March 30, 2009

Africa Mbonda

In an earlier post I have expressed my surprise about the lack of information on the www about Johnny Bokelo. There has been no improvement since, and it seems unlikely there will be in the near future.

So we have to rely on our ears for information.
This record is a good as any starting point. Released in Kenya in 1988 it does tell a story about the mechanics of Bokelo and his orchestra. The first track gives an immediate insight into his influences. The song kicks off with a rhythm resembling the 1987 TP OK Jazz song "Tala Merci Bapesaka Na Mbua"; the vocals are definitely influenced by Pepe Kalle. The influence of Franco has been predominant in the whole of his career and, like Franco, Bokelo has moved with the times. When, in the 1980s, Franco incorporated the successful vocal sound of Empire Bakuba's heavyweight star by moving Madilu to the foreground, Bokelo followed...
If you listen carefully you will detect some influences from the east of Africa; most notably in the singing in the second track. Bokelo catered for the considerable following he had in those countries.

This is not Bokelo's best lp, but in my opinion it still manages to beat the majority of the records that have been released since.

KVL 5007


Juan Carlos said...

excellent LP, thanks for this contribution.
Unfortunately some information is hard to find bokelo ,recently its son BLITO, I publish a video in youtube.

Juan Carlos

zim said...

there's some discographic information here,

which includes a pretty complete listing of the singles he did on editions mbonda, which were put out by melodica in Kenya.

WrldServ said...

@Juan Carlos: Very nice video! Thank you!

@zim: I was referring more to biographical information. Over the years I have only learned snippets about his life. But there seems to be no 'big picture'.
But thanks for the link anyway!

Anonymous said...

one of my favorite artists!
thanks for this
wuod k

jan duinkerken said...

Hello, I tried the link provided by ZIM, about the Kenyan Bokelo singles, but unfortunately it didn't work.

Mukolwe said...

There was a second version of Navanda Ndumba released by melodica. Anyone with a copy to share?