Saturday, August 19, 2017

Easy Ambiance



Two cassettes from Ivory Coast, both by the outstanding ensemble Système Gazeur, one of the many zouglou groups that emerged in that country in the late 1980s and early '90s. About the band I've been able to find little. I can tell you that zouglou arose on the college campuses partly in response to the crisis afflicting the educational system, and accompanied protests against the situation. In the words of a popular tune at the time by the artist Digbeu:

We're tired of your pretty speeches,
Tired of the unemployment rate,
Tired of all these untouchables,
Tired of your hospitals,
Tired of insecurity,
Tired of all these hold-ups.¹ 
Système Gazeur, in Ambiance Facile (EMI E06991-4, 1991) reject the electronic affectations of more recent zouglou artists like Magic System, Sur-Choc and Esprit de Yop, opting for a more organic, traditional vocal and percussion sound. It's truly execptional!

Système Gazeur - Zomammanzo

Système Gazeur - Anangotche

Système Gazeur - Awoulaba

Système Gazeur - Sebosei / Bolisika / Gazer

Système Gazeur - Awoulaba / Akepile / Manhouho / Kalaleda

Download Ambiance Facile as a zipped file here.



Mamie Ton Alloco (EMI E0106292-4, 1992), on the other hand, is well within the zouglou mainstream, with the full complement of drum machines and synth (and apparently a much-reduced lineup). It's nonetheless a great release, an excellent representative of the genre:

Système Gazeur - Mamie Ton Alloco

Système Gazeur - Nathalie Tu Exageres

Système Gazeur - Hommage a Fulgence Kassy

Système Gazeur - Te Memin Houmyoua

Système Gazeur - Depayou

Download Mamie Ton Alloco as a zipped file here.

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¹ "Music is the Weapon of the Future," by Frank Tenaile, Chicago Review Press, 2002

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hot Dance Music from Côte d'Ivoire



Popoko (EMI EO173292-4, 1992) is a lively cassette from Ivory Coast by the group Les Woanthios. All I know about them, and the cassette, is this recommendation from the website NATARI:

Absolutely outstanding in every way. This virtually all girl group, whose popularity in the Ivory Coast is second only to 'Woya', are magic through and through. Which isn't surprising as their rich and varied modern dance music has retained its ethnic roots with a great beat, some really lovely guitar and absolutely smashing vocals. Ble Clotilde shines out both on lead guitar and vocals with a style of music that is very different from what you would normally expect from this part of Africa. My favourite tracks are 'Kopka' and 'Damozode' and that was a very difficult choice to make as dance wise 'Popoko' will leave your socks smouldering!
To that I have nothing to add. It's great!

Les Woanthios - Popoko

Les Woanthios - Tropic

Les Woanthios - Kopka

Les Woanthios - Damozode

Les Woanthios - Damozode (Remix)

Les Woanthios - Popoko (Remix)

Download Popoko as a zipped file here.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Speaking of Fújì....



A few days ago I posted an album by King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1, one of the reigning triumvirate of fújì music in the 1980s. The other two were Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Kollington Ayinla, whom I present today. Kollington is said to have been born as Kolawole Ayinla Ilori in Ibadan in 1953 and started recording when he was in the Nigerian Army in the '70s. By the early '80s he was giving Barrister, fújì's acknowledged king at the time, a run for his money. Until Barrister's death in 2010, the rivalry between the two was fierce and acrimonious, although it's an open question how much of this was real and how much was a marketing ploy. Today Kollington swears his undying love of the late, great maestro.

Kollington Live in America 1997 (Oracle Records AFRO 013. 1997) is truly an odd artifact: Fújì music stripped down to its bare, funky essence - organ, basic percussion and wailing Islamic vocals, uninterrupted for 73 minutes! It's very compelling. Here it is:

General Kollington Ayinla & his Fuji Eaglets - Kollington Live in America

Download Kollington Ayinla Live in America 1997 as a zipped file here, complete
with album artwork.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I'm Glad to Be Back!




Unbelievably, my last post here on Likembe was on April 23, 2013 - more than four years ago! There's no one explanation for the hiatus - I've had other interests, other things going on. Thankfully, there have been no personal crises, no major medical issues (and thanks to the many who've inquired over the years for your thoughtful concerns). But I'm back now, and I'm going to try to post on a more consistent basis - at least once a week from now on.

The African music blogosphere has changed a lot in the last four years, mostly not for the better. Old friends - With Comb & RazorOroWorld Service and Electric Jive among others, have gone dormant or post infrequently. Others have disappeared altogether. I see Moos over at Global Groove is still hanging in there, and newer outlets like Mangue MusicMy Passion for Ethiopian Music and Ndiakass have stepped into the breach. Needless to say, none of us is making any money doing this - it's all for the love. Maybe together we can bring about a revival of the African music scene online!
For Likembe's relaunching I'm posting King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1's Consolidation (The Ultimate Music TUMLP 001, 1994)  which was pretty ubiquitous in Lagos, Nigeria during my first visit there in '94 - blaring, it seemed, from every other market stall and taxi. To me, the opening bars of  "Show Colour" will always epitomize that wild, frustrating and fascinating city. I picked up the cassette back then, but the sound quality left a lot to be desired. What should I find, though, during a visit to Dusty Groove in Chicago a couple of months ago, but an almost-new copy of the LP version. Of course I had to share!

The style of music here is fújì, which had its heyday in the Yoruba areas of Nigeria in the 1980s, when it overtook the better-known (in the West) jùjú music popularized by King Sunny Adé and Ebenezer Obey. Fújì derives from earlier Yoruba Muslim styles like àpàlà and like them eschews most non-percussion instruments (although more recent recordings utilize synthesizers and the like). Think of it this way: jùjú musicians are mainly Christian and the music is often influenced by church hyms, while f'újì is performed mainly by Muslims and hearkens back to the sort of music performed at Yoruba Islamic religious festivals. The vocal styles as much as anything else set the two genres apart. But I don't want to create an unnecessary dichotomy here - fújì and jùjú are popular in both communities!

For those interested in further exploring Yoruba Muslim music, I've written two previous posts, "The Alasa of Ibadanland" and "Yoruba Muslim Women's Music."

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 (b. Wasiu Ayinde Adewale Omogbolahan Anifowsha, 1957) got his start in the Supreme Fuji Commanders of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, one of the founders of the modern f'újì style in the '70s, and broke out on his own in the early '80s with the confusing moniker Wasiu Ayinde Barrister and a number of smash hit LPs. By the nineties he'd changed his stage name to King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 (later to KWAM I and later still to K1 De Ultimate) and was at the top of his game. He's continued to innovate within the fújì genre, adding new instruments and drawing upon influences like rock and hip-hop. Check out this medley of recent tunes that mostly can barely be described as fújì at all - the percussion section is almost overpowered by saxophone, guitar and synth!



For those interested in exploring further online, the Nigerian media is rife with tales of KWAM 1's acheivements, his controversies with other musicians, and descriptions of his opulent palace in Ijebu Ode, complete with snakes and crocodiles. But for now, let the music speak for itself!

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Show Colour

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Ayinde No Go Die/Consolidation/Cruise Control/Hip-Hop

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Orin Eyo

King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 - Power to the People/Ayinde Lagbade Fun/Late Prince Tunde Ojurongbe/Tulampa/Bosun Olaku of London/Kunle Fayemi/Ade Bendel/Alhaji Rasaq Okoya/Eleganza

Download Consolidation as a zipped file, complete with cover and label art, here.