Normally I wouldn't even bother to listen to an artist with a nickname like "Benin's Godfather Of Funk". Luckily, in the case of El Rego I was not aware of this label until after hearing his music. So I was able to enjoy it without all kinds of distracting associations and preconceptions.
Sorting through his extensive output I have come across some more noteworthy tracks, which I would like to share with you.
The first of these is "Mando Homin O", a dramatic ballad sung by El Rego himself, accompanied by a lingering accordeon (bonus points!!) and a ditto guitar. The B-side of the single, "E Nan Man Nuku", is in a similarly enjoyable non-funk style.
Albarika Store ASB 24
In the second single El Rego and his Commandos only act as a backing group to Togolese singer Germaine Jourias, who in a surprisingly dowdy voice sings the praise of her president, and late runner-up (after Gabon's Omar Bongo) in the list of African dinosaurs, Étienne (or Gnassingbé) Eyadéma. While I gather Eyadéma was not averse of a bit of flattery, I just don't get that feeling of sincere happiness and joy when hearing Germaine's eulogy. In fact, I would go as far as stating that she seems far more at ease in the song on the B-side.
Albarika Store ASB 33
The third single again sees El Rego in an accompanying role, in this case behind Charles Rodriguez. For more details about this singer I glady refer you to this post on the Analog Africa blog. In the interview he recalls working with El Rego: "Anyway I did some "chansons Francaises" and he (El Rego) backed me with his band Les Commandos." But in these songs El Rego is not with Les Commandos but with Les Astronotes. I am not sure what this means, but I assume Benin experts like Oro will be able to clear this up.
"Felicité", on the A-side of this single, is clearly meant as a cover of "Para Fifi", one of the classic hits from the 1950s by le Grand Kallé and his African Jazz. Halfway the song wanders off into another song, again probably modelled on a Congolese merveille du passé.
The B-side is called "Conseil Présidentiel", but is not in french. This song appears to be about the presential council consisting of three men, which took power in Dahomey in 1970, until they were forcefully removed by Mathieu Kérékou in 1972.
Whatever the lyrical content, the music is (again) notably devoid of any traces of funk...
Aux Ecoutes AE 010
Great Abaraka – Great Abaraka EMI
5 days ago