In 1970, the turn of the decade saw some decisive events in the history of the O.K. Jazz. Franco himself about this period in an interview in 1986: "I was a shy person at the time. But what do you want? I had friends in the OK Jazz that left and returned, and left and returned. And at a certain point I said: "Stop! If you leave, you leave for ever." And when they had gone for ever, I tried to organise the O.K. Jazz my way" "A coup, yes. Because, although shy, with them going one day and coming back the next, I said "Stop!", and tried to organise things my way. Je me suis imposé."
I can't help but thinking that after the attempts that were made to end the reign of the OK Jazz in the second half of the 1960s (Orchestre Révolution - see this post and this post / Verckys' attempt to lure away half of the orchestra in 1969 - post coming up), it was not surprising that the number one singer Vicky Longomba started looking for some securities.
In 1969 he followed in the footsteps of Verckys and founded his own record label, rather unimaginatively called "Viclong". Apparently he did this in total harmony with Franco, because the first recordings on this label were with the O.K. Jazz, and with Franco.
At a later stage, after the break-up with Franco, Vicky released the recordings of his own Lovy du Zaïre through this label.
But in this post I would like to share three of the Viclong singles of the OK Jazz with you.
The first of these is also the first record released on the label. It contains, like the other two singles in this post, two songs composed by Vicky. The A side, "Nakosala Nakolota", is a good example of Franco's talent as a backing vocalist, or 'second'. It is a side of Franco which unfortunately has remained somewhat hidden in the writings and releases of his work.
While the A-side may be seen as a demonstration of harmony between Franco and Vicky, "J'Ai Trompé Mon Amour", the B-side, can be seen as proof of Vicky's independence of Franco. It is a remake of a song Vicky recorded (probably in 1962) with his own Negro Succes and released on the Esengo label (see this post).
Unfortunately the quality of this single is rather poor.
African 90.318 [Viclong VC1]
Luckily the quality of the second single is a lot better. It contains a downright impertinent version of the Cuban classics "El Carretero", renamed "A Moins Que Namikosa", and subsequently claimed by Vicky. Franco is at it from the word "go", and remains unstoppable throughout this brilliant interpretation. On the B-side Vicky is backed by Lola Djangi, a.k.a. Chécain, a - in my opinion underrated - singer with a voice with a built-in dose of sadness and nostalgia (who will certainly also be subject a future post).
African 90.452 [Viclong 20]
I regret to say the last of these three singles is again rather scratchy. The A-side "Mbanda Nani A Gagner?" is a ballad sung solo (and beautifully) by Vicky, with some very nice sax (by Musekiwa? or Rondot? or whom?), and no noticeable Franco, - although I keep expecting Franco to 'impose' himself...
"Nasomba Mwana Naboti?", which was released (and fortunately in a better quality) on Sonodisc CD 36586, compensates for the absence of Franco's guitar on the A-side. Backing Vicky is Michel Boyibanda.
I like the songs Vicky later made with Lovy, but to me they can not compare with the songs Vicky made when he was with Franco.
African 90.468 [Viclong VC 23]
More Franco coming up soon.