Review: Africa Seven ignites 2017 with an outstanding addition to their African Funk Experimentals series with this precision curation of Cameroonian Ekambi's best work. Taken from albums such as Djambo's Djambo's, Africa Oumba and his two eponymous albums, the far-reaching collection ranges from downhome low-swung bluesy funk disco ("Soul Castle") to glistening highlife vibrancy ("Lambo Lena") by way of thumping French disco ("Nyambe"). Brilliant by name, brilliant by nature...
Review: A veritable French fusion institution; classically trained Cameroon musician Eko Roosevelt Louis was responsible for a catalogue of exciting jazz funk, disco and afrofunk records throughout the 70s and remained active touring Europe until the 90s when he returned to Cameroon to inherit the role as tribal chieftain from his grandfather. Released in 1979, Funky Disco Music was his third album and packs some of his most powerful compositions. The triumphant title track says it all; laidback, charming and full of positivity it sets the scene for the whole trip. Highlights include the rock-tinged soul chugger "Une Chanson Sans Paroles", the highlife uplift of "Doi Da Manga" and the smouldering showstopper finale "Emen Ango". Dig deep and enjoy... Africa Seven promise more Eko reissues in the near future.
Review: Between the mid 1970s and the late 1980s, Cameroonian duo J.M Tim and Foty recorded a string of killer Afro-funk albums. This superb compilation from Africa Seven shines a light on the best of the duo's early work, with each of the ten tracks recorded between 1977 and '79. There's much to set the pulse racing throughout, from the crunchy Clavinets, punchy horns and heavy grooves of opener "Douala By Night" and the rubbery disco-funk of "More and More", to the swirling, celebratory vocals, sun-kissed guitars and dazzling analogue synth solos of "Ale". Elsewhere, check the Bee Gees-in-Cameroon flex of "Funky Boogie Love" and "I Love Youande", a breezy affair with a touch of country-funk swing and an a sublime bass guitar riff.
Review: Charlie Kingue Soppo, known simply as Charly Kingson, is a legend of afro-funk who managed to shake the entire continent up with his infamous 1978 LP, Born In Africa. Often forgotten when conversations turn to Afro-dance, and the likes of Tony Allen or Fela Kuti, he has been an incredible source of inspiration to many musicians exploring the funkier side of jazz-dance, and this album itself goes way beyond any traditional notion of tropical discotheque. In fact, tracks like "Makakane Masu" verge on the soulful and the poppy, while "Born In African" itself is a funky groover for the dancefloor. All in all, this is an album which was dying for a re-release, and now you can enjoy it courtesy of the wonderful Africa Seven outlet. Boom!
Review: Having previously reissued Pasteur Lappe's sought-after 1979 sophomore set, No Man Pass Man, the crew behind the Africa Seven label has turned its attention to the Cameroonian artist's similarly impressive debut, We The People. It's a vibrant and hugely entertaining six-track set, with Lappe offering up a range of dancefloor-ready cuts that variously touch on heavy Afro-disco ("More Sekele Movement (Papa Ni Mama)"), horn-heavy tropical funk ("Dora"), saccharine English language ballads ("Watcha Get Ma Day Dreams"), thrusting disco-funk righteousness (Clav-happy smasher "Sekelimania (Nku Bilam)" and "The Sekele Movement") and laidback, Steely Dan style West Coast jazz-rock ("As Far As I Can Remember").
Review: 1979's Sory Bamba Du Mali was a masterpiece when it first came out, and that hasn't changed a single bit over thirty-five years later. Africa Seven are the ones to resurface this little gem of an album from the comparatively tiny corner of Africa's Mali, and it's very much in line with the rest of the wonderful music from that part of the hemisphere. "Mayel" starts off with a deep brass symphony guided by a mysterious wave of echoing guitar riffs and tribal chanting, but the following "Kanaga 78" is a moment of pure magic, a 4/4 groove with a nutty guitar and wild organ gliding with total freedom - recommended just for that. As you can imagine, the rest of this special album keeps on evolving with each new track, and from ritualistic, percussion-heavy dances to exotic rhythms, this is a must have. Don't even think of getting the original for less the L500.
Review: Africa Seven continue their rich vein of releases this year with an indepth exploration of the Tala A.M. discography. Those unfamiliar with the Cameroonian's story will be shaken by the adversity he lived through before going on to enjoy a successful music career; blindness and the death of both parents afflicted him as a child. However Tala Andre Marie's love of music was his guiding light, as was Cameroonian icon Manu Dibango who helped him relocate to Paris and thus began a recording career consisting of no less than 13 albums! African Funk Experimentals 1975 To 1978 sees Africa Seven dip into the Tala AM archives for a ten track presentation of his funkiest cuts during the early years of recording for the Fiesta label. "Hot Koki" is a particular treat, whilst disco selectors will love "Sugar Lump".
Review: You can just tell a bunch of record diggers are behind Africa Seven; it's only been going since the turn of the year, but already the Paris-London label is shaping up to be an important name in the world of archival afro funk. Hot on the heels of that Manu Dibango reissue, Africa Seven turn their attentions to the self-titled album from his compatriot Jo Tongo. If you liked Tongo's contribution to the Africa Seven compilation African Airways Volume 1 you should be all over this eight track album, originally issued in 1976, and still a long player oozing with afro funk style. Recorded in both French and his native Duala language and featuring production from legendary Parisian funk/disco/afro soundman Slim Pezin, it is a perfect example of 70s funk meeting afrobeat with African folk styles and flavours.
Review: Africa Seven's second tribute to the "funky sounds of female Africa" is packed to the rafters with gems. While some of the material may be familiar to those digging Afro-funk, disco and boogie - see Oby Onyioha's breezy boogie sing-along "Enjoy Your Life", the similarly awesome early '80s dancefloor pressure of Nayanka Bell's "Just A Boogie" and the gnarled disco-rock pressure of Christy Essien's "Nobody Can Stop You" - the vast majority of tracks are not only little-known, but also simply essential. Our picks include the disco-reggae bounce of Bebe Manga's "Lokognolo", Theodora Ifudu's Teena Marie style disco-boogie workout "This Time Around" and the spiraling heavy funk pressure of Diane Solo's "N'Ziketio".
Review: There's a slightly different feel to the latest instalment of the fantastic "Africa Airways" compilation series. While previous instalments have largely focused on heavy Afro-funk and Afro-soul, this fifth edition showcases material recorded during the disco and boogie era (1976-82). The ten included tracks are superb, with highlights including the fuzzy, Clavinet-driven thrills of "Sweet Sidney (Edit)" by Black Bells Group, the heavy grooves and dancing synth lines of Gyedu Blay Ambolley's "Highlife", the spacey Afro-boogie badness of Fotso's "French Girl" and the flash-fried disco-funk celebration that is Jide Obe's spacey, Moog-sporting "Too Young". As the old cliche goes, this is all killer and no filler.
Review: To date, each volume in Africa Seven's thrilling Africa Airways compilation series has been little less than essential. It goes without saying that this fourth instalment is also exceptionally good. Whereas previous volumes have focused on Afro-funk and "Afro-psych" (think Sly Stone, Nigerian style), this set drills down into African disco-funk released between 1976 and '83. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the solo-laden, slap bass-boasting bounce of Tala AM's "Get Up Tchamassi" and Charly Kingson's squelchy, synth-laden Blaxploitation number "Nimele Bolo", to the righteous, piano-driven thrills of Kemayo and K-System's brilliant "Biram" and the superior boogie business of Jake Sollo's "Tinini Yasana".
Ifang Bondi & The Afro Mandingue Sounds - "Atis-A-Tis" (4:38)
Sory Bamba - "Kanaga 78" (4:55)
African Black - "Nzango" (7:02)
Bunzu Soundz - "Zinabu" (3:21)
Messi Jacques & Les Dissoumbas De Libreville - "Onga Ben Ma Na Mene Mebua" (6:18)
Ofo & The Black Company - "Allah Wakbarr" (3:26)
Damas Swing Orchestra - "Odylife" (2:20)
AKA - "Shake Me" (5:32)
Manu Dibango - "Ceddo" (5:06)
Review: The Africa Seven label might not have been around for very long, but the London-Paris dynasty has certainly established itself as a no.1 outlet for rare, unhinged world music. This is Africa Airways Volume 3: The Afro-Psych Excursion, a gorgeous compilation spanning the years 1972 to 1984, and it clearly offers some of the most magnetic tunes that they label has put out thus far. There isn't a mediocre song in here and, as the saying goes, it's all-killer-no-filler; take African Black's "Nzango", for example, a twisted, FX-heavy tribal experiment, or the more soulful highs and lows of tunes like "Zinabu" by Bunzu Soundz. Rough, dusty, completely psyched-out, and inimitable the whole way through; if you're looking for something that'll get the heads turning, and the diggers jealous, then this is your LP. Highly recommended.
Bozambo - "Bgklouala Niklouala" (Redpine & Solo edit Over dub) (6:05)
Review: Crate-digging reissue specialists Africa Seven has decided to flip the script on this fantastic album, asking a range of contemporary producers to "re-imagine" a string of rare soul, funk, Afrobeat and disco jams. Thrillingly for those who remember the original West London broken beat scene, the comp contains some killer "bruk" revisions - not least Silkie's brilliantly fluid and groovy take on Ekambi Brillant's "Soul Castle" and EVM's rolling, Bugz in the Attic style revision of M'Bamina's "Mosi Zole". Elsewhere, Appleblim delivers a typically fuzzy and bass heavy rework of Sorry Bamba, Dj Food chops up Sookie's organ-laden funk slammer "Rhythm on Rhythm" an IDM heroes Plaid join the dots between vintage African jazz and woozy electronica. In a word: superb.
Letta Mbulu - "Kilimandjaro Take Us Higher" (4:55)
Uta Bella - "Enyin" (3:46)
Mona Finnih - "Ani Kewa Jo" (6:23)
Cida Desvarieux - "Nou Ke Sa Inmew" (4:29)
Christy - "Time Waits For No One" (3:14)
Akofa Akoussah - "Tango" (3:02)
Carmen Ezumah - "Tala Tala" (2:24)
The Lijadu Sisters - "Danger" (5:50)
Bakambi N'Kela - "Kilimanjoro" (3:46)
Miriam Makeba - "Xica Da Silva" (5:17)
Review: Following the success of their Africa Airways series, London's Africa Seven introduces a new compilation focusing on some of the continent's most recognised female artists - and even some underrated heroines. The under-acknowledged musical contribution that African women have given to the funky sounds of Africa are celebrated here. This release will coincide with International Womens Day, and indeed what a tribute. Features the diggers delight "Kilimandjaro Take Us Higher" by South African songstress Letta Mbulu, some smokin' hot Nigerian boogie by Mona Finnih on "Ani Kewa Jo" and Miriam 'Mother Africa' Makeba with the sultry slo-mo groove of "Xica Da Silva". Makeba is known equally for her musical contributions as she is in fighting the apartheid and becoming a UN Ambassador.