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OLD WORLD (inc Asia, Arabia)

African Discographies

Greetings, Platterbugs!

Updated 1 October 2022

New Music (not reviewed below)

Ray Perez y el Grupo Casabe is finally out (I jumped the gun and reviewed it a couple of months ago, that's how excited I was by it)

Al-Qasar "Who are we?" — rough & ready Middle-Eastern psych rock with Sonic Youth and Jello Biafra jumping in. (Track 5 sounds like Jimmy Page!)

"Jingul" by Ustad Noor Bakhsh from Balochistan, this rocks, check out the video too

New comp of psychedelic Nigerian music of the 1970s from Africa Seven

Haitian roots from Wesli

New anthology from Linda Ronstadt explores her Tex-Mex border roots. With Ry Cooder, David Hidalgo, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Los Cenzontles


Cheikh Lo, sublime new recording & video of his hit "Mam Bamba"

Nfaly Diakité "Donso" (Praktika remix): some Afro-house (from Ardo Hanne of Mieruba label), reminiscent of the late great Issa Bagayogo

Simba Wanyika documentary (via Nick Beddow)

Vijana Jazz, live in 1995 (from guitarist John Kitime)

Brief clip on Music of Togo, with Dogo (via Elikeh Afropop)


Pharoah Sanders, age 81, legendary American saxophonist who picked up the mantle of John Coltrane and continued to evolve, exploring African rhythms and instruments, gigging with oud players, Gnawa master Mahmoud Guinea and many others in his long and productive career.

Angus Gaye a.k.a. Drummie Zeb, lead singer and drummer of British reggae band Aswad, age 62.

Latest Muzikifan Podcasts

(Note: I've moved the muzikifan podcasts to
Soundcloud; please subscribe on their site)

Pamelo Mounka'a Special:
a reprise of a classic show from 1996
celebrating the Congolese singer

Mixing It Up: Music from Africa, Brasil,
Puerto, Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Cambodia
and much more

Version to Version shows connections
between the music of Africa and Cuba, the
US & Jamaica

October Surprise
features all the music reviewed below, &
then some

ARCHAEOLOGY (Real World Records RW247)

It's been 15 years since Björk invited the members of Konono No 1 to tour with her in 2007. She was among the first to use the gritty urban sounds (descendants of Zombo ritual music, originally played on elephant tusks) as a basis for her world music explorations. In the last two decades we have had some more or less successful forays into the trance genre of electric likembes with home-made percussion and rudimentary D-I-Y amplification serving as the basis for "world beat" improvisers. Now the Congotronix boom continues with another layer added due to a chance encounter in the Paris metro. Algerian DJ Nadjib ran into another DJ, Aero Manyelo from South Africa, in the musty Paris underground and as they chatted they discovered that their musical backgrounds from the top and bottom of Africa collided in the heart, Kinshasa, and their shared passion for the Congotronix sound. Manyelo cut his teeth in Jo'burg remixing Mahotella Queens while Nadjib was working with Gnawa Diffusion in Algeria. They found quite a few Congolese musicians, including members of Kasai All Stars, already in France and Belgium, willing to get involved. Taking tracks from recently disbanded Mbongwana Star they added flutes and beats. They created music in the studio, but also through jamming live in concert with their newfound friends from the Congo. Joining in are Wengu Waku, singer from Konono No 1, Muambuyi, singer of the Kasai All Stars and soukous guitarist Mopero Mopumba of Basokin. There are still strong folkloric strains in the vocals as the singers bring melodies from the bush, singing about animals and birds of the Kasai region in Tshiluba, or the need for community in Swahili. Their message is about survival in the midst of conflict and strife. I am not sure if the crackling on "Chibinda Ilunga" represents the fizzling surface of an old record (there is a Berber-sounding flute on here) or the sparking of a log fire. Here the ancient-to-future blend works well, though in large part because it is now quite familiar to us (In fact you will recognize the samples on "Bonjour"). This collaborative effort extends to art, photography and fashion as the two DJs present an entire aesthetic experience based around their explorations of Congolese traditions updated to the 21st century.

SONBONBELA (Sublime Frequencies)

This is one of two bands I would have gone to see live had I been at WOMAD in UK this year. The album, their third, captures the excitement of a live show and, as I am unlikely to get to Burkina Faso soon, I will settle for the buzz it generates. (Speaking of civil unrest, Mali, Chad, Guinea and Burkina Faso have all had military coups in the last two years.) The band is tight, powered by solid trap drumming from Abbas Kabore, but the effects on vocals and guitar allow those parts to overflow the rhythm creating a nice giddy imbalance like they are swinging on the verge of chaos. Issouf Diabaté is the guitar wizard on here, every bit as flashy and potent as Bombino or his Diabaté namesakes, that is Sekou "Bembeya" Diabaté ("Diamond Fingers"), Sekou "Bambino" Diabaté or Zani Diabaté. The traditional aspect of the band — the Mandingo part — is singer Mamadou Sanou who plans Doso ngoni and the balafon player, Nickie Dembélé, who doubles on percussion. The hype for the album mentions "dance floor bangers," "Fela-inspired groovers," and goes so far as to draw comparisons to Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. This reminds me of the story of Jimi Hendrix seeking out Docteur Nico in Paris (which is demonstrably false), but it suggests that to validate African musicians they have to be ranked alongside Western counterparts. So, I did not say Okaidja's acoustic guitar reminded me of John McLaughlin, because then you would demand more proof. It was just a feeling, and I no longer own The Inner Mounting Flame to verify the comparison. But I don't think I hear anything like the Magic Band in here. Some reviewer must have planted that notion in the label's head. Yes, Sanou has a gravelly voice, but his ngoni playing is clean and clear (unlike Van Vliet's free-form horn squawks), and while Beefheart had a marimba player (called Ed Marimba), he was more asymmetric than the keen continuo we get here. The percussion here is complex, with congas in counterpoint to the traps, and we might approach something like the Magic Band's forced disrhythmic vocabulary, but again Commandant's men are more accomplished in that department. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Beefheart fan, I just feel there must be more apposite analogies for the music of this Mandingo Band. I certainly hear echoes of other West African bands, but then you would, wouldn't you? This is a great album, full of drive and the sense all of them are in control of their aspect of the sound and striving to push it to the max.


Samy ben Redjeb continues to amaze us with his musical revelations. In some ways he is following in the footsteps of Günter Gretz, who put out 50 essential CDs and LPs in the 80s and 90s. The original idea behind Popular African Music was to showcase each genre of African music, with gems from Sam Mangwana, Youssou Ndour, Philip Tabane, Baobab, Balla et ses Balladins, and Kante Manfila setting the course. Ben Redjeb seems to have had a similar mandate, starting out with Green Arrows and Hallelujah Chicken Run Band of Zimbabwe, before getting deep into a Benin groove in the first decade of this century. He too has unearthed great music from Senegal, Cabo Verde, Mali and Angola but also branched out to Brasil, Colombia, and beyond, and in a similar time period has issued over 100 recordings of infinite value to DJs, collectors and aficionados of world music. This new LP is a 4-track reissue from Ivory Coast's Badmos label, containing dance tracks from the 1970s. The reason I thought of Popular African Music was Günter touched on Ziglibithy in his "Reminiscin' in tempo" series of "Dancefloor classics". In fact the second track on here, "Ziglibithiens," was also the second track on PAM ADC 305 by Ernesto Djédjé, which included most of his great first album Vol 1 (on Badmos). This Analog Africa disc is not a rival to the PAM compendium, which was an overview, but rather a hot slice geared to the dancefloor. Djédjé was a promising young guitarist who dropped out of Amédée Pierre's band Ivoiro Star to go to Paris and study computer science. There he met Manu Dibango and cut a few singles. On his return home in 1974 he looked to start a new band; they went on tour to Nigeria and were blown away by Fela. Fusing Makossa, funk and disco with traditional Bété rhythms proved a huge success for the Ziglibithiens. To capture the excitement of their new sound, Badmos, the producer, sent them to EMI studios in Lagos and arranged for Fela's engineer to record them. Ignace de Souza of the Black Santiagos was brought in as arranger. The first two singles were smash hits and soon led to a whole new genre of music, called Ziglibithy. After six years and a few albums Djédjé died suddenly in 1983 but his music continued to grow in popularity. It was in Colombia where the sound systems accorded the song "Ziglibithiens" legendary status. The album shows Ernesto dressed like a true funk star in a teal stage costume with bell-bottoms and a wide-cut vest and hairdo reminiscent of James Brown. He is right there, bringing the churning funk, with a good deal of soul to boot.


Swinging between rootsy tribal chants and lightly picked guitar ballads, this album offers a lot. Inspired by Ancient traditions of his village of Kokrobite in South-eastern Ghana, Okaidja Afroso sings in Gãdangmé (which is a language I have never heard of). Facing the Atlantic these Ghanaians made their living as fishermen and created songs and chants as generations of workers tend to do. While his mother sang in the church, young Okaidja worked as a fishermen and learned acapella songs as he worked alongside old-timers. As you know the Evangelists were fisherman, so it is a good discipline for someone who has a calling to spread the word. Adapting these folk songs to modern lyrics, Afroso finds the ancient harmonies compatible with his ideas about drum and dance music. At 19 he got the opportunity to become a professional dancer with the Ghanaian University national dance ensemble and toured the USA and Germany. Acapella suits this outfit well, but the group segues neatly back into their modern mode, so you don't get the feeling you are at a cultural soirée with hoary old salts delivering sea shanties. Drawing equally from Palm wine music ("Sudin") and Afro-jazz ("Gidi gidi") the young group fuse history with their irrepressible energy on bass, guitar and trombone (on "Srortoi"). Alongside Okaidja, singer Jenny Flow also dances in performance. This is their sixth album, and it is highly polished, especially the interplay between the two acoustic guitars and the simple percussion. The lyrics present notions such as "dark skin is not a result of sunburn but evolution from the deepest core of black soil and depth of dark matter" or "Impatience bares [sp?] no solid ground for spiritual advancement, keep focus on your own dancing feet, the boiling water will soon touch the lid."


Peru's now-celebrated MAG label brought a tropical Latin vibe to the loudspeakers of Lima and beyond in their heyday. After several reissues, Vampisoul's parent company Distrolux has acquired the entire back catalogue of the label and this album showcases a plethora of dance hits from their golden age of the 60s and 70s. The names are mostly new to me. Wild bongos and electric guitar set the stage with a "Cumbia con guitarra" from Los Avileños. It bounces along in like mode with catchy 3-minutes ditties. Silvestre Montez, with "El Diablo," provides a great percussion break on timbales that would still excite dancers today (though at 2'41 you might have to play it twice). Chicha style guitar floats through the disc, and strikes home on Poppy y su Pirañas' catchy "Guayaba." Los Kintos, who had a recently reissue on Vampi also, turn in a horn-driven guaracha number called "Tin Marin." The great pianist Alfredito Valdez Jr gives us "Aprieta (Oye Como Va)," which was included on his essential album Gozando! that I reviewed last year, so no need for me to go over it, but this is a gem if you don't have the whole album. He started out as pianist in Arsenio's band in New York and made his first solo recordings for MAG in Lima in 1965. Ñico Estrada y Su Sonora pour fuel on the fire with a smoking "La Malanga," a pure descarga. It quits at 3'08 and you are already drained (if you've been attempting to move to it). The last cut is "Machupicchu" by Melcochita and Karamanduka. This rare reissue (originally on an LP called MAG All Stars Vol II) is another crucial track. Here they boastfully shout out to "Beny More — Peruviano!" (Melcochita) and "Eddie Palmieri — Peruano!" (Rafael la Nino) and also credit Melcochita for playing the bass. This great closer is not on the Acabo con Lima album which I reviewed last month, and thankfully does not fade out at 3 minutes but runs twice that length. Full steam ahead.

AFRICA 5.000 (Vampisoul 267)

This is the first reissue of an LP from 1975, featuring one of the most sought-after albums from Colombia, showcasing the Afro-funk style of Wganda Kenya. The picóteros loved this disc to bits back in the day as it has a wide variety of sounds. Opening up is "La Torta" which riffs off of Haitian compas and takes us on a wild carousel ride. Your head will spin. The maestro who led so many sessions in the day, Fruko, directs from his bass and he and singer Joe Arroyo were clearly having too much fun in the studio when they cut "Fiebre de Lepra (Leprosy fever)" which is loosely in a Makossa style. Blues and Latin merge in "Tifit Hayed," another dance-floor crasher with Farfisa, piano and assorted jungle noises. The counterpoint is held down brilliantly on cowbell, for those craving more of that dissonant clank. A Brasilian cover (apparently) kicks off the B-side (the blistering "El Caterete" which sounds like a descarga to me), but it's the Afro-funk that made this album a keeper and it was a trend-setter for the time. Why the album was ahead of its time may be because of the looseness and the free-for-all quality of the recording which seems like one jam after another. There's only one slip: a limp ballad, "Entre tu y yo," but it is soon washed away with more goofy organ and quirky vocals. To round things out there's a bonus track, "Mira para Arriba, Mira para Abajo (Look up, look down)," with now fuzz tone added to the organ. It's a pleasant enough ditty, but I think the diehard fans will want the A side material to keep their party jumping.

Reviewed so far this Year

(click on maps at the top of the page to get to continent of choice)

September 2022

Celestine Ukwu can be read about in Nigeria part 3, as well as on his own page in the discography section
John Ondolo and his Hypnotic guitar went to Kenya, Tanzania part 3
Shikamoo Jazz live and John Kitime's new album with Wahenga are also filed there
Kanda Bongo Man went to Congo part 4
Alfredo Linares with El Pito is filed in Peru
Los Dementes can be read about in the Venezuela section
Rough Guide to Memphis Blues is filed in Blues

August 2022

BKO's Djine bora is filed in Mali part 5
Oriental Brothers new album Oku Ngwo can be found in Nigeria 3
Cabruera's Sol a Pino is filed under Brasil part 3
Crossroads Kenya is filed in Kenya & Tanzania part 3
The Movers hit compilation is filed in South Africa pt 2
Karamanduka and Melcochita's rare collab can be found in Peru
Ray Perez with el grupo Casabe are now in Venezuela
Los Corraleros de Majugal are in Colombia part 2
& let's not forget Folk and Great tunes from Siberia in Old World misc

July 2022

Los Kintos have gone to Peru
Los Volcans du Benin are also repatriated in their homeland
Los Calvos are filed in the new Venezuela section
so are Los Kenya with Siempre Afro Latino
The Live at WOMAD 1982 comp is in the Miscellany section
Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde plays flamenco so I set him down in Spain
You can read about The Bongo Hop in the Old World Miscellany section,
as I don't think it deserves to be in the Colombia section

June 2022

Oumou Sangare's Timbuktu is filed under Mali part 5
read about Zambian Michael Baird's Thumbs on the Outside in Euro miscellany
Congoman Remmy Ongalla's reissued Songs for the Poor Man is filed in Kenya/Tanzania part 3
Noori & His Dorpa Band are from Sudan, in the Africa section
Swede Robi Svärd is filed in Spain
Cie Tambor y Canto is New World Latin music but filed in Old World miscellany, as the leader is French
Los Calvos ...Y que Calvos can be found in Venezuela
Ebirac All-Stars are in the Salsa category
Mista Savona's Havana Meets Kingston part 2 can be found in Caribbean misc

May 2022

Godwin Kabaka's International Band's Kabaka can be read about in Nigeria part 3
Viviano Torres Ane Swing's Joyas Champetas is filed in Colombia part 2
I stuck Color de Tropico vol 3 in Venezuela
A couple of recent Blues comps from Rough Guide and Putumayo are found under the Blues tab
Bomba Estereo Live in Dublin is also in Colombia part 2 (not in Ireland)

April 2022

Africa Negra's Antologia vol 1 is filed in Sao Tome
Animamundi from the Spy from Cairo is filed under Arabia
Rough Guide to Delta Blues vol 2 can be found in the Blues section
Nuru Kan's latest is in Senegal part 4

March 2022

Saturno 2000 comes from all over Latin America, but I filed it under Colombia 2
Burkina Azza's Wari Bo is filed in Bukina Faso
Gonora Sounds are from Zimbabwe
Coco Lago is Latin/salsa, found in Peru
Ano Nobo Quartet are filed in Cabo Verde
Owino Sigoma Band are filed in Kenya/Tanzania part 3

February 2022

Okuté by Okuté is filed in Cuba part 4
as is Changui – The Sound of Guantanamo
Kadi Yombo
by Pape Nziengui is filed under African misc as there is no section yet for Gabon
Rokia Koné's Bamanan went to Mali, part 5
Zanzibara vol 10 is filed under Kenya & Tanzania, part 3
Wganda Kenya's self-titled debut is found in Colombia part 2

January 2022

BaianaSystem's latest Oxeaxeexu is filed in Brasil part 3
Imed Alibi & Khalil Epi's Frigya can be read about in Arabia
Tony Ugabi's debut album is reviewed in Nigeria part 2
Two reissued albums from Vis-a-Vis are filed in Ghana part 2
Although he is in Switzerland, I have archived Anour Cherif's album in Algeria



















"Essential reference guide to the Congo guitar king" — SONGLINES 64 **** (four stars)
"I do not know anybody who has such immense knowledge of African music. Congratulations." — Gerhard G (a purchaser)

BACK IN PRINT (Second edition, November 2012)

By Alastair Johnston

Poltroon Press, 2012, expanded to 88 pages; list price $19.95.
Available now. Click HERE for details.



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