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OLD WORLD (Asia, Arabia, Europe)

Updated 1 April 2015


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Poltroon Press,
all titles are 40% off during the month of April. This
includes the Discography of Dr Nico I compiled,
which is now in its second printing. So the cost is
$12 only for this month. Shipping is free within the
USA, add $7 for airmail overseas. See link below.

Greetings, Platterbugs!


"Malukayi," a teaser vid for Mbongwana Star's upcoming album from World Circuit, with an appearance by Konono No 1 and elements of Staff Benda Bilili
Here they are, or were, before the programming etc took hold
and another group of (able-bodied) folk musicians from Kinshasa, Basokin Kin

Debut single from the long-awaited new disc of Bomba Estereo

Stern's are releasing a ton of music from Kiamuangana Verckys' back catalogue. Taster here on soundcloud featuring
"Mr. Malonga" by Tabu Ley Rochereau from EVVI Presente "Le Seigneur" Rochereau: Maze
"Makina Loka" by Orchestre Makina Loka from Editions Veve 1969-78
"Balobaka ye Mbongo Mingi" by Verckys from Editions Veve 1972-78
"Souvenir Mpoli" by Empire Bakuba from Verckys présente L'Empire Bakuba de Pepe Kallé, Dilu Dilumona et Papy Tex

I've updated the Verckys and Veve discography page with a load of Veve singles found in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; has also updated with South African 78s on the Zonophone and HMV labels, as well as a photo gallery

Meanwhile you can buy reproduction Treasure Isle 45s from the golden era of Duke Reid here

The appropriately named Joyous Quartet rock out on Smooth Criminal. The future is in good hands.

The Warning: 3 Mexican girls with more talent than your average Sex Pistols

Teletubbies meet Joy Division?!! (via Ben Friedlander on Facebook) Yes, someone did put drugs in your drink...


The Calendar (once again via David Sharp, host of Music International & Crossing Borders, which can be heard here.)

Oakland 4/9: Julius Melendez y Son del Solar @ Lake Merritt Hotel

4/17-18 : Omar Sosa's Quarteto AfroCubano @ Yoshi's

4/23/15 : Morgan Heritage (Jamaica) @ New Parish

Berkeley 5/15 : Sergio & Odair Assad (Brasil) @ First Congregational Church

Boonville 6/19-21 : Jimmy Cliff, Thievery Corporation, Third World, Steel Pulse, The Mighty Diamonds, Ken Boothe, The Melodians, plus more @ Sierra Nevada World Music Festival


You dont have to actually watch this, just listen to it. Lenine Pimentel is one of the most compelling singer-songwriters at work today. He is not much to look at, in a Tom Waits kind of way, but that's okay. If you have your computer hooked up to your sound system, you can just put this on autoplay and get the full experience. It's his 2011 album, Chão, which is replete with wonderful ambient sounds, birds, gravel, a whistling kettle & chiming bells (in "Uma canção e só"), the kind of little touches that remind me of the late Hans Reichel's brilliant Death of the Rare Bird Ymir. Anyway, Lenine improves in concert. He has been performing this material live for a few years and the album is great, but left me wanting more. Here, he intersperses it with other songs from his vast repertoire and gives a thoroughly satisfying hour of music (recorded in concert on tour between 2011 and 2014), even building and deflating the tension, he is accompanied by a bassist (who doubles on bass synth), a lead guitar and a guy on keyboards and effects (Jr Tostoi, Bruno Giorgi and Gabriel Ventura). But it's mostly Lenine playing guitar and singing. There is an audience present but thankfully they are not miked (since Brasilian audiences are prone to singing along at the top of their lungs to show their approval), so you get the full effect of his brilliant delivery and skilled playing. They go through the roof on "Virou areia (Turned to sand)," bring it back down and then quickly escalate for a blistering outro on "Eu sou meu guia (I am my guide)" an autobiographical song. The encore, "Jacksoul Brasilieiro" uses atonal guitar loops to build a rhythm, it reminded me of Beefheart's "Bat Chain Puller" at first. Lenine is almost a cult figure outside Brasil, which is a shame, when so much energy and attention are directed towards any moderately competent singer-songwriter whose songs are in English. However his performance is so engaging you will forget about the language or, check out the lyrics on this website, which features 170 of his songs, and then get an approximation with google translate, if your Portuguese is not up to the marque.


Those Lautari zanies are back, resurrected reformed and full of piss and vinegar. It's actually a new generation of the franchise on this their sixth album, many of the original members having gone to their eternal rest. The four oldest singers have died and for the first time the new recruits are revisiting some of the classics from the repertoire of Romanian ballads and Gypsy love songs, along with the Turkish delight flavored instrumentals they excel at. The lavishly illustrated booklet accompanying this new release shows some of the original members posed in a group shot of musicians from Clejani in 1970. The new recruits are sons of original members who picked up the tunes at their fathers' knees, and Viorica Rudareasa, who sang "Dumbala Dunba" has been re-enlisted into the ranks to sing on four tracks. Her voice is unmistakable and you'll enjoy the translated lyrics of "De unde vi tu, mai lele (Where do you come from, dear lady)?" Now who can forget the funeral of Nicolae Neacsu in Elsa Dahmani's film No Man is a Prophet in his own Land? But before he died he passed on his violin bow-string shredding technique to a younger player. You hear it here on the eerie "Nici nu ninge, nici no ploua (No snow, no rain)." There is flute (Falcaru, still active) accompanying Gheorghe, son of the late Ion Manole, who performs as a street singer in Western Europe. He has memorized a huge repertoire of the old Clejani songs. The band was actually formed in 1990, around the time Tony Gatlif came to Clejani to find real Lautari for his documentary, Latcho Drom -- unquestionably one of the best films ever made about music, and up there with The Girl Can't Help It, Fez: Sound of Soul or the fictional Cadillac Records. (I try to catch them all, from The Runaways to Behind the Candelabra, and if they were good you'd be the first to know.) The new band is in fine form here, with great drunken stop-time rickety rhythms on Ionica's cymbalum as an accordion blows counterpoint to the violin's sad lament, while the double bass tiptoes upstairs to the attic in "The High Balcony in Ciolpan."

most recent reviews:

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

March 2015

E T Mensah King of Highlife Anthology is filed in Ghana
Ndikho Xaba and the Natives went to the Southern Africa section
Samba Touré's Gandadiko and
Boubacar Traoré's Mbalimaou are both filed in Mali part 2
Rough Guide to Blues Legends: Blind Boy Fuller and
the Rough Guide to Unsung Heroes of Country Blues are in USA
Trio Chemirani can be found in Iran, which is in the Arabian sector

February 2015

Rough Guide to Psychedelic Salsa filed under Salsa (New World)
Rough Guide to African Rare Groove is filed under Miscellany (Africa)
Bamako Quintet can be found in Mali part 2
and Debashish Bhattacharya's latest is filed in India

January 2015

I created a new page called Latin Essentials, and have added more to it. Found in the New World section.

December 2014

Verckys et l'Orchestre Vévé comp on Analog Africa is filed in Congo Classics
Spirit of Malombo is filed in Southern Africa
Kassé Mady Diabaté's Kirike is filed in Mali part 2
(All three are also in the top ten of 2014)

November 2014

Abelardo Barroso is filed in Cuba part 4
Djessou Mory Kanté is filed in Mali part 2

October 2014

Nouri Mint Seymali is filed under Arabia
Nakany Kante's Tounka is reviewed in Mali part 2
Neil Dixon Smith's The Panamericanist can be found in USA

My Top Ten of 2014 can be found HERE.

My Top 12 of 2013, with best reissues, etc, is online HERE.

My Top Twelve of 2012 is HERE.

My Top Ten of 2011 can be found HERE.

My Top 9 of 2010 is online HERE

Click HERE for my top 10 of 2009

Click HERE for my top 9 of 2008

Click HERE for my top 10 of 2007

Click HERE for my top 11 of 2006


"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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