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:
In the comments of Papicultor’s excellent previous post of Ogyatanna Show Band he requested another 10 min African burner. Well this is about hot as they come. The one and only Lita Bembo et L’Orchestre Stukas Mombombo. Known in the 70s as just Orchestre Stukas, they started out in Kinshasa, Zaire as a pure James Brown cover band. Unlike their famous contemporaries Zaïko Lang Langa and O.K. Jazz who played in the downtown clubs they took to the strategy of playing in the outskirt rural areas for those who couldn’t afford to see the big acts in the city. This proved wise as they gained a big following to the point that the government actually had them performing daily on TV as a way to keep kids off the streets. Their popularity even gained them a spot at the legendary 3 day concert event — Zaire 74 (the famous concert that coincided with the Muhammad Ali – George Forman fight “Rumble in the Jungle”, which featured: Miram Makeba, The Fania All-Stars, BB King, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Bill Withers and James Brown.)
I’m not even sure where to begin to describe this song Dina.
If you close your eyes while listening you’ll likely have some strong visions like being in a cramped humid Kinshasa cinder block walled club, or perhaps some alternate world filled inter-galactic travelers who offer you a draw off their colorful hookah pipe. Whatever it is, if you’re anything like us pelangueros by half way through the song you’ll have all your furniture pushed out of the way, the volume up twice as high and be dancing wildly all over the place. Adjoa, I hope you like this one too. Enjoy!
And here they are performing “Mombomo Dominé” from one of their many TV performances. These guys are just nuts!
My favorite part of Obama’s book “Dreams from my father”, the part that really made me feel that he was the president of *my* country (as opposed to that country where I still can’t vote after 16 years of living here), was the trip to his motherland — especially when he’s hitting up the clubs in Nairobi with his aunties and cousins and “dancing into a sweat, arms and hips and rumps swaying softly […] to the soukous beat”.
So I was so thrilled to get a hold of these:
Obama Wuod Luoby Queen Babito & D. O. 7 Shirati Jazz Band
Yeah, he’s supposed to look all serious to the cameras, non-threatening to the average American, but you *know* he got to hear some of these, and managed to sneak in a bit of “rump” shaking into his busy schedule.
This is a live recording from the 2nd Festival Mondial des Arts Negro-Africains in Nigeria in 1977. (The 1st was in 1966, the 3rd was two months ago. Anyone out there know if there are plans for a 4th anytime soon?)