Filed under: Dahomey
There are times when I am inspired to write. And then… Well, it’s like pulling teeth.
If you are somewhat familiar with the music of Benin – formerly known as Dahomey, you should own a copy of Analog Africa‘s African Scream Contest (If not, stop what you are doing, run – don’t walk – to your local record store and purchase it. Right now. Go on. Get.). Besides the closing track “Oya Ka Jojo”, you will find an interview with Atchadé Joseph in the extensive liner notes.
Catalog number VG EP 0007 on Les Volcans. Released 1977.
Filed under: Egypt
♬ El Kamh
This post has been written by Hany Zaki – my man in Cairo. Besides being an encyclopedia of Egyptian music, he has been a very helpful resource for other North African and Middle Eastern music. He also runs a website dedicated to Omar Khorshid.
As young man he emerged at the sunset of the grand artists of the Middle East, Omar El Shariyi did not depend much on his family’s wealth through his struggles in the music scene – even though he was blind. His tools were his talent that made him earn studies from various musical institutions worldwide.
He got his big breakthrough when he collaborated with the music superstar Shadia to compose music for her 1979 film “Suspicion My Love”. That opened many doors for him to work with numerous artists in Egypt, and soon afterwards, the rest of Middle East.
In the early 80s, El Shariyi began work with the Roland keyboard company to produce an ‘Oriental keyboard‘. The venture was so successful that it was used a trademark in the music scene in Egypt throughout the 80s and 90s.
Omar had a fruitful career producing tribute albums in his own style of the departed giants of the Middle Eastern music – such as Umm Kulthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Farid al-Atrash and Laila Mourad, to name a few. In 1980, he formed a group by the name of ‘Al Asdekaa’ – or ‘Friends’ – with three singers, which was a popular trend in Egyptian music in the mid 70s and lasted until mid 80s.
In the 1990s, El Shariyi would take standard Egyptian songs from radio programs and transform them to a larger sound production for television programs. Omar’s love for the musical history of Egypt was evident in his compositions for radio, television and film – most of which were recorded in his ‘Omar Sound’ studio.
Catalog number MT 4868 on Soutelphan Records of Cairo, Egypt. Released 1977.
Filed under: Malaysia
Funny… The last single I bought from Malaysia also happened to be cover versions of Bollywood songs. But where as that single was note for note recreations – and all from the same film – A. Aziz & The Addend Boys have transformed their versions into garage rock gems. This track was originally recorded by Mohammed Rafi for the film “Milan Ki Raat“.
Catalog number EP 018 on Rose Record. No further information available.
Filed under: Central African Republic
As I have mentioned before, the best weapon for hunting records is information. But sometimes all you get conflicting accounts or faulty facts.
According to the person who sold me this record, 4 Black Brothers – or, as they are listed on the back cover, Quatre Black Brothers – were from the Central African Republic. I had been searching for anything from that country for quite some time. The only group that I had heard about from C. A. R. was L’Orchestre Centrafrican Jazz, whose records on the Disques France-Afrique label have eluded me for years. But now that I have this record in my hands, I’m cannot confirm where it may have come from – other than a pressing plant in France.
There is not a lot of information on the record sleeve itself. Other than the sentence “Prise de son: ZOUNDI FELIX DAVID – KAKLABAL”, it does credit the songwriters Augustin Zala Kanda Morin and Charles Malonga – who was the band leader. Apparently, Malonga was originally from Gabon, then moved to Upper Volta – now Burkina Faso. He is also listed as the guitarist for the Ivoirian band Jean Raph & Les Zoulous – who released a single on Société Ivoirienne Du Disque. Also, a discography for the label Sonafric lists 4 Black Brothers as having been from Upper Volta… But – at least to these ears – this doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard from there.
Catalog number SAF 61003, Sonafric records of Paris, France. Released 1978.
Filed under: Kazakhstan
The Republic of Kazakhstan is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Europe. The ninth largest country in the world by land area, it is also the world’s largest landlocked country; its territory of 2,727,300 square kilometres (1,053,000 sq mi) is larger than Western Europe. It is neighbored by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea.
Controlled by the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union until it’s independence in 1991 – the last Soviet republic to do so – Kazakhstan’s folk and classical traditions are connected with ethnic Russian music and European classical music. Prior to the 20th century, Kazakh folk music had been collected and studied by ethnographic research teams. After the Russian revolution, what little that was recorded had to be approved by the censors at the Russian state-owned and operated Μелодия (Melodiya) label.
Дос-Мукасан (Dos-Mukasan) were the first modern pop music group in Kazakhstan. They formed in 1967 at the Kazakh Polytechnic Institute in the former capitol city of Almaty. The band’s name was derived from the first syllable of each the founding member’s names: Dosym Suleev, Murat Kusainov, Kamit Sanbaev, and “Sanya” Alexander Litvinov. Although their discography seems to end somewhere in the mid 80s, judging by the many clips on YouTube they are apparently still active to this day.
Filed under: Nepal
♬ Madan Pariyar & Friends • Himal Chulli Palla Patti
♬ Ram Sharan Nepali & Friends • Dhanako Bala Illari Billari
Nepal is a landlocked nation located in the Himalayas, sandwiched in between the People’s Republic of China and India. The country had been ruled by a monarchy since 1768 until a decade long Civil War with the Communist Party of Nepal resulted in the first democratic elections in 2008.
The music of Nepal reflects its culture and its many different ethnicities. Due to its geographic location, you can hear influences from India and China with 81% of the population is Hindu and 10% is Buddhist. But since the majority of the county is rural with only one major urban center – Kathmandu – the predominate music tends to be more classical and folk. Although I have read mention of rock music influencing the music of Nepal as early as the late 70s, I have yet to find any recordings pre-dating the early 90s.
According to Discogs.com, the Shree Ratna Recording Corporation apparently released a number of these “Nepalese Songs & Melodies” / “Folk Tunes of Nepal” / “Nepalese Folk Tunes” seven inch e.p.s in the late 70s and into early 80s. Both Madan Pariyar and Ram Sharan Nepali were featured on some of the releases other than the record posted here. Ram Sharan Nepali has also recorded a few cassettes for the Music Nepal label.
Filed under: Malawi
After Nyasaland gained it’s independence from Britain in 1964, the country became know as the Republic of Malawi. The small landlocked East African nation is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west.
During British rule, very few local artists would gain prominence due to the oppressive colonial regime. After the country’s independence, the most prevalent music on the radio was Western Pop, Congolese Soukous and East African music. But due to the 1968 Censorship Act, Malawian musicians had to write lyrics acceptable to censors to ensure that their songs would be played on radio.
It should be no surprise that the most popular band in the country became the M. B. C. Band, the house band for the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation – which had a monopoly on the airwaves up until 1994. Formed by Kapote Mwakasungura, Mjura Mkandawire and Wyndham Chechamba in 1973, the band pioneered the modern popular Malawi Sound – mixing indigenous music with foreign influences. Although the band went through numerous line-up changes, they disbanded in 2001.
Other than this single, I have also seen a full length album entitled “Kokoliko Ku Malaŵi” on the same label – Ng’oma. As far as I know, The M. B. C. Band and the Chichiri Queens were the only artists on that label that may or may not have been based in England.
Catalog number MBC 001 on Ng’oma Records. Released 1973.