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 Luo by 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.
Ok, that dude’s optimism makes me feel like a real cynic…
I got a bunch more of these, but maybe that’s enough for now.
But hey, in these days of tight budgets, I’ve told you that these and other treasures are accessible to you in our public libraries, right?
No time to say much, or even to take a good photo of the record, but that’s ok. We’re here for the music.
The first merengue CD I ever bought was by Juan Luis Guerra, thanks to my fellow student, known fondly as Copete, who taught me how to dance it when I arrived at college. Little did I know that ten years later I would play “A pedir su mano” (Translation: “To ask for her hand”) during my wedding. It was too appropriate – we couldn’t pass it up.
(The video includes some bad 80s effects and some brilliant footage of the Dominican Republic. I’d never seen it till now.)
Also at college, I was invited to learn and perform a dance to Soukous, thanks to Janet and Kirimania. When people who hadn’t heard it before asked me to describe what Soukous sounded like, I would tell them it was “how you’d imagine Merengue sounded before it crossed the Atlantic”. At the time I didn’t realize that in fact, it really had.
This was affirmed again many years later, when we picked up this little treasure:
And to our surprise, we found this song, Dédé Priscilla, by Lea Lignanzi – the original version of “A pedir su mano”. Since then we’ve tracked down a few other tracks by Juan Luis Guerra that are adaptations of soukous. Maybe I’ll dig those up for you sometime.