This album by Franco and his O.K. Jazz was released by Polygram Kenya in 1986 as the third volume of a series entitled "Fifteen Years Ago". And for this album the title is not completely inappropriate. As far as I can deduce, only "Où est le sérieux?" (with Sam Mangwana) is definitely from a much later date than 1971.
It seems wise to be cautious in dating songs of this period, as it is not always clear which was the 'original' release (the Congolese or the French) and as tracks were (seemingly) not always released in the order in which they were recorded.
The album is, like the others in this series (Volume one can be found in this earlier post), a collection of tracks previously released only on singles. And as such there are some real 'marvels of the past' to be enjoyed on these volumes.
Such as Franco's version of "Maseke Ya Meme", a song by his brother Bavon Marie Marie which must have provoked some emotion with Franco, who felt at least partly responsible for the death of his younger brother, as the car accident in which Bavon was killed was a result of the fury after a row between the brothers. Franco sings the song together with Youlou Mabiala (photo on the right), who also played a part in the events leading to the accident. Bavon had accused him too of getting too friendly with his girlfriend.
As the first volume was centered around Vicky Longomba, in this third volume the focus is more on Youlou. Vicky is, however, present in "Makambo Maneno", although in a modest role. His presence suggests, by the way, that the track is from an earlier date than the others.
Youlou contributes two composition to this album*, and is vocally present in all of the tracks except the 'misplaced' "Où est le sérieux?". His singing is great, and I especially like the combination with Michel Boyibanda in Boyibanda's "Osabote Jean Jean" and "Andu Wa Andura". But my favourite track is composed by Armando Brazzos. "Sukola Motema Olinga" is one of those (many) special tracks that you can listen to again and again and still discover new details. Particularly the interplay between Franco's lead and the rhythm (Brazzos) and bass never seems to sound the same. Note the way in which Franco leaves the last word in this track to Brazzos.
* the first of these, "Sentence" (or "Sentence Ya"), is credited to Kwamy on Sonodisc CD 36603. Given that Kwamy is either almost inaudible or simply not singing in this track, and that Youlou has very clearly the lead role, I think the credits on this album are more likely to be correct.
Great Abaraka – Great Abaraka EMI
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