It is exactly 72 years ago today that one of the greatest stars of African music was born in Sona-Bata, Congo: François Luambo, who within 16 years became a phenomenon in Congolese music and whose 'stagename' Franco even today, nearly 21 years after his death, is inextricably linked to modern Congolese music and African music in general.
As an ode to this grand master I would like to share with you this rare album, released in Côte D'Ivoire on the Disco Stock label.
I can assure you it is pure coincidence (ahum) that the album has an orange sleeve.....
The lp contains twelve tracks from the 1950s. Although the title of the lp is "Le bon vieux temps de l'O.K. Jazz" ("the good old days of the O.K. Jazz"), there is in fact one track which was recorded in the time before the foundation of the O.K. Jazz. "Elo Mama" (titled "Mama Elo" on this lp) was released in March 1956, i.e. three months before the birth of O.K. Jazz. Just nine months later the O.K. Jazz produced such miraculously brilliant tracks as "Venga De Priza" (called "Del Prison" on this lp). And again nine months later they gave birth to "Linga Ngai Tolinga Ye" (erroneously titled "Linga Ye To Oling Ngai" on this lp), a bolero which has occupied a steady position in the top of my favourite songs for nearly twenty years now, followed two months later by "Zonga Vonvon Melancolie" (mauled into "Mboka Yo Okeyi Mosika" here). Both tracks contributed to Franco's status as the real and undisputed sorcerer of the guitar, who was capable of touching emotional strings others had even never heard of.
The 'most recent' of these compositions, all by Franco himself by the way, is from January 1959, and is proof of the subtle maturation of Franco's guitar playing. "Mbongo Na Ngai Judas" ("Judas" has disappeared in the title on the lp), no doubt about the silverlings which Judas received for betraying Jesus, is actually the A-side of another out-of-this-world composition by Franco: "Ndokoyo" ("this sorcerer").
Some of these tracks were released (and generally in a better quality) on various lp's on the African label, but songs like the ones I mentioned more than amply make up for the redundancy of those.
After more than 23 years of making radio programmes I am seeking new ways to share my passion for African and Latin music. My intentions are 100% non-commercial.
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