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OLD WORLD (inc Asia, Arabia)

African Discographies

Greetings, Platterbugs!

Updated 1 December 2021

New Releases

New album from Hassan Wargui, who is already in this year's Top Ten (* which is coming soon)

Another "lost" album from Cabo Verde by Tchiss Lopes

Tasty new video from Kiki Valera springs a little guajira on us


Congrats to Jonathan Ward whose excellent Excavated Shellac compilation of world music on 78 was nominated for a Grammy award.

From our Man on the Spot, Ken A: "Short piece on Petrona Martinez, who won this's year's Latin Grammys for best folk album. I really don't care for award shows, but i did enjoy Petrona's album."

A conversation with Nick Gold of World Circuit records, in two parts, on Athens radio

Early Xmas Present for Myself

Donald Lambert is best known for his stride version of Grieg's "Anitra's dance" from Peer Gynt. His other work is not well known and he remains in the shadow of Willie "The Lion" Smith, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller and other masters. Here is a newly discovered private recording of him at a house party


It has been a hellish year for musical legends passing away.

Bopol Mansiamina, aged 72: Congolese guitarist who took mi-solo to new heights, died November 7. His own hits always started full-tilt like they began recording at the bridge or breakdown so there was much excitement on the dance floor whenever you heard his music. He started his career in orch Bamboula with an even greater guitarist, Papa Noel, and then moved with him to the revived Rock'a Mambo after the original band split up (when some members moved to Brazza to form Les Bantous). Then he was briefly in Dr Nico's African Fiesta Sukisa with Josky and then moved with Josky to create orchestre Continental. When Josky joined OK Jazz, Bopol moved to Afrisa of Tabu Ley before joining the greatest supergroup of the time, Sam Mangwana's African All Stars in Ivory Coast in 1979. In 1983 he was a founder of Les Quatre Etoiles, based in Paris. Late in life he traveled to Colombia where he was again widely acclaimed and recorded. His side projects included the Innovation series. He left many memorable hits including "Pitié", "Samedi Soir", "Choisi", "Manuela", "Enfant Bamileké", etc.

Another legendary Congolese guitarist, Bongo Wende, also passed away. He was with Lita Bembo's Stukas before joining Viva la Musica, where you will hear Papa Wemba call out to him. Later he played with Lidjo Kwempa and Nouvelle Generation.

A third Congolese guitarist, Gégé Mangaya of Thu Zaina, Zaiko Langa Langa and later OK Jazz, has died.

Ernest Wilson, Jamaican singer/songwriter, was 69. Wilson formed the Clarendonians when he was only 12 with his friend Peter Austin and they went on to have several ska and rocksteady hits. In 1967 he went solo and hit with "Money worries," "Undying love" (for Coxone Dodd) & "Freedom Train" for Lee Perry in 1969. He was briefly in the Techniques ("Promise Me," 1987) and got together with former Clarendonian Freddie McGregor for some duets, including "Let them talk." As well as working as a backing singer for Jimmy Riley, Johnny Osbourne and others, he contributed instrumental parts to many hits, including bass guitar on Gregory Isaacs' Cool Ruler album.

Abelardo Carbono of Colombia, who just released a new record with Quantic, passed away in November.

Another Colombian legend, Michi Sarmiento, also died in November. He broke through to the European audience with his Soundway recordings a decade ago.

Also hearing news that author Robert Farris Thompson, historian and anthropologist, has died. He is the author of Flash of the Spirit, a book everyone interested in African & Afro-American culture should know.

Latest Muzikifan Podcasts

Playing Favorites has Latin & African
versions of "Alto Songo", new and rarities

Crazy Rhythm features a Bopol tribute, an
Arabic set, and other gems


One of the last classic stripped-down, high energy Soukous acts, Kanda Bongo Man started out in Orchestre Bella Bella of Soki Vangu. His performances brought joy and sweat to generations of Africans, and in the 80s he began touring the world taking his act to a bigger audience. I caught him in San Francisco more than once, and interviewed him on the radio (when I picked him up at the Palms motel he was still in his underwear, so I had to wait for him to get suited up: he was a sharp dresser, short and fat, but brimming with "le Sape"). I got on stage at Slim's to dance the Kwassa Kwassa with him and hung around to chat with bassist Shaba Kahamba afterwards. Here is a classic set, only available on limited-edition CD in a gatefold cover, at a bargain price (£8). It was recorded in another night on the road in the UK (where he now lives) in Summer 2016. Some of his old hits from the 90s are here, like "Monie" and "Rose" and more recent tunes like "Balobi" and the ballad "Wallow." I am not sure who the other personnel are as most of the original line-up are in their mid-to-late sixties now. But then old rockers never die: I saw him with Dally Kimoko on lead guitar, Nene Tchakou on second guitar, Komba Bellow on drums. He has also toured with Diblo Dibala and Rigobert Bamundele "Rigo Star" on guitar, and whoever is on here (he shouts out to "Cochise" and "Saddam") is up there in that league.

AFRO MODERN DREAMS 1974-7 (Matsuli Music MM125)

If you lived in South Africa in the 1970s and hankered for a bit of nightlife you might find yourself at Club Pelican, Soweto's first nightclub (which was definitely on the wrong side of the tracks). This album recreates the epitome of what you might have encountered in this spot, with a sample of groups playing Soul, Funk, Disco and Jazz. I am trying to remember concerts I went to the in the 1970s, living here in California, and remember Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pharoah Sanders, Dexter Gordon, Roland Kirk, McCoy Tyner, Captain Beefheart and a ton of rock and roll acts from the Pretenders to Ian Dury & the Blockheads opening for Lou Reed — but of course most of those bands did not tour to South Africa. (Remember "I ain't gonna play Sun City"!?) Instead we hear here bands called The Black Pages, The Drive and The Headquarters. The jazz tracks are engaging; the Disco one sucks, like all disco. Standouts include "Pelican Fantasy" by jazz Ensemble of Rhythm and Art, featuring Khaya Mahlangu on tenor and Dennis Mpale on trumpet. It's an interesting mix, and most of it instrumental. Lyric content was censored to avoid anyone working in oblique criticisms of the Apartheid government. The Shyannes' sound is sophisticated in a Commodores kind of way; Almon Memela's Soweto perform "Pelican City" with a driving Booker T-like organ and massed "Tower of Power" horns. It's hard not to compare them to better-known American acts as it seems they are all trying to sound like they are from Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia. But their rotating presence in this one club drove them to high levels of competition and quality playing. My favorite band, who backed Mahlathini, are here as Makhona Zonke Band with Teaspoon and West Nkosi on alto saxes, Marks Mankwane on guitar, Joseph Makwela, bass, and Lucky Monama on drums. Other luminaries of the scene appear here and there, including sax player Duku Makasi, keyboard player Bheki Mseleku, and bassist Sipho Gumede. Skip the disco track and you have some fine, sharp playing. And, as usual with Matsuli, the remastering is flawless, giving crystal clear audio, and the packaging with rare photos and histories is impeccable.

MBALAX (Universal Music Africa)

It's been two years since Youssou N'dour's last album, a period of reflection, for all of us, locked down at home. However he has a recording studio in his house and has a parade of young bloods coming by to wax their own tracks and keep him abreast of musical development is his hometown of Dakar. To the traditional mbalax sound that he pioneered with his group Etoile de Dakar, he has grafted on elements of stadium rock and Latin salsa (so far no Hip Hop, grâce à Dieu). The old Cuban-tinged Senegalese music of his peers like Baobab and the original Star Band was indeed the sound that the polyrhythmic intensity of mbalax swept away. He used to put out twin releases, one for the domestic African market (rawer and more drum heavy) and one for the Western fans (with the rock sound and synths), but the two styles eventually merged. The latest album starts quietly with synthesizer strings, incongruous kora (yes it's a West African instrument but I think of it as a chamber or solo sound and not part of a large rock ensemble) and then horns and trap drums underpin the big sound he developed touring with Peter Gabriel in the 1980s. Electric guitar and massed tama and conga drums quickly assert themselves and fortunately he has the voice to stay on top of it all. By now the drone of the synth and the occasionally tinny lead which resembles no known musical instrument are a little tired, a musical security blanket that Youssou falls back on. When he toured he relied on his guitarist and tama drummer on stage but now, in the studio, he can tinker and layer and this cocoon prevents us hearing the essence of his music. He does get there eventually, but it's through a sonic haze. His singing and songwriting are still strong but an unplugged album would really clear away the cobwebs.


Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, founder of the Ghanaian Essibons label, produced many hits over the years and was surprised that songs he considered rejects had become "the foundation stones" of his revival thanks to Analog Africa's Afrobeat Airways album. The subsequent reissue of Funky Rob Way led to a falling-out with Samy ben Redjeb, but they had patched things up and were working on this Ghana Powerhouse album when Mr E passed away in July 2020 at the age of 90. After studying accounting in London in the 1950s, Essilfie-Bondzie opened a pressing plant in Accra to speed up and reduce the cost of pressing albums in Ghana. His label soon attracted talents like Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Ernest Honny, Ebo Taylor & C. K. Mann. Mann & his Black Masters are in top form here, well actually they are the Carousel 7, with Kofi Yankson on vocals, performing "Yeaba." Mann's Big Band, with Ebo Taylor, also deliver "Fa W'akoma Ma Me" from 1976, another highlight. Before his death Mr Essiebons was going over his master tapes again, digitizing them, and Samy was able to get together half a dozen previously unreleased songs for this album to make it truly "special." Ambolley is credited with introducing the synthesizer to Ghana and I genuinely wish he hadn't, or that it had come with instructions on how to actually play it, instead of making it fart constantly, as it does on All Stars Band's "Ahwenepa Nkasa," here credited to Joe Meah. Afrobeat fans wont notice, or care, however. Seaboy is on here with "Africa" which has a great groove but is very poorly recorded. The same group (as Nyame Bekyere) give us a long medley from their Broken Heart LP, which sells for $500 on discogs when available. Ernest Honny pops in and out with four pleasant little organ instrumentals (described as "interludes.") The highlife rarities on here are worth the price of admission and, as expected, it is handsomely packaged.

2021 in Review

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


November 2021

Oliver Nayoka's latest Aja Wele-Wele is filed in Nigeria part 2
Sexteto Tabala's 100 years can be found in Colombia part 2

October 2021

Cameroon Garage Funk 1964-79 is filed under Cameroun
Super Biton de Segou's Afro Jazz Folk Collection vol 1
Mande Guitar
from "Badian" Diabaté and
Kadialy Kouyaté's Aado are all in Mali part 5

September 2021

Houcine Slaoui went to the Moroccan section (Old World)
Baligh Hamdi's Modal instrumental pop of 1970s Egypt went to the Arabia section
Guy Buttery's collab with two Khans is in Old world Miscellany
Fanfare Ciocarlia's latest, It wasn't hard to love you, can be found in the Gypsy brass section

August 2021

The Rootsman's Essentials are found in the world miscellany section
Abdelli's Songs of Exile from Algeria is in the Algerian section
Three classics have been added to the Tanzania part 2 page:
Siti Binti Saad
Francis Raphael Mwakatime
& Didier Bosco Mwenda
Manzanita y su Conjunto are filed under Peru

July 2021

Tribu Baharú's latest is filed in Colombia 2
Joseph Kabasele & the creation of Surboum African Jazz is filed under Congo Classics part 2
Rough Guide to the best Country Blues you've never heard, volume 2 is filed in the Blues section
Ephat Mujuru & the Spirit of the People's Mbavaira can be read about in Zimbabwe

June 2021

Kolonel Djaffar's Cold Heat in filed in Old World miscellany
Hailu Mergia is found under Ethiopia & Somalia
Hassan Wargui's Tiddukla is in Morocco which is in the Old World frame
Jivago is in Angola which is firmly in the African section
Dobet Gnahoré is in Ivory Coast (with less certainty)
Semblanzas del Rio Guapi are filed in Colombia part 2

May 2021

Jose Carlos Schwarz & le Cobiana Djazz's Lua ki di nos is filed in Cabo Verde
Kasai Allstars' Black Ants fly... can be read about in Congo part 4
Dagar Gyil Ensemble are filed in Ghana
Pao Barreto's Spiralis is in Colombia part 2
Samba Touré is Malian, and his latest is archived in Mali part 5
Kharia Arby Live is also found there
Ben Aylon is an honorary Senegalese, so he is in Senegal part 3
Radio Tutti and Barilla Sisters' Xogo is in the catch-all Euro misc section

April 2021

The Boys from Nairobi is filed in Kenya/Tanzania part 2
Excavated Shellac: an alternate history of the world's music is filed in world misc
Delgres' 4 ed matin can be read about in Caribbean section, which is also misc
Bejuco are from Colombia
Afrosound too,
and also Tomate y Alandette, and all can be read about in Colombia part 2
Edo Funk Explosion is in Nigeria part 2
Baluji Shrivastav is filed in India part 2

March 2021

Stella Chiweshe's reissued Ambuya! can be found in Zimbabwe
Vis-à-Vis's Odo gu Ahoroo is filed in Ghana
Bomba Estereo's Agua can be found in Colombia part 2
so can Alfredo Linares's Mi nuevo ritmo
Electric Jalaba went to Morocco (which is in the Old World section)

February 2021

Anansy Cisse's second album and the latest from Nahawa Doumbia are filed in Mali part 5
Sam Mangwana's Lubamba is in Congo part 4
Atrium Musicae de Madrid can be read about in the Spain section
Nkumba System is filed in Colombia part 2
Yamile Cruz Montero is in Cuba part 4

January 2021

Alostmen's Kologo is filed in Ghana
Raed Yassin's Archaeophony has gone to Arabia
Makgona Tsohle Band's debut album is filed in South Africa
Ibrahim Khalil Shihab Quintet's Spring can be found there also
Alfredito Valdez Jr's Gozando!! and Cha-cha-cha from Coleccion Gladys Palmera are filed under Salsa
Rough Guide to Avant-garde Japan went to Asia
Faraon Bantu y Champetman is filed in Colombia part 2
Juffureh Band of Sukutu in the Gambia can be read about in The Gambia section
Ricardo Lemvo's latest is filed in Congo part 4
Sidi Touré's Afrik toun me and Songhoy Blues' latest are filed in Mali part 5
George Mukabi's Furaha wenye gita can be found in Kenya part 2


















"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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