Sunday, May 8, 2011

Africa 50 Years of Music: A Sampler

In late 2010 the good folks at Sterns Music, announced a new box set entitled Africa 50 Years of Music 1960-2010.  For those who follow such things this was not surprising. For one thing Africa is the source of an unparalleled wealth of music and so putting together collection that covered all regions of the Continent seemed just about the perfect way to skim the surface of the subject.  For another thing, Sterns Music, based out of London, has been one of the most consistent and oldest champions of African music in the world.  Who better to produce such a set? What was surprising about the box set was the price tag: a meagre 65 British Pounds!  For 18 CDs, 183 tracks, 17.5 hours of music, this was (and remains) a steal!

The Washerman’s Dog was lucky to get in on the initial rush and just a few short days before Christmas the package showed up in the mailbox.  Very shortly after the initial announcement the box set sold out.  It remains so today. No doubt Robert Urbanis at Sterns will be happy to take your order and fill it just as quickly as the CD factories can spit out the little digital donuts, but in the meantime, the  Washerman’s Dog has put together a sample of the musical diamonds and rubies that await the discerning purchaser.

The set includes 3 CDs each from North, Central, East, South, West and Lusaphone Africa. The range of singers and bands is mindboggling and Sterns has made sure to mix some of the Continent’s most famous artists/songs with those likely to be completely unknown to all but the most obsessive fan. And the compilers attempt to showcase as many countries as possible works wonderfully. For the Washerman’s Dog money some of the absolute stand out tracks on Africa 50 Years of Music 1960-2010 are from countries like Madagascar and the Comoros Islands.  Holding this musical universe together is a beautifully written and reproduced booklet (in French and English) that places the music within a narrative framework of Independence, disillusionment and renaissance.

Believe me, there are many ways to squander your disposable income. This box set is NOT one of them. Indeed, this collection should be considered an investment  and is an ESSENTIAL part of everyone’s music collection. Like a storied chest of treasure, you can keep coming back again and again and never run out of gems.

            Track Listing:
1.     Viva Komoro (Abou Chihabi) [Comoros Islands]
2.     Transberos (Sam Mangwana) [Zaire/Congo]
3.     Eka Lahy (Regis Gizavo ) [Madagascar]
4.     Estin (Jose Carlos Schwarz) [Guinea Bissau]
5.     Tih El Téli (Hédi Habouba) [Tunisia]
6.     Mériam Maria (Ouled Jouini) [Tunisia]
7.     Mae Querida (Os Tubaroes) [Cape Verde]
8.     Paradiso (Konono Nº1) [Dem. Republic Congo]
9.     Yegelle Tezeta (Mulatu Astatqé) [Ethiopia]
10.  Kassim Amefilisika (Mlimani Park Orchestra) [Tanzania]
11.  Yeke Yeke (Mory Kante) [Guinea]
12.  Sweet Mother (Prince Nico Mbarga) [Ghana]
13.  Fièvre Mondo (Zaiko Langa Langa) [Zaire/Congo]
14.  Preto E Mi (Tito Paris)  [Cape Verde]
15.  Hakmet Aliha Darouf (Abdelaziz Stati) [Morocco]
16.  Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena (K Frimbong) [Ghana]
17.  Mulungelo (Hugh Masekela) [South Africa]
18.  Abantu (Soul Brothers) [South Africa]

Listen here

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