It is 23 years ago today that I, like many other mélomanes, was shocked to receive the news of Franco's death in Namur, Belgium. And in writing I am tempted to add "only". For in many ways it seems like no time at all has passed since the tragic day of October 12, 1989.
I am referring (once again) to the lack of progress in 'uncovering' Franco's legacy, in making available the treasures that so far have not been re-issued since their first (analog) release. Still the majority of the HMV/Loningisa catalogue remains hidden from the global audience, only a fraction of the Epanza Makita recordings have been reproduced, and less than half the wonderful tracks released on the Surboum OK and CEFA labels. And I could go on...
On this EP from 1964 alone there are - at least* - three songs that have so far escaped digitisation. Three songs which on their own would amply merit a release on CD. And not just for the fact that no less than two of the three are in the musical style which seems to fit Franco like a glove: the bolero.
The A-side contains two songs composed (and of course sung) by Vicky Longomba, while those on the B-side are composed by Franco lui-même. Needless to say that the two boleros are hot favourites on this record, with Franco at his dramatic best on guitar in Vicky's composition and addressing the Congolese/lingalaphone masses in the intriguing "Biloko Bihati Ntalona". This song is especially intriguing as it follows "On A Osé Le Dire", which can be translated (rather badly, I admit) as "They have dared to say it". Apparently the person who is being addressed in the song has been accused of using sorcery ("fétiches") against the singer, or rather the person represented by the singer. And the singer is gradually starting to believe that these rumours are true.
To add to the intrigue, I have the impression that "biloko" may refer to malignant dwarf-like creatures, which the Mongo people believe roam the dense forests and are considered to be the spirits of ancestors of the people living there, - according to this article in the wikipedia.
Perhaps someone who does understand lingala can help us out...?
Pathé EG 763
*I am not sure if "On A Osé Le Dire" has appeared on CD. I can't find it right now, but it is possible I have overlooked it...