September 28, 2009

Achille Johnny

I know absolutely nothing about this artist, but his name evokes visions of Belgian sporting legends, or comic book heroes.

Achille Johnny.....
....The first Belgian to cycle around the world. Or the threefold winner (in consecutive years!) of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Or the hero of "Achille Johnny et la collusion diabolique".

Reality tends to be more prosaic, - but maybe (or hopefully) not in this case. A quick search reveals that our Johnny has gathered some fame for his song "Mede Woui" (which can be found here), a wonderful slow ballad of the haunting dramatic kind.

One of these two singles contains a similar (but maybe not as haunting) slow ballad, titled "Kou We Mi Djo Na". The B-side "Johnny A Une Femme" features a song with references to - presumably - winning the national lottery, which suggests that Johnny's good looks weren't enough to get him hooked up...

The second single is less spectacular, but nevertheless pleasant. I like the guitar, but the drummer should have been recorded in another room.

Disques ISB SBL209002
Disque Sachey DN No.1

PS: does anyone (Oro?) have a photo of Johnny?

EDIT: and here is (a small version of) the sleeve, supplied by the ever helpful Zim.
I have to admit I am slightly disappointed....

September 27, 2009


I have digitised this album from cassette a while ago, but hesitated posting it because I don't have - and can't find - the sleeve. The quality of the copy is not a problem, as I am sure you will agree. I am slowly even becoming more and more convinced that cassette copies have a better survival rate than the vinyl originals...
To compensate for the lack of sleeve, I have decided to add a second record to this post. Vinyl, - so with sleeve.

Both "Kweya" and "Djalenga" are compilations, the first from Polygram Kenya and the second from a presumably British "Swahili" label (of which I have only seen this record). The Kweya compilation contains some real jewels, including the extraordinary "Jua Lako" by Moja One and "Dunia Hakuna Bingwa" by Ibeba System (you can read about the complex relationship between some of the bands in this compilation on muzikifan's site). The title song by Orchestra Virunga is a curious example of the use of a drum machine.

Although I have found no confirmation for this, I strongly suspect the band named as Les Lashow is led by Lessa Lassan, who has two tracks on the "Djalenga" compilation. He seems to have looked for musical inspiration with Tabu Ley. The "Djalenga" songs are enjoyable, but I favour the one on "Kweya".

Super Lovy, with Vicky Longomba's son, is another band with ties to Moja One and Ibeba. Their "Etali Yomoko" is not one of their better songs, if you ask me.
'Odd ones out' in these two compilations are Sam Mangwana on "Kweya" with "Masai", in the unique relaxed Mangwana style (I like the ox imitations at the end), and "Nimesha-Kwambia" by Super Wanyika on "Djalenga", - a great track for long busrides.

POLP 561*
12 SWAH 001

* come to think of it, it is likely the number should be 551, as Muzikifan states.

September 26, 2009

Deep Horizon

Here is one of those rapid posts.

This cassette of Jonah Sithole and his band The Deep Horizon was given to me by the artist himself, when he visited Amsterdam in 1996, a year before his sad demise (see my earlier post).
I don't wish to sound stubborn, but despite efforts by others to push this great artist into the mist of oblivion, to me Jonah is still one of the Greats of Zimbabwean music. Not just the man himself, but Thomas Mapfumo too has pointed to him as the 'inventor' of mbira-guitar in the Chimurenga music of the Blacks Unlimited. And who am I to argue with 'the horse's mouth'?

This wonderful cassette by Jonah's own band was recorded in the mid-1990s, and has - as far as I know - never had a global distribution.

L4 RTLP 115 or L4 RTLP 115

More Jonah to follow in a later post....

September 23, 2009


I have to admit I am not very good with religion. Over the years I have come to the conclusion I am just not the believing, the submissive or the worshipping kind.

But should I ever - for reasons I can not imagine at this moment - get the urge to repent, it is very likely I will turn to Islam.

For one thing, they have better music than the competition.

And with this post I am presenting some very convincing evidence of this thesis. Yes, you have guessed it: it's another album by that master of Apala music, Haruna Ishola. From a time (mid-1970s) when he had not yet, I assume from the absence of the "Alhadji" adjective, done his duty as a muslim to travel to Mecca.

This is another great lp, and again a monument of African music. My favourite part of this record is the part on side B when after about 9 minutes the chorus seems to get disengaged from the lead vocal. It may seem like an imperfection, but it's just the kind of imperfection that makes this music perfect......


September 22, 2009

Twenty years ago

You may wonder why I have not been posting in the last couple of weeks. Well, I have been putting my feet up, - but strictly for medical reasons. I have had some surgery done on my foot, and was therefore distracted from sitting behind the computer. And after that, I had a lot of catching up to do both family- as well as workwise.

I will try and make this up with a few 'rapid' posts, i.e. with a minimum of textual interference.

And the first of these is a referral to a YouTube posting by friend Aboubacar Siddikh of a recording I can - even after (exactly) twenty years - barely listen to. It is the last live performance of that immortal legend of African music, Franco. The fact that he decided to play in this song ("Chacun pour soi" by Josky Kiambukuta) which he had used on previous occasions as a kind of 'pièce de résistance', made the whole scene even more tragic.
Listening to the frantic attempts of this once all-powerful giant was one of the most painful moments in my personal musical memory.

Please note the superb photos made by Ton Verhees. And read Aboubacar's notes.

In the next few weeks I will dedicating more posts to Franco and his legacy (probably with some of the 15 Years Ago and In Memoriam series, plus some singles).