Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One 1974-79 (2006) [Analog Africa No.2]

analog africa

analog africa

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band

Take One (1974-79)
Analog Africa No.2
2006, Alula Records (ALU 2002)

What a thing of beauty this disc is! Africa during the 1960s witnessed a host of incredible bands that came to prominence playing their music in the dim afterthoughts of colonialism, the sweat and smoke-filled corners of leisure found in places like rail stations, hotels, and bars funded by the capital of heavy industry. The latter was the case for the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, which formed under the direct incentive of a Zimbabwe copper mine looking for a good band to keep its workers satiated and spending their money. This compilation from the Analog Africa label presents their story in words and music from inception to collapse, with an informative and entertaining essay by Samy Ben Redjeb, amazing photos and graphic layout, and a good mastering job. Redjeb details how the band had been assembled by trumpet player Daram Karanga who convinced a handful of the area’s best musicians to relocate out into the middle of nowhere for this gig. They had been peppering their sets with Afro-rock and funk of the type popular in Nigeria and Ghana at the time, and the mine workers just weren’t going for it. Noticing that people went bat-shit crazy when they played traditional music from Zimbabwe, they pretty much invented their own thing, crafting a sound that was, as they say, `way ahead of its time.` The band saw a lot of different musicians go through their ranks in a relatively short span of time. The most famous of them is singer and drummer Thomas Mapfumo, but all of the players are overflowing with talent here.

Every song on here is a gem. Jumping out at you with the propulsive kick drum beats, the uptempo cuts foreshadow much of the African music to emerge over the next twenty years. Of particular importance is the guitar work of Joshua Hlornayi, who played angular, staccato melodies broken up by clean-toned chord voicings – this is miles away from the way guitar was being used by most bands in West Africa at the time. The combination of frenetic guitar, slower and more sparse bass guitar lines, and drums heavy on the kick drum and stick work on the snare, all contribute to a sound that I can only manage to describe as “circular.” This rhythmic frenzy is accomplished without the help of the variety of percussion usually associated with African music, restricting themselves to a simple drum kit and guitars. Above the frenzy soars the brass, with wonderful work from Daram Karanga and saxophonist Robson Boore in beautiful arrangements. The infectiously melodic vocals are consistently impressive on this collection also (although it is a shame that I can’t understand a word of it). Take a song like “Murembo” — it is wickedly complicated, with gorgeous vocal harmony intro starting things off, when then changes its structure just as an instrumental arrangement crawls out from under it and begins playing a trance-inducing lope through the rest of the tune. The liner notes by Redjeb (for which he also conducted a few interviews) can be somewhat confusing when it comes to names and recording details, but a look at the detailed discography and personnel list on the last pages of the booklet show us just what kind of raw material he had to work with when trying to summarize the HCR band. This is a record that I liked immediately on first listen, and began to love soon afterward, and I never seem to get tired of the material. If you can track this down, pick up a copy and support Analog Africa for the wonderful work they do.

analog africa

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One 1974-79 (2006) in 320kbs em pee twee

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One 1974-79 (2006) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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0 Comments

  1. Oh, this is very good stuff. I remember this band from the Thomas Mapfumo comp on Shanachie. Thanks for sharing this Vibes!

  2. PASSWORD IS:

    vibes

  3. I’ve had this for a while and it didn’t jump out at me as much as Analog Africa’s Green Arrows compilation, but your post inspired me to give The HCRB another listen and I’m glad I did. This music is pure joy!

  4. Glad you gave it another shot, Michael. And I know what you mean too — it didn't quite leap out of my speakers at first either. Like I said above – I enjoyed it right away, but then I came to *love* it. And yeah, the Green Arrows disc is the shit! I was actually going to put that up here first and go all chronological, but I didn't have that one 'ready' yet by (my) blog standards. Pretty much everything these guys release is golden, although I've been less impressed with African Scream Contest than a lot of people seem to be.

  5. Wonderful!!
    Great blog!!
    Could you post the Orchestre Poly-Rhytmo de Cotonou comp from Analog Africa?
    Thanx!!

  6. Great post!!
    Do you have the awesome Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas compilation?
    Thank you anyway for the great blog!

    Jim

  7. hey man, great post! don't know this one yet. african scream contest is one of my faves, though. so this is bound to be amazing… best wishes from berlin

  8. just for the record: i do own quite a few aa releases and keep giving them away as presents. excellent label, wonderful work, indeed! i got to know analog africa through a blogpost like this, so i guess they should be happy…

  9. hey Likedeeler, thanks for the kind words. And yeah, I would hope A.A. would be happy. I almost felt a twinge of remorse or reluctance at posting this, but I honestly think the people who would buy their work would go out and do so anyway, because there is nothing quite like having the real deal in your hands to look at and listen to. In fact I have friends who have bought up the vinyl pressings and have merely taken advantage of my digital presents to have a more convenient way to listen to them while traveling, etc..

    And also, in the country I have been living in for the last two years, their discs are just not available (or, if you can find them in the one or two cities where that might be remotely possible, they will be ridiculously over-priced due to crazy import taxes here). So I really do believe in the educational capacity of blogs like this.

  10. listening to a beautiful record now… thanks!

  11. thank you. it's running over & over here.

  12. Is the password still vibes? for some reason it is not working for me. Thanks!

  13. yes, hasn't changed..

    a) make sure you have the complete archive, if its broken it won't open no matter what
    b) do not cut and paste. you have to manually type passwords
    c) if you are on a Mac, certain software applications are dodgy with WinRAR archives, so look into trying a different one

  14. thanks muchly. yep, i do have some guilt about downloading but that's tempered by costs and availablity. also i get to "review" – haven't dissed a disc yet.

    greetings from oz (via papua new guinea)(via china some other life ago)

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