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The Sound Of Africa Mix Vol. 2

August 18th, 2008 3 comments

This is the second volume of The Sound of Africa, a mix of relatively new music from Africa and a few classics, compiled for this blog.

Some of these artists have acquired some recognition in the West: Baaba Maal, Fela Kuti, King Sunny Adé, Ali Farka Touré and Manu Dibango may not be household names, but they are join the non-featured likes of Johnny Clegg and some of the acts featured on the first volume among the celebrated representatives of African music. Others, such as Angelique Kidjo and South Africa”s Judith Sephuma have likewise found some international recognition. The keen Africa watcher will know Franco & OK Jazz, the oldest performers on either set ““ the song here comes from the mid-50s.

The versatile, late Brenda Fassie was so much a superstar in Africa, she had no need to look to Europe for greater fame. Her supposed rival for the crown of South Africa”s biggest female star, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, has lived a less rock “˜n roll life; she too is hugely popular throughout Africa. Brenda and Yvonne”s compatriots Bayete were quite big in their country ““ I saw them in concert very often (as I have Ringo Madlingozi, mostly with his fantastic “˜80s band Peto) ““ but just as they threatened to break big, frontman Jabu Khanyile died. Women are better represented here than on the first mix: besides Brenda, Yvonne and Angelique, Mali”s Oumou Sangare and Algeria”s Souad Massi represent.

So, which country can claim the crown of Africa”s musical capital? In my view it”s a four-way tie between Mali, Senegal, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Zaire). And my favourite African artist? That would be a toss-up between Khadja Nin and Ismael Lo.

1. Baaba Maal – Mbaye (Senegal)
2. Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (Cameroon)
3. Fela Kuti – Yellow Fever (Nigeria)
4. King Sunny Ad̩ РMa Jaiye Oni (Nigeria)
5. Brenda Fassie – Shikhebe Shamago (South Africa)
6. Manecas Costa – Ermons De Terra (Guinea Bissau)
7. Ali Farka Tour̩ with Ry Cooder РSoukora (Mali)
8. Bayete – Mmaolo-We (South Africa)
9. Jean Bosco Mwenda – Tambala Moja (DR Congo)
10. Diogal – Samba Alla (Senegal)
11. Ringo Madlingozi – Sondela (South Africa)
12. Angelique Kidjo – Babalao (Benin)
13. Oumou Sangare – Ah Ndiya (Mali)
14. Souad Massi – Yawlidi (Algeria)
15. Yvonne Chaka Chaka – Makoti (South Africa)
16. Franco and OK Jazz – On Entre OK, On Sort KO (Congo)
17. Mose “˜Fan Fan” – Lwambo (DR Congo)

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South Africa rocks…

June 4th, 2007 No comments

In an earlier post, I flagged the genius of South Africa’s Springbok Nude Girls (or just Nude Girls, as they call themselves internationally) and Harris Tweed. The download stats suggest that the uploads were quite popular. So, here’s some more music from South Africa, with a mixed bag of genres.

In case you missed them, the SNG and Harris Tweed links:
Springbok Nude Girls – Blue Eyes.mp3
Harris Tweed – Le Musketeer est Brave.mp3

Besides Harris Tweed, Durban’s Farryl Purkiss produced the other classic South African album of 2006. His self-titled sophomore album is utterly brilliant over the first four songs, and consistently excellent for the remainder. Purkiss has toured internationally with the wonderful Missy Higgins (whose new album I love) and Donavon Frankenreiter (whose CD last year was very good, too). The comparisons to boring Jack Johnson, with whom he has collaborated, do Purkiss no justice “” the guy from Durban is much better. Here’s the album’s second track:
Farryl Purkiss – Escalator.mp3


In
the 1990s, a group called Henry Ate were big on the South African scene. Singer Karma-Ann Swanepoel went to find fame and fortune in LA (dropping the non-superstar surname). Sadly, Karma has not hit the big time. This incredibly beautiful song, one of my all-time favourites by any artist, is from her 1998 album One Day Soon. I have no idea what the lyrics have to do with Johann Pachelbel, or whether the melody borrows from the composer who wrote the Canon in D Minor (if you know, please leave a comment).
Karma – Pachelbel.mp3

Cassette, currently hyped big in SA, are certainly innovative, drawing their influences from all over the place. In isolation their songs are almost uniformly fine, but I find it all just a little to eclectic as a whole. This opener, with its Death Cab For Cutie vibe, is the stand-out track for me.
Cassette – A.I.mp3


Spratch
are a Cape Town emo/punk outfit that self-released their debut, On The Rise, last year. In the way of South African CD stores, only one retail chain bothered to stock the album: one copy in two Cape Town shops only. If the retail herberts have no faith in local artists, it is a reflection on them, not on the quality of the music made by these artists.
Spratch – Two Lives Lost.mp3
Go here to download two songs for free and help the band get some money

One of SA’s biggest rock acts, The Parlotones are a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. When they’re good, they are very good, but when they are bad, ugh! If you’re in England, see them live in June. Here’s one of their songs that is so good, they recoreded it twice:
The Parlotones – Beautiful.mp3


Mandoza is arguably South Africa’s biggest star, and “Nkalakatha” his biggest hit. A musician in the kwaito genre, which combines township pop with house and hip hop. This is the ultimate pump-up number:
Mandoza – Nkalakatha.mp3


And
still on a kwaito trip, Bongo Maffin made some of the most accessible and innovative music in the genre. It helped that the three members came from different ethnic backgrounds (Shona, Xhosa and Tswana), thus fusing distinct musical influences in their music. This year, Bongo Maffin are up for the BBC World Music Awards. Feel the energy on this 2000 track:
Bongo Maffin – Mari Ye Phepha.mp3

Vusi Mahlasela is one of South Africa’s finest jazz guitarist. In the South African context, that is a good genre to belong to. Internationally, it might be misleading. Even Afro-Jazz would be imprecise, though it is not inaccurate either. It’s mellow, it’s jazzy, it’s African. Try it.

Vusi Mahlasela – Silang Mabele.mp3


Between
1988 and 1992, Mango Groove were the biggest name on the South African scene. Combining pop, kwela and the pennywhistles of the mines, the multi-racial ensemble provided the soundtrack to the death of apartheid. Mango Groove deserved a much bigger international audience. Alas…
Mango Groove – Special Star.mp3