Today being #45Friday (on Fridays folks on Twitter and Instagram share pics of their favorite 7″ 45rpm records) it gives me the perfect opportunity to share one of my favorite 7″ singles from the past year—Trio Madjesi et Orcestre Sosoliso’sTshitsha. Trio Madjesi were one of the slew of “youth groups” that Zaire was churring out in the late 60s-early 70s. The trio of singers emerged out of Verkey’s group Orchestere Vévé and who’s name Madjesi was formed from combining their own nick names: Matadidi, Djeskain, and Sinatra. As you’ll notice it didn’t end with combining of names. This may be one of the few song you’ll hear combining Spanish, Lingala and English in one amazing soukous track – just wait until the 3:30 mark.
In 1969 James Brown made the historic trip to Zaire where he performed several shows in Kinshasa that was originally apart of the promotion of the Muhammad Ali vs George Forman “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. Those shows had a huge impact on the many young performers like Trio Madjesi. Check out this awesome 25 minute clip from 1973 TV appearance where you can easily see how they incorporated a lot of James Brown’s show style performance. My favorite part comes half way through when they perform in the full Zaire national team football kit while juggling a ball—or rather try to (you recall Zaire qualified the only time in their history for the 1974 World Cup where they didn’t fair so well.) Enjoy!
For this podcast we decided to try something we have never done before — set out to do a show without any records from our collection. Instead we went to a local record swap meet with a set budget of $50 each to create our playlist for the day.
North Oakland record swap meet—time to start digging
Arjuna (DJ Smokestack) is in his happy place
May-Li (DJ China Tu Madre) previewing a possible winner
Jacob (Dj Pozole) scrutinizing each track
Federico (DJ Papicultor) sampling West African treasures
After a full afternoon of digging through many boxes of records from all over the world we headed straight back to La Sala to see if we spent our money wisely. We think we did pretty well, but have a listen and let us know what you think.
Fela Ransome-Kuti and Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker – Let’s Start
20th Century Steel Band – Heaven and Hell is on Earth
Monarco – Silenciar A Mangueira
Avohou Pierre Et L’Orchestre Black Santiago – Makoba Houi Dé O
Please excuse our recent absence from this space. We’ve been doing some remodeling and maintenance, but we’re back now! We’re still very excited to continue sharing more music and culture. In fact, last week we got together and recorded our very first Pelangacast live from our LP clubhouse! The concept is not to have the typical radio “programmed show,” but instead to invite you into our cozy wall-to-wall collection of culture on vinyl as we share stories and discoveries from our musical addictions.
Below is our first episode with more to come soon. Have a listen, and let us know what you think.
Advice – I. C. Rock
Ce La Vie – Les Difficiles De Pétion-Ville
Ah Ah Oh No – La Protesta (ft. Joe Arroyo)
El Preso – Louis Towers [NOTE: This unlabeled record was in a Grupo Kuwait sleeve, but it’s actually Louis Towers]
(Where Were You) Last Night – Sumy
Banana Juana – Ralph Robles
Guami Guami – Sir Victor Uwaifo and his Melody Maestros
Have a seat, relax and let me pour you some sweet Gabonese Soukous. No need for Red Bull, put this one on and you’ll be flying with a steady groove all day long. I think you’ll love how this tune, La Vie by Mack Joss bubbles up non stop with some of the best feel good guitars and horns you’ll likely hear.
And now for a little taste of what to expect at this Saturday’s Pelanga! The legendary Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou Benin stretches out with this scorching Sato-Salsa track. There’s nothing I really can say that hasn’t already been documented by Analog Africa in one of their many compilations featuring the band’s illustrious work from the 70’s and 80’s. That said, we’ll just let the music do the talking. Vamos!
Sometimes trying to decide exactly what records to feature in this space can make for time consuming decisions. What can I say, I’m a Libra. For the past couple of Pelangas I’ve played the title track from this wonderful Nimon Toki Lala record and each time someone has come to the DJ booth to ask “Who is this?!” So I figure that’s a good clue that I need to be posting it here—not to mention she’s one of great vocalists from Togo, a country we’ve yet to highlight.
What I love most about this Nimon Toki Lala record after her voice are the different styles she features. Unfortunately there’s no mention of date, but my guess is late 1980s. The album opens up with this feel-good soukous, Banina.
Later we get this amazing song, La Paille Et La Poutre, with Nimon’s soaring voice over a style of rumba I’ve never heard before. And you gotta love the pasted in applause. I’m not sure if this rhythm is typical Togolese or not, but I’m in love with it!
Then to switch things up a bit more here we have a guest singer alongside Nimon doing an excellent makossa called Vafa Djinam. Again no mention on the record sleeve of who this male singer is or who the musicians are. If anyone has an idea of who else was on this recording I’d love to know.
Sometimes I think that Joe Arroyo’s crazy versatility is one reason why he was not even more famous outside of Colombia. He was a massive salsero, but he was so much more than that! Hardcore salseros often like their music a bit more predictable. You never know where El Joe is gonna take you, or how you’re supposed to dance there. (But that won’t stop you – who else can get a bunch of stiff bogotanos to dance mapalé?)
I was thinking about this, and I remembered the stories of the Festival del Caribe in Cartagena in the early 90s where Joe Arroyo got onstage, completely unrehearsed, to trade verses with Haiti’s Rara Machine, Zaire’s Loketo, and a group from Cuba (forget which) one after the other. We thought we were pretty original when we started La Pelanga 3 years ago, to bring all these musics to the same space. But this man beat us by about 15 years! Well, we can still try our best.
Here’s Sheila Degraff with Clifford Sylvain from Rara Machine. (Short attention span? Your patience will be rewarded.)
And Loketo! Superstars of “TGV soukous” (the branch of soukous named after the French high-speed rail system), huge Pelanga favorites, and the only band I know to feature a car-honking solo: