursday 1 April 2010Salif Keita - La Différence
With a short tour the month, time to get to grips with La Différence of the mighty Salif Keita who never disappoints his legion of fans.
Friday 26 March 2010Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead
The acclaimed father of Ethio-jazz who has fans as varied as Damian Alban, K’Naan, Nas and Damian Marley releases his first solo album in over 20 years and it’s a belter.
Monday 22 March 2010V/A - Les Chats Persans (OST)
En anglais this translates as No One Knows About Persian Cats and the film by Bahman Ghobadi won a special jury prize at Cannes Film Festival last year and this is the equally good soundtrack with the film on release later this week.
Saturday 13 March 2010V/A - Nigeria Special: Volume 2 - The Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Nigerian Blues of 1970-6
Its back! The Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Nigerian Blues of 1970-6 that is Nigeria Special; if you really love me, take me to your house and do me how you like (as Fubura Sekibo might say).
Wednesday 3 March 2010V/A - Afro Rock Volume One
“Hey!, that’s not a new album!” I hear you shout but this album has been effectively “out of print” since 2002 and it is certainly great to have it back.
Sunday 28 February 2010Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars - Rise & Shine
African music has more than its fair share of triumph-against-adversary stories. While the best-known and astonishing of these of recent years must be the disabled Congolese street band, Staff Benda Bilili, another ensemble to make inspirational music out of staggeringly bleak circumstances, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, deserves equal attention.
Friday 19 February 2010V/A - Next Stop... Soweto
Next Stop… Soweto, sub-titled “Township sounds from the golden age of Mbaqangwa” is the first of a three part series by Strut’s finest in the underground sound of South Africa in the 60s and 70s.
Wednesday 30 December 2009Mayra Andrade - Stória Stória
An overnight star was born when Mayra Andrade’s debut album, Navega, was released in 2006.
Saturday 21 November 2009Miriam Makeba - Mama Afrika (1932-2008)
South African vocalist Miriam Mekeba was known as “Mama Afrika” and this beautiful double CD of her best work is a fitting celebration of life in music.
Wednesday 18 November 2009V/A - Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blues 1968-81
If this Ghana Special was a train, you would not want to get off as this is the highlife of Ghana in the 70s (plus a little bit either side) that is proper Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blues!
Friday 6 November 2009Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou - Echos Hypnotiques
Due to innumerable reasons, some great artists and bands fail to achieve the posterity of their peers, and so it was with Benin’s Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou whose name should be as recognisable to African music fans as Orchestra Baobab and the Bamako Rail Band.
Tuesday 3 November 2009Mulatu Astatke - New York - Addis - London : The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965 - 1975
To take liberties with a well known tune, you could say “New York, Addis, London, Munich everyone’s talkin’ about Ethio-jazz music”.
Monday 2 November 2009Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen - Inspiration Information Vol. 4
The latest edition in the Inspiration Information series finds the original beat of Afro-beat Tony Allen paired with the cosmic saxophonist from Finland, Jimi Tenor.
Monday 2 November 2009Thandiswa Mazwai - Ibokwe
Next year will be dominated by all things South African but I can’t wait and as “Best Female Vocalist” Thandiswa Mazwai is releasing her latest album, let’s kick off now.
Sunday 4 October 2009Mdungu - Afro What?
One of the year’s undisputed highlights so far. A joy from beginning to end. Diverse, funky, challenging and fresh
Monday 31 August 2009Kimi Djabaté - Karam
With so many West African traditional-modern ensembles making a name on the world music scene, is there more room for many more? The Cumbancha label obviously thinks so as the first release of its new ‘Discovery’ series is by young singer and balafón player Kimi Djabaté. Listening to Karam, it seems like a great catch
Sunday 16 August 2009Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba - I Speak Fula
I Speak Fula strips away some of the ponderousness that flawed the otherwise delightful debut album from this most explosive live band and reveals far more of Bassekou as a result
Sunday 26 July 2009V/A - Legends of Benin
Continuing Analog Africa’s fascinating series of funk from ’70s Benin, crate-digging compiler Ben Redjeb focuses on four of the celebrated bandleaders from the era.
Sunday 28 June 2009V/A - Comfusões 1 - From Angola To Brasil
Brasil owes a large debt to African music and numerous artists have explored the connections between the two countries, Cheik Lo’s great Lamp Fall album being just one example. Now Mauricio Pacheco has taken Angolan music from a time gone by and given it a spruce up for 2009 and the results sound great
Sunday 28 June 2009Amadou et Mariam feat. M - Masitéladi
Another hot single from our favourite husband and wife pairing from Mali, the unbeatable Amadou & Mariam with a couple of killer remixes.
Thursday 25 June 2009V/A - Sound of the World Presents: Otro Mundo (Another World)
Charlie GIllett scoops up yet again the tracks you loved but never got round to owning and those that would otherwise have entirely slipped past you unnoticed like so many logs floating down the Niger in the middle of the night
Thursday 18 June 2009Invisible System - PUNT Made in Ethiopia
Any album that assembles an array of contributors as wide as Mahmoud Ahmed and Bahta Gebre Hiwot of Ethiopiques fame, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara, and European musicians like beats-smith Dubulah (a.k.a Nick Page) is likely to struggle to find a cohesive voice. Not so for PUNT Made in Ethiopia, the first release on Harper Diabate.
Monday 1 June 2009Rodriguez - Coming From Reality
After the success of Light In The Attic’s first official reissue of Cold Fact, an album co-produced by Motown’s Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore and featuring members of legendary Motown players The Funk Brothers, they’ve dipped back into the Rodriquez back catalogue for another ‘lost’ gem, Coming From Reality.
Monday 1 June 2009Khaled - Liberté
The statement, “if you have to buy one Khaled album, make it 1984’s Hada Raykoum” is surely incontestable. It may well be that the same can now be said for the next best thing to that North African classic
Saturday 23 May 2009Kutiman & You Tube - Thru You
Kutiman is a funk enthralled multi-instrumentalist from Tel Aviv. With a great debut under his belt in 2007 his latest project is an audio/visual musical experiment that goes to show that modern technology is providing a brave new world of creative and collaborative possibility
Monday 18 May 2009Staff Benda Bilili - Tres Tres Fort
Forget the Buena Vista Social Club. If you want a heart warming tale of musical success despite extreme adversity then buy this CD and listen to the sound of these paraplegic street musicians from Kinshasa, Congo and their rhythm and blues, funk inflected rumba
Thursday 30 April 2009El Tanbura - Friends of Bamboute
Three years ago, El Tanbura impressed with their first international release of infectious traditional Egyptian dance music - Between the Desert and the Sea - and this 20th anniversary follow-up is every bit as seductive.
Tuesday 7 April 2009Ayo - Gravity at Last
Ayọ is the real thing. A big, big voice hints at something that someone so young should not really know
Tuesday 7 April 2009Baka Beyond - Beyond the Forest
For the past seventeen years Su Hart and Martin Cradick have been quietly and assiduously building a collection of recordings based around the Baka tribes of the Cameroonian rainforest.
Tuesday 7 April 2009V/A - Putumayo Presents African Reggae
This album of spiritually-uplifting African reggae is a fitting way to mark Bob Marley’s 64th birthday.
Tuesday 7 April 2009Oumou Sangaré - Seya
Oumou’s bravura return finds the Songbird of Mali as imperious to behold as ever as she stands proudly above all competition.
Monday 30 March 2009Gangbé Brass Band - Assiko
Benin’s brass band blow up another storm with their latest tight and funky album
Monday 16 March 2009African Soul Rebels - The Anvil, Basingstoke (Live Review)
Spring has sprung and so once again a young (oh alright then, middle-aged) world music fan’s fancy turns to the theoretically incongruous but in practice pretty successful agglomeration of disparate artists that make up the African Soul Rebels concept.
Saturday 14 March 2009Buraka Som Sistema - Sound Of Kuduro
Fans of mix CD’s from Fabric will recognise Buraka Som Sistema as they keep cropping up on the remix credits but it’s a unusual step for them to release a 12”, but then again, the ‘Sound Of Kuduro’ is a bit special.
Saturday 31 January 2009Cesaria Evora - Radio Mindelo: Early Recordings
This well-presented record of the Barefoot Diva’s earliest recordings offers a fascinating taste of the early development of Cape Verde’s most celebrated singer.
Sunday 23 November 2008Oumou Sangare - Seya (single)
A gorgeous foretaste of an exciting new release by one of Mali’s great singers
Friday 14 November 2008Freshly Ground - Ma'cheri
How this slice of pure, good vibes ever slipped through our net, I do not know but the only rainbow band from the rainbow nation of South Africa set their sites on global domination with a slick, punchy and soulful album
Tuesday 11 November 2008Youssou N'Dour - Rokku Mi Rokka (Give And Take)
When you’re an international superstar, I suppose there’s got to be a little give and take here and there to keep everyone happy; but has N’Dour got it right with his new album?
Saturday 8 November 2008O Herói (The Hero) - Directed by Zeze Gambo
Directed by Zeze Gamboa, this tale of emotional prosperity out of physical and social hard-ship is an impressive sample of what I hope is to come from Angolan cinema.
Friday 7 November 2008Amadou & Mariam - Welcome to Mali
The world’s least likely superstars are back with an album that takes the winning formula of Dimanche a Bamako to the next level. More guests, more meddling with their sound, more English and well why not, a bit of Damon Albarn
Friday 7 November 2008V/A - 1970's Algerian Proto-Rai Underground
There are few musicians around more polished than Khaled but if you have ever wanted to peel away the sophistication and the years to reveal the raw, young heart of north African rock and roll, this is your moment
Sunday 2 November 2008Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou - Volume One The Vodoun Effect 1973-1975
More extraordinary, and previously inexplicably unknown, vintage West African funk unearthed by the diligent Afo-enthusiasts at Analog Africa
Sunday 26 October 2008V/A - Highlife Time
A primer of some of the greatest of ’60s and ’70s highlife — the electrifying dance sound of Nigeria and Ghana — in a high quality, very personal selection by long time collector, compiler and DJ John Armstrong
Wednesday 22 October 2008Seun Kuti + Fela's Egypt 80 - Many Things
Not that it’s a battle with brother Femi, but both Fela offspring have albums out that moment and Seun is just tipping it as the one to get.
Wednesday 15 October 2008Dub Colossus - A Town Called Addis
Now here’s an EP that got us excited as it’s a collaboration between contemporary Ethiopian artists and Nick Page (aka Dublah) on a 70s reggae meets Ethio-pop; and it’s brilliant!
Thursday 9 October 2008Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman
A small ray of Zimbabwean musical sunshine peeps out from the country ravaged by political and economic turmoil.
Wednesday 1 October 2008Fela-Ransome Kuti - Lagos Baby (1963-1969)
Now the golden rule is that Fela Ransome Kuti is untouchable as the “first and brightest” African super star, but what was he like before 1970? Lagos Baby is the answer.
Wednesday 1 October 2008Tony Allen - Lagos No Shaking
Whilst it’s not easy to keep up with the prolific Mr. Allen, there’s a couple of record shops in the heart of Soho that are still displaying this one even though it’s been a couple of years since it came out; and I know why!
Sunday 28 September 2008Lightning Head - 13 Faces Of Lightning Head
Well I know some two faced so and sos but Lightning Head (aka Glyn “Bigga” Bush) takes the biscuit with 13 magnificent faces on the follow-up to the classic Studio Don.
Monday 28 July 2008Natacha Atlas and The Mazeeka Ensemble - Ana Hina
A gorgeous album laid out on a sumptuously arranged base of small-ensemble strings. Could this be Natacha’s best album yet?
Sunday 20 July 2008Lawson Rollins - Infinita
If ever there was a record that truly deserved the ‘world beat’ label then this is it. Latin America and the Middle East collide on this Spanish guitar driven jazz medley
Sunday 22 June 2008V/A - Desert Blues 3
Network records have kept up the profoundly high level of quality control exhibited on the first two instalments of this exquisite series
Thursday 29 May 2008Carmen Souza - Verdade
For her second album, Cape Verdean singer-songwriter Carmen Souza takes a jazz-tinged step away from her roots, although one foot remains firmly in the melancholy essence of her native islands
Friday 16 May 2008Hijaz - Dunes
Clear, punchy jazz with heavy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours makes for a deeply rewarding album
Sunday 11 May 2008Emmanuel Jal - Warchild
“I believe I’ve survived for a reason to tell my story, to touch lives”. So says Emmanuel Jal on the title track to Warchild and he will
Friday 25 April 2008V/A - Nigeria Rock Special
The most recent in what seems like a bottomless well of great music of all styles from Nigeria is coming your way soon from crate diggers extraordinaire Soundway Records. Prepare yourself for Psychedelic Afro-rock and fuzz funk in 1970s Nigeria
Friday 25 April 2008V/A - Black Stars: Ghana's Hiplife Generation
As the many comments on a piece on fly some time back about hiplife testify, this is a genre that inspires passion and pride as well as bigtime dancing. Outhere Records bring the undergound scene and the big stars to the world’s attention with this compilation
Saturday 16 February 2008Titina - Cruel Destino
Comparisons with Cape Verde’s Queen of morna, Cesaria Evora, are inevitable and hard to avoid. But if there’s one thing better than having one evocative interpreter of the islands’ soulful folk music, and that’s being blessed with two of them
Sunday 10 February 2008V/A - Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Nigerian Blues, 1970-1976
As everyone is talking about Africa these days, especially during the African Cup of Nations, what an excellent time to release this 2 CD retrospective with the longest title ever
Wednesday 6 February 2008Orlando Julius - Super Afro Soul
Brittle sounds tumble around each other restlessly in this sparky set of soulful cuts from the Nigerian pioneer’s early career in which everything clatters
Wednesday 6 February 2008Ammasu Akapoma Group - The Music of Ammasu (Brong-Ahafu, Ghana 1976)
Dynamic and directly affecting Ghanaian music born of troubled times which shines intrinsically on merit, performance and honesty
Monday 4 February 2008Yasmin Levy - Mano Suave
The third album from the Israeli singer whose aim is to keep the Spanish-Jewish Ladino tradition alive, is another small step closer to the classic album we are waiting for
Thursday 31 January 2008Mahmoud Fadl - For Oriental Dancers
Ostensibly conceived to take advantage of the latest vogue for ‘bellydance’ music, this snappy set of Arabic instrumentals is a rhythmic delight from start to finish.
Tuesday 29 January 2008Wendo Kolosoy - On the Rumba River
After more than 60 years of making music, octogenarian Congolese singer and guitarist Antoine “Wendo” Kolosoy is still going strong, and this half-retrospective/half-soundtrack is a welcome primer on his remarkable career
Tuesday 8 January 2008Simphiwe Dana - The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street
Stunning South African singer Simphiwe Dana returns to the UK next month for a show at Queen Elizabeth Hall, here her second album on Gallo gets a once over
Saturday 5 January 2008Bugge Wesseltoft - IM
This new album IM is dedicated to tragic events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and of one particular victim, Zawadi Mongane who Bugge heard interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last year
Thursday 3 January 2008Yam Yam - Eatdubafrobeat
To say we’re fans of Eatdubafrobeat is an understatement as we’ve been playing this one endlessly since its arrival and it must be an early shout for album of the year?
Wednesday 26 December 2007Fela Kuti - Anthology 1
Pulling off a Fela compilation is no easy thing. For a start, most of his classic songs from the seventies are an unhelpful 10 minutes plus in length. But if anyone is going to be able to do it, it should be Wrasse Records
Monday 19 November 2007Vusi Mahlasela - Guiding Star (Naledi Ya Tsela)
A gem of a record packed full of South African charm guaranteed to satisfy with its delivery, invigorating grooves and thoughtful lyrics
Monday 19 November 2007Abdel Hadi Halo & the El Gusto Orchestra of Algiers
Remarkable sounds from rejuvenated Algerian big-band of chaabi veterans fusing Jewish and Arabic music with jazz, tango and a little French chanson to inspire and uplift
Sunday 18 November 2007Steve Reid Ensemble - Daxaar
Fela managed it and Mulatu too, now Steve Reid unites jazz with Africa.
Friday 2 November 2007Youssou N'dour - Rokku Mi Rokka
Africa’s greatest superstar and elder statesman of global sounds wears his crossover obligations lightly in a back to basics, stripped down pop album
Friday 2 November 2007Mayra Andrade - Navega
Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade has just been named as a nominee for Best Newcomer in the 2008 Awards For World Music, and her classy album Navega has a musical depth and consistency to more than warrant that honour
Sunday 28 October 2007Bedouin Jerry Can Band - Coffee Time
Yes they are Bedouins, and yes they really do use jerry-cans as a percussive instrument, alongside clay jugs, coffee grinders, ammunition boxes and anything else that will add rhythmic value to their addictive North African dance music
Friday 19 October 2007Orchestra Baobab - Made in Dakar
The British Ambassador to Mali and Senegal abandons tales of desert bandits to wander over to the dancefloor, there he will dance amid a throng of impossibly elegant Senegalese women of all ages, a few dapper older gents and some Western music fans aware that in the warm night air of the Just4U club in Dakar in February, finding the distinguished members of Orchestra Baobab playing this hot is akin to wandering into a pub in Camden only to find the Kinks are playing their best known numbers but better than ever
Thursday 11 October 2007Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara - Soul Science
As Jeff Bridges might once have said: Rock ‘n’ Riti - phew! Put Justin Adams’s Bo Diddley-meets-buzzsaw blues guitar with Juldeh Camara’s hyperactive single-string violin playing and you’ve got one of the most exhilarating boundary crossing releases of the year
Thursday 4 October 2007Akim El Sikameya - Un Chouia D'amour
The cover of the album doesn’t augur too well — Akim looks like a young Bill Murray who’s just got lucky in a tart’s boudoir. So it’s a relief to hear his extraordinary voice and violin playing gratifyingly wrapped in some sweet and catchy tunes
Thursday 4 October 2007Hallelujah Chicken Run Band - Take One (1974-79)
In what has been an astonishing year for African compilations, this collection of mid-’70s singles from Zimbabwe’s ground-breaking electric mbira group must rank as one of the most vital
Sunday 9 September 2007Joachim Kuhn, Majid Nekkas with Ramon Lopez - Kalimba
European Jazz with a North African twist. Take one East German, a Morrocan and a Spaniard…
Monday 27 August 2007V/A - The Very Best of Ethiopiques
There’s a real buzz about this collection of classic Ethiopian tracks from the early ’70s — Elvis Costello has even been persuaded to supply the puff for the front cover — and the fuss is fully justified for what must surely be a contender for compilation of the year
Sunday 19 August 2007V/A - Sound of the World 2007 (Charlie Gillett)
Charlie Gillett mixes the well-known with underground discoveries, crosses continents, sifts thousands of songs, balances the sexes and blends contemporary and traditional on this year’s crop
Thursday 12 July 2007Baka Beyond - Baka Live
Su Hart and Martin Cradick’s lively Celtic-meets-African band’s engaging sound is best experienced in concert, and this enjoyable live album captures the spirit of the Baka collective at its finest
Thursday 5 July 2007Massukos - Bumping
Massukos is more than a band — it’s a living breathing force for good in Mozambique, and Bumping is a jubilant, uplifting musical torch bearer for one of the poorest parts of Africa
Thursday 28 June 2007Prince Diabate - Djerelon
A fine album of West African acoustica from the American-based kora maestro
Thursday 21 June 2007The Manhattan Brothers - The Very Best of the Manhattan Brothers
Embracing the sound of New York’s blooming jazz barbershop quartet scene during the 1940s and 1950s, this album by the South African foursome takes the jazz sound to the home land
Wednesday 20 June 2007Dee Dee Bridgewater - Red Earth
Dee Dee has just released a wonderful album recorded in her spiritual homeland of Mali. Of course she was physically born in Memphis, TN but she explains on the DVD that as soon as she saw the bright Malian red earth, she felt that she had arrived home
Tuesday 29 May 2007Lucky Dube - Respect
Lucky Dube is the great reggae man from the African continent — surpassing Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly. With his epic sound, Dube has been at the forefront of the musical genre for over 20 years, releasing almost as many albums during this career
Sunday 20 May 2007Hugh Masekela - Barbican (Live Review)
The ageing lion of South African jazz flugelhorn showed he still has all his own teeth as he scatted, sang, danced, joked, chided, mimed, agitated, funked, impersonated and swung through the night
Sunday 20 May 2007Wunmi - A.L.A. (Africans Living Abroad)
Now those with good memories will recall Gilles Peterson interviewed her at the back end of last year on his show. Why the album has taken all this time to surface, I can’t tell you but it’s definitely worth the wait
Thursday 10 May 2007Green Arrows - 4 Track Recording Session
Analog Africa has reached back into the 1970s and made us an offering of recordings from Zimbabwe’s Green Arrows. Perhaps they’re not well known outside of the region or thirty years later but they were the ones creating the quintessential Zimbabwean sound you hear today from the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo. The Green Arrows were THE group in 70s Rhodesia.
Sunday 22 April 2007Seeed - Next!
After the success of ‘Slowlife’, assisted by MTV’s unfathomable restriction on playing the video, we’ve been looking forward to the release of this album with the help of a few big name friends
Monday 9 April 2007Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu - Joystone
Scandinavian jazz and funk harmonises with African percussion, bringing a marvellous fusion of assorted vintage and contemporary elements.
Saturday 7 April 2007Mamani Keita - Yelema
Funky, addictive utterly Malian and with a kick like snorting home-made chilli sauce. This is the CD you are going to get sick of copying for your mates this summer
Friday 6 April 2007Rachid Taha and Vieux Farka Touré - Barbican, London (Live Review)
Rachid Taha stormed the Barbican and got this venue’s sometimes stiff crowd on its feet by his second song and didn’t look back after that
Saturday 24 March 2007Tinariwen - Barbican, London (Live Review)
Although Tinariwen have played the UK lots of times, it has usually been part of a mixed bill and so here was a rare chance to see a long set from the Tamashek sensations. With pretty much the entire UK press behind them (and not just the ‘world music’ crowd), there was a pretty heavy level of anticipation…
Friday 23 March 2007Papa Noel - Café Noir
If like me you always thought the rumba was a strictly Cuban affair then Cafe Noir will show you otherwise
Wednesday 14 March 2007Zim Ngqawana - Vadzimu
Zim mixes up South African folk traditions with classical western music and avant-garde jazz with varying amounts of horns, strings and djembe.
Saturday 10 March 2007Nneka - 'God Of Mercy'
Nneka returns with the release of second single, a new mix of one of the top tracks on her début album.
Tuesday 6 March 2007Thomas Mapfumo - Choice Chimurenga
This compilation of some of Mapfumo’s best tracks was originally released in 2003 but is available in the UK for the first time this year.
Friday 2 March 2007Rachid Taha - The Definitive Collection
Things could have been so different for Rachid Taha. Too ‘Algerian’ for French rock and too punk for rai: it’s a testament to his bloody-mindedness, stamina and unique ability to craft a top tune that we not only know his name but celebrate him as one of the best musicians associated with Algeria
Saturday 24 February 2007Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba - Segu Blue
Bassekou Kouyaté is better known as the ngoni player on seminal recordings by Toumani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré. Segu Blue is his assured, elegant and long overdue debut
Saturday 24 February 2007Tinariwen - Aman Iman : Water is Life
With all the hype surrounding Tinariwen’s third international release, long-time fans could be forgiven for expecting to hear the lost desert album of Radiohead. Thank God it’s still the boys in blue’s trademark sound instead
Friday 23 February 2007Sauti za Busara 2007 - Stone Town, Zanzibar
One of the first words you will hear when coming to Zanzibar is ‘Karibu’. Like the breeze of the Kaskazi trade winds, it is a warm Swahili welcome to the coast of East Africa. Already I can feel a sense of excitement in the air: the Sauti za Busara “Sounds of Wisdom” festival is about to begin
Friday 16 February 2007Festival sur le Niger - Dancing through the Tears
A few years ago a group of hoteliers got together in the pleasant but unremarkable stopover of Segou along the banks of the Niger river to work out how to get people to stay for a while in their town. Thus the Festival sur le Niger was born and this year it burst its banks
Wednesday 31 January 2007The Festival in the Desert 2007 - Essakane, Mali
Quite possibly the most difficult festival to get to on earth, certainly the most fun, The Festival in the Desert is held at Essakane every January. Head for Timbuktu and when you have reached the middle of nowhere, keep going for a few more hours of treacherous driving up and down sand dunes and you have the festival that makes Glastonbury seem about as adventurous as a trip to the local garden centre
Tuesday 23 January 2007V/A - Urban Africa Club
What a daunting challenge, trying to cover the best of the new generation of young artists from the hip-hop, kwaito and dancehall scenes across a continent as large and diverse as Africa.
Monday 22 January 2007Daniel Bouliane - Tagayet
Ambient, techno, African roots and folk with elements of progressive rock from an artist better known for writing scores for film.
Sunday 21 January 2007Chico Mann - Manifest Tone Vol.1
Manifest Tone Vol.1 generates images and feelings that originated in Lagos during the 70s but which have been splendidly re-produced in 21st Century New Jersey.
Wednesday 10 January 2007Niwel Tsumbu Duo - Uh! eza nzela molayi
Niwel Tsumbu Duo have so many roots it’s difficult to know where to start - funk, jazz, central african guitars, Irish percussion, and packed with energy and soul it immediately stands out.
Saturday 6 January 2007Amadou & Mariam, London, 11 December 2006 (Live Review)
An enthralling feast of West African music filled the newly developed Roundhouse, with traditional and contemporary styles intertwining from both established and emerging artists.
Wednesday 13 December 2006Ismael Lo - Senegal
After a five-year absence, the “Bob Dylan of Africa” returns with a smooth and accessible new album that takes him firmly into mainstream territory
Saturday 9 December 2006V/A - Roots of Rumba Rock. Congo Classics 1953-1955
If you’re interested in the musical development of the popular music of this vast, troubled, yet joyously vibrant country during the golden years of the early pre- and post-independence era from the mid ’50s to the mid ’80s, you’ve been more than well-served these last eighteen months or so
Saturday 2 December 2006The Rough Guide to World Music: Africa & Middle East - Volume 1 of 3 (Book review)
Iconic, essential, quite possibly still a ‘work of lunatic scholarship’, The Rough Guide to World Music is back but what kind of shape is it in all these years later?
Friday 24 November 2006Tartit - Abacabok
Although they will no doubt be compared to Tinariwen — Tartit have been around a similar length of time and sprang from the same experience of civil war and living in camps — theirs is a gentler but no less compelling sound
Sunday 19 November 2006The Idan Raichel Project - The Idan Raichel Project
The Idan Raichel Project are currently taking their native Israel by storm, and this very sophisticated mix of Middle Eastern and Western styles is destined to repeat the success elsewhere
Friday 17 November 2006Toumast - Ishumar
2007 is shaping up to be the year of the Touareg takeover. Fortunately the appetite for the heavy, bluesy, desert rock made famous by Tinariwen is matched by the supply of fine bands.
Sunday 5 November 2006DAM - Dedication
The top Palestinian hip hop trio are preparing to take the rest of the world by storm with a convincing set of political and social raps. The band are going to dedicate three copies of the album to our competition winners, so read on…
Saturday 28 October 2006Sally Nyolo and the Original Bands of Yaounde - Studio Cameroon
Paris-based Cameroonian chanteuse returns to her native land to create her own unique rough guide to the country’s roots music.
Friday 20 October 2006Rachid Taha - Diwan 2
Diwân 2 sees Rachid Taha reclaiming the older tunes of his childhood —but not without occasional touches of his angry punk persona surfacing just in time to avoid nostalgia
Friday 20 October 2006Nibs van der Spuy - Beautiful Feet
The singer songwriter boom continues in the UK but here at Fly, we like to look a little further a field sometimes. Nibs van der Spuy gently weaves his native Southern Africa into his guitar-led sound to create an album of disarming beauty
Friday 13 October 2006Los Desterrados - Tu
Los Desterrados, from not-so-exotic north London, have produced an album of underground Judeo-Spanish re-imaginings, slipping skilfully between epochs and musical traditions
Sunday 8 October 2006El Tanbura - Between the Desert and the Sea
Anyone who has seen El Tanbura in action will know that this is an amazing bunch of passionate musicians to hear. Can an album match up?
Thursday 5 October 2006V/A - Rough Guide To Planet Rock
Continuing the global trip, Rough Guides get in touch with Planet Rock
Wednesday 20 September 2006V/A - World Circuit Presents
To celebrate 20 years of recording, World Circuit will be releasing a superb double CD collection on the 16th October
Friday 8 September 2006V/A - World 2006
In a world awash with free cover-mount compilations and triple CDs for a tenner, why on earth would you buy Charlie Gillett’s latest round up? Perhaps because you really do get what you pay for…
Saturday 19 August 2006V/A - Live 8 at Eden: Africa Calling
Live 8 seems a long time ago doesn’t it? Remember Bob’s line up in London’s Hyde Park, Berlin, Paris, Philadelphia and Rome? And the question: “Where are the black and African artists?”
Saturday 19 August 2006The Seckou Keita Quartet - Afro-Mandinka Soul
This album has a new take on a very ancient tradition. The kora and the griot culture presides over this musical meeting in the masterful hands of Seckou Keita from Senegal, but it’s teased and challenged by other instruments and musical traditions, represented by the Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai, Italian double bassist Davide Mantovani and Gambian percussionist Surahata Susso.
Friday 18 August 2006Nneka - Victim of Truth
Beautiful, smart and soulful as southern cornbread, Nneka could be the new Lauren Hill. Everything is right about this stunning debut: a great new voice, conscious lyrics and more hooks than a fishing tackle shop in the Hook of Holland
Saturday 5 August 2006Orchestre Baka Gbine - Gati Bongo
If you were lucky enough to catch these guys on tour with Baka Beyond, you will know that this is unrelentingly upbeat music bursting with sunshine, like powerful rays piercing the canopy of their native rainforest
Saturday 5 August 2006Gigi - Gold & Wax
After five long years, Gigi’s follow up to her eponymous debut takes that winning formula and beefs it up still further under the eye of uber-producer Bill Laswell
Tuesday 25 July 2006V/A - The Rough Guide To West African Gold
Continuing the excellent series of compilations, this one covers some great tunes from Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
Tuesday 25 July 2006Nneka - 'The Uncomfortable Truth'
The uncomfortable truth is that the latest single from Nneka has a dodgy cover [not the picture with this piece], but don’t let that put you off.
Saturday 15 July 2006Arabanda - Shams
A modern roots and jazz approach to traditional music produces a captivating début album
Tuesday 4 July 2006Wageble - Senegal
Wagëblë have been around for nearly 10 years but haven’t yet made waves on the international scene with their “Rap Afro”. It’s strange, seeing as they’re so popular in Senegal, which has been the centre of African hip hop for many years, and they’ve performed in northern Europe and shared the spotlight with Daara J from Senegal and Tanzania’s Xplastaz.
Saturday 1 July 2006Andrew Dosunmu & Knox Robinson - The African Game (Book)
As African nations bow out of the World Cup, having inspired and delighted millions with their tenacity and skill, The African Game sets out to document the road to the World Cup and what African football means in Africa
Friday 30 June 2006Gabriela Mendes - Tradicao
There is no end to the treasures on that distant clutch of islands Cap Vert (Cape Verde) and Gabriela Mendes is the latest in a long line of traditional singers willing to share those riches far and wide. Traditional mornas, sweetly sung and gently accompanied by nimbly picked guitars are at the heart of these ten songs
Wednesday 28 June 2006V/A - Rough Guide to the Music of Tanzania
There is usually at least one essential Rough Guide album each year. This year’s first major contender is one that explores the diversity of one of East Africa’s musical powerhouses.
Saturday 17 June 2006Thomas Mapfumo - Rise Up
Those who know Thomas Mapfumo know him as ‘the Lion of Zimbabwe’, and for good reason: the sixty-one year old has been a champion of Zimbabwean culture (and he was once imprisoned for it). At one time, he was releasing an album a year and playing five nights a week on an unforgiving international tour schedule
Saturday 17 June 2006Julia Sarr and Patrice Larose - Set Luna
In this beguiling album, singer Julia Sarr and guitarist Patrice Larose combine flamenco and Senegalese musical traditions to come out with a familiar in places, yet totally alien, experience
Friday 16 June 2006Louis Mhlanga - World Traveller
A near faultless album and a creative statement of pan-African vision
Monday 12 June 2006The Mahotella Queens - Reign and Shine
This group are veterans of the South African music scene, formed over forty years ago and still going strong
Sunday 4 June 2006Afrolution Vol. 1 - The Original African Hip-Hop Collection
An interesting and informative snapshot of the flourishing continent-wide hip hop scene in Africa.
Friday 26 May 2006V/A - Mapito: Tanzanian Hip-Hop Compilation
Tanzanian Bongo Flava seems to be gathering momentum outside the continent and if the numbers of Fly readers airing their views about this music are anything to go by, it’s moving and shaking its way round the world
Sunday 21 May 2006Hossam Ramzy & José Luis Montón - Flamenco Arabe 2
The celebrated Egyptian composer/arranger carefully navigates the choppy waters of World Music fusion with a subtly integrated and delicately arranged marriage of styles.
Sunday 21 May 2006Ali Farka Toure - Savane
As keenly as the loss of this great artist has been felt around the world, there has also been an intense anticipation surrounding his last ever recording. We now know that the world’s most famous farmer was aware of his impending death in the last few years of his life and it is tempting to see the late burst of recordings and performances as his declared legacy
Sunday 21 May 2006V/A - The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project
Darfur is a story that makes the headlines every few months but things only seem to be getting worse for the people living in a situation that was recognised by the United Nations way back in 2004 as “the number one humanitarian crisis in the world.”
Friday 12 May 2006V/A - Beginner's Guide To Afro Lounge
Can’t say I know what Afro lounge is, but I know a man that does.
Sunday 30 April 2006Natacha Atlas - Mish Maoul
A welcome return to form and return to her North African pop roots for the icon of musical multiculturalism
Thursday 27 April 2006Cheikha Rimitti - N'ta Goudami
The octogenarian Empress of Raï goes back to Oran, the birthplace of Algerian pop, for her long-awaited return to recording
Friday 7 April 2006Wahala Project - Wahala
If you’ve been enjoying the excellent Lekan Babalola 12 inchers on Lex 51 Records you may have been wondering if there were any other artists on the label. Well wonder no more.
Tuesday 4 April 2006Orange Blossom - Everything Must Change
Blending Arabic lyrics, full horns section, heavy guitars and driving, late-90s left-field electronic beats along with some well-placed samples, Orange Blossom are something akin to Natasha Atlas on an angry day.
Tuesday 28 March 2006Dalminjo - One Day You'll Dance For Me Tokyo
Norwegian producer Dalminjo (aka Ole Roar Granli) has his first album in two years coming out on Deeplay.
Saturday 18 March 2006Bukky Leo & Black Egypt - Afrobeat Visions
We have another look at this album ahead of a few live dates in the UK
Friday 17 March 2006Amadou & Mariam - 'Coulibaly' (Remixes)
You can’t ignore Amadou & Mariam at the moment, so why try?
Sunday 12 March 2006Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra - Boulevard de l'Independence
“I want to show how far I can push the improvisation, I aim for sheer technical brilliance.”
Sunday 29 January 2006Tsotsi - South African Film Magic
Tsotsi, a new film from South Africa, may just be the best film to have come out of the country.
Monday 9 January 2006V/A - Congotronics 2
Second volume in the Congotronics series, where traditional, rural Congo collides head-on with the urban rush of modern Kinshasa
Saturday 7 January 2006Lekan Babalola - Kabioye (Mark De Clive-Lowe Vs. Phil Asher)
From the heart of Soho, Digger Elias at Wyld Pytch has just released the best to date in the Lekan Babalola 12” series.
Monday 19 December 2005ALIF - Dakamerap
“Thanks to the all-powerful who gives us the power to continue the fight,” that’s how ALIF begin their sleeve notes. And there’s fighting-talk throughout their album Dakamerap.
Monday 19 December 2005Pluriel - Ile de la Reunion
La Reunion is an unusual place: a beautiful tropical island in the Indian Ocean, fertile, but with an active volcano and in the pathway of cyclones. It is now favoured by French tourists mainly but its inhabitants are able to trace their ancestors back to foreign lands themselves beginning way back in the 17th century. French immigrants, Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians all give the island its ethnic mix.
Saturday 17 December 2005Bantu feat. Ayuba - Fuji Satisfaction: Soundclash in Lagos
While 2005 has thrown up an almost limitless supply of Afro-beat compilations, the hot sound on the streets of Lagos has long been Fuji. Adé Bantu was born and grew up in Nigeria but moved to Cologne where he made a name for himself on the German hip hop scene. Hooking up with the cream of the Fuji scene back in Lagos, he has produced an essential recording full of great tunes and bristling with life
Sunday 11 December 2005V/A - African Rebel Music: Roots Reggae and Dancehall
Out here Records are again breaking ground when it comes to releasing compilations of real sounds from the African continent. This time it’s African Rebel Music - Roots Reggae and Dancehall — an informed and thoughtful grouping from North, South, East and West
Friday 2 December 2005Natural-Self - Ghana Soundz Remixes
The Soundway label from Brighton know their stuff and they’ve got one of Hectic’s favourites to remix a couple of the tracks off their Ghana Soundz Volume 2 compilation album.
Saturday 26 November 2005Salif Keita - M'Bemba
Moffou, his last album, was one of the most beautiful records ever made. Receiving its successor was like queuing up to see Taxi Driver II; how could it possibly live up to expectations?
Saturday 12 November 2005Souad Massi - Honeysuckle (Mesk Elil)
As one who has to confess to coming late to the Souad Massi bandwagon, I must confess I have been bowled over by this album of swirling strings, poignant lyrics and passionate singing named after the artist’s first child
Saturday 12 November 2005Thione Seck - Orientation
The word ‘Orientation’ derives from the practice of aligning churches to point eastwards and carries the added connotations of a direction to travel in, knowledge of where you came from and the beliefs that one holds dear. Thione Seck has made explicit his love of Bollywood and Egyptian music and made one of the most important records of the year in the process
Sunday 23 October 2005V/A - Sound Affects Malmaison (Volume 1 Africa)
This is not the first afrobeat compilation, nor is it even the first to feature remixes by well-known DJs but you do get an eclectic selection of afrobeat classics and there are big guns aplenty on the remix CD including Paul Oakenfold
Saturday 22 October 2005Cheikh Lo - Lamp Fall
If some recent traditional albums give the listener a feeling of tranquility as if reaching an isolated but welcoming village as dusk settles, Lamp Fall by contrast is like arriving in a bustling city full of unique and chaotic possibilities
Friday 21 October 2005Ginger Johnson and his African Messengers - African Party
Flower power is at its peak in Haight Ashbury, the Rolling Stones are answering Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band with their own psychedlic masterpiece and Folonho ‘Ginger’ Johnson releases this long overlooked gem of funky African music in London
Friday 21 October 2005Netsayi - 'The Refugee Song'
Charismatic and soulful London-based singer Netsayi gives us a foretaste of her album due out next year
Sunday 25 September 2005V/A - The Rough Guide to African Music for Children
This is a delightful album full of great tunes and unexpected variety. More than a thousand primary-school-aged children across London, the Home Counties and Cheshire sifted through African music albums and plumped for hip hop, various traditional forms and a little bit of novelty
Monday 12 September 2005Tiken Jah Fakoly - Coup de Geule
Tiken Jah Fakoly is following in Alpha Blondy’s footsteps producing reggae that’s passionate and angry with a contemporary message from Africa
Friday 9 September 2005V/A - Broken Flowers (Soundtrack)
The soundtrack to the new Jim Jarmusch film is a heady cocktail of rock, opera (but no rock opera thankfully) and ethio-jazz courtesy of Mulatu Astatke
Friday 9 September 2005Introducing Daby Balde - Competition Closed
We have given away three copies of this elegantly seductive introduction to the work of Daby Balde (a rising star in Dakar, a soon-to-be star everywhere else).
Friday 9 September 2005V/A - Sound of the World (Compiled by Charlie Gillett)
If you wanted to make a CD of the last year of tunes for Fly from a global perspective, you would struggle to do better than this outstanding compilation. A vast amount of music goes to Charlie, gets listened to and filtered for his shows and then filtered again for his compilations. This really is the best of the last year and a good few pointers for the next one too
Monday 29 August 2005Lura - Di Korpu Ku Alma
“A burning voice providing us with reasons to live …” that was the first quote I read on Lura when researching the young Portuguese/ Cape Verdean singer who seems to have shimmied on to the Lusaphone music scene, and now the world music stage.
Sunday 28 August 2005Orchestra Makassy - Legends of East Africa
Some would say the late seventies and early eighties were the musical hey-day of East Africa. The Zaireans, Tanzanians and Kenyans were travelling in the region, playing regularly to dedicated fans, exchanging styles and influences, collaborating and recording together and making the East swing
Saturday 27 August 2005Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim - Ceasefire
Sudan has many faces: the Christian south and the Muslim north, the African and the Arab, the older traditionalists and the militarised youth. All of them affected and disaffected by Africa’s longest running civil war. A return to normal life, despite peace deals, ceasefires and agreements, still hangs in the balance
Sunday 31 July 2005Abdullah Chhadeh and Nara - Seven Gates
In Seven Gates, virtuoso qanun player Abdullah Chhadeh creates a beguiling and enticing soundscape of one of the world’s oldest cities
Wednesday 22 June 2005Tony Allen - 'Afro Black' Remix for Grupo Batuque
The legendary afro beat drummer Tony Allen has been mentioned a few times on Fly recently as he supported Dizzee Rascal as part of the Africa Remix festival in London and then he went to Paris for a show at the completely renovated 1950s cinema called L'Etage
Saturday 21 May 2005Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - In the Heart of the Moon
From the first few, sharply beautiful notes of this exquisite pairing, it is already clear that this album will be one of the key records of the year. Ali Farka Touré's guitar and Toumani Diabaté's Kora emit a phenomenal series of notes that interlock with each other like two intricate cogs in some otherworldly machine.
Friday 20 May 2005V/A - The Rough Guide To The Music Of Sudan
Sudan. Bigger than Western Europe / scene of the 21st Century’s first genocide/ one of the world’s greatest ancient civilisations/ meeting point of countless cultures/ fundamentalist censorship and flourishing culture. Sudan is so vast, complex and contradictory that one could only have the sketchiest expectations of this LP. Well, forget all that for a moment, this is a collection of great tracks you will love.
Sunday 1 May 2005Just Peace - A Documentary on Sudan's Children
I was walking down a Soho street and heard a man say: "Editing is all about politics..." And I thought how this applied 100% to the film Just Peace that I'd just seen and, I suppose, to the story of Sudan as a whole.
Monday 25 April 2005Cecile Kayirebwa - Amahoro
Cecile Kayirebwa must have seen profound change, hardship and tragedy all around her since her birth in Rwanda in 1946. The 60s saw the end of the Tutsi monarchy and independence for the country when Cecile Kayirebwa was working as a social worker. She then fled in the early 70s to Belgium after the outbreak of civil war, where she lived for the next twenty years. And of course the genocide in 1994.
Monday 25 April 2005Neba Solo - CAN 2002
Neba Solo has been breaking with tradition from day one. He plays the balafon, but not as we know it. Not only does he change the traditional tuning on his big bass balafon, and adopts the highly unusual technique of playing the instrument from left to right, but, well, there's a lot more to it than that...
Saturday 23 April 2005V/A - Songlines: The Essential African Album
Drawn from the broad panorama of Songlines' 50 best African albums, The Essential African Album scrupulously includes East, West, North, South, traditional and modern music from the giant continent.
Sunday 10 April 2005Peace African Youth Ensemble - Mama Africa
Roots music doesn't get much more roots than when fifteen musicians crammed into in a tiny room and playing traditional African music are recorded using the most basic of equipment
Sunday 10 April 2005Sekouba Bambino
So it seems like I'm one of the last to know about Sekouba Bambino. The Beat Magazine was calling him "among the best of Africa's solo vocal performers" in 2002, and Charlie Gillett was raving about him in 2003. Now I'm doing it in 2005.
Thursday 31 March 2005Bomaye - A Luaka Bop Sampler
Luaka Bop's Bomaye Compilation plays like the soundtrack to an almost perfect summer day with nothing better to do than let the beats wash over you.
Friday 25 March 2005Gilles Peterson in Africa
Gilles Peterson in Brazil was a huge success so it comes as no surprise that Ether Records are repeating the formula for an African outing. Gilles is not only a world class authority on Brazilian music, he has created an entire mini industry around him devoted to diggin' in the crates from São Paulo to Belém, so how does he fare in Africa?
Friday 25 March 2005V/A - World Groove
Putumayo's World Groove is a 2-CD compilation of music from around the world and features twenty tracks with a very wide range of styles. It's erratic in some places, excellent in others, but fans of electronica and the eclectic will certainly find plenty to enjoy here.
Monday 31 January 2005Djamel Laroussi - Live
Apparently so many of Djamel's fans asked him about a live CD, he thought he just had to do something about it. Not only is the CD Djamel Laroussi - Live the result, there is also a DVD of the show from Stadgarten, Cologne recorded in October 2003 to go with it.
Friday 28 January 2005Bonga - Bonga Live
Bonga Kwenda, usually known simply as Bonga, is a veteran of the "world music" scene, and the semba music he sings is a wonderful example of a fusion spanning three continents which is all the more vibrant for its ancient roots.
Saturday 15 January 2005Ali Farka Toure - Red & Green
"This is music that has been taken from us," says Ali Farka Toure of the blues and this double LP release of impossible-to-find early recordings is claiming it back.
Friday 17 December 2004Rachid Taha - Tekitoi?
A howl of Arabpean rage set to fuck-you rock and roll. TÈkitoi? confirms Rachid Taha's status as one of the most important rebel voices in Europe and the Middle East.
Saturday 4 December 2004V/A - Mzansi Music: Young Urban South Africa
The emergence of South Africa's urban dance music began with kwaito as Apartheid was crumbling. Once the painful politics of colour were over, black people were free to create, make music and party.
Sunday 28 November 2004Abantu - The Mighty Zulu Nation
It is hard to imagine a more powerful vocal form of music than the massed power of a Zulu group in full swing. But how would it fare when mixed with an eclectic range of beats and music?
Sunday 28 November 2004Dobet Gnahore - Ano Neke
Out of the turmoil of the Ivory Coast, emerges this incredible voice: comparable in range and power to Angelique Kidjo. Effortlessly skipping between languages and African musical influences, Dobet brings to mind the great Miriam Makeba. How can someone generate such comparisons after only releasing one LP? Welcome to the world of Dobet GnahorÈ.
Monday 22 November 2004Bongo Flava: Swahili Rap from Tanzania
In releasing Bongo Flava: Swahili Rap from Tanzania Out Here Records have cottoned on to this phenomenon coming out of Tanzania. The 14 tracks give anyone outside Tanzania and the East African region a feeling for the scene today -- a sense of the sheer number of artists out there and the variety of rap styles and sounds they're producing.
Sunday 21 November 2004Julien Jacob - Cotonou
Julien Jacob has created his own language to express his message of peace while leaving the business of interpretation up to the listener. Originally from BÈnin, he could have chosen one of the 50 or so languages spoken there and it would have had the same effect on all but those who speak that language.
Saturday 20 November 2004V/A: Putumayo Presents Music from the Chocolate Lands
After selling 300,000 copies of their blockbuster release Music from the Coffee Lands, Putumayo are hoping to pull off the same trick with this cleverly themed collection of tracks from Africa, Latin America and India. And let's not forget the influence of the Swiss and the Belgians when it comes to chocolate -- and so, for good measure -- their influence is felt here too.
Friday 8 October 2004Femi Kuti - Live at the Shrine (DVD)
While Africa is full of elected officials who wish they were kings, Femi is the heir to his father's throne but does everything in his power to deserve his good fortune. He practices longer, works out harder, prepares more rigorously and generally goes the extra mile in everything he does as a musician.
Friday 8 October 2004V/A - Essential Afrobeat
After the famine comes the feast. Coinciding with the Fela festivities at the Barbican, this Afrobeat collection has distinguished itself in a suddenly crowded field with two unique selling points...
Monday 4 October 2004Femi Kuti - Africa Shrine
Femi Kuti has been as blessed by the prodigious talent running through his veins as he has been cursed by living in a creative world circumscribed by everyone's expectations of him as the son of the extraordinary Fela Kuti.
Thursday 30 September 2004Khaled - Ya-Rayi
In the DVD which accompanies his latest release, 'King of Raï' Khaled compares the production of an album to both a fable and a country. If this album is a fable, the moral of the story is that we all live happily ever after. If this album is a country, get me a passport.
Friday 17 September 2004V/A - Afrobeat Sessions
An astonishingly broad array of artists deriving deep inspiration from Afrobeat make the first of these CDs constantly surprising, while the second disc goes back to the source.
Friday 27 August 2004Mory Kante - Sabou
Mory Kanté will always be known as the man who unleashed Yéké Yéké on the world -- dance music would never be the same and neither would African music. After half a dozen albums in the same vein and two decades later, he follows Salif Keita, Youssou N'Dour and Khaled in producing a more roots-oriented album.
Saturday 21 August 2004Fela Kuti - The Underground Spiritual Game - Mixed by Chief Xcel
It's Saturday morning and instead of getting out and about, I am glued to my sofa listening to this fabulous release. Chief Xcel has found a perfect formula for mixing Fela.
Friday 20 August 2004Manu Dibango - The Rough Guide to Manu Dibango (Sax Makossa: Afro-avant-garde)
There are so many anthologies and best of albums featuring Manu Dibango that it is hard to see why the world needs another one but I think Rough Guides may have just found a way to slip in one more.
Thursday 18 December 2003Malick Sidibe - Photographs (book)
Malick Sidibé has won the 2003 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography and this book is a celebration of his work.
Monday 8 December 2003Dorothy Masuka - The Definitive Collection
Dorothy Masuka's latest collection celebrates a life, a career, triumph over exile and an enduring voice.
Monday 8 December 2003Various - Drop the Debt
A passionate and varied album and anyone who parts with the asking price is contributing to a more than worthy campaign
Wednesday 8 October 2003Christophe Goze - Sirocco
A well constructed and deeply cinematic album of Middle Eastern flavours from this talented Frenchman.
Saturday 6 September 2003V/A - Oxfam Arabia
The packaging of this compilation, produced by World Music Network for Oxfam, spookily reminiscent of a guide book, gives a clue as to the contents - a scrupulously comprehensive geographical survey of Arabic music, which takes in the major traditional and contemporary currents from Morocco to Iraq.
Saturday 23 August 2003Malick Sidibe - Andre Magnin (Book)
Anyone who has the superb Pirate's Choice reissue by Orchestra Baobab will immediately recognise the work of Malick Sidibé. André Magnin has edited a definitive selection of photos in this Scalo hardback.
Thursday 21 August 2003Ethiopiques
It is hard to overstate just how good the series of recording released as Ethiopiques is. Listening to them is a shock, but a good shock!
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