Pablo Lubadika Porthos – En Action: Ma Coco (1981)

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Pablo Lubadika Porthos
En Action – Ma Coco
Released 1981
Afro Hit Records Discafrique – DARL-019 (France)

1. Ma Coco
2. Mbongo Mokonzi
3. Madeleina
4. Bo Mbanda

Pabulco Lubadika Porthos – composer, arranger, vocal, guitar, bass
Lea Lianzi – lead vocal
Jo John Mboutany – backing vocal
Master Mwana – congas, guitar
Domingo “Salsero” – drums, percussion
Manga Jerry – Trumpet
Priso – sax
Roger Kom – sax

Photo by DRAME BAZOUMANA

Produced by Sonny Dick
M’Bahia Jean-Charles – manager
Richard Dick (!) – “executive producer”

Recorded at Studio Laguna, Paris.  An “International Salsa Musique” production

PABLO, Lubadika Porthos

(b 1950s, Zaire) African singer-composer, bassist, guitarist. Played in the 1970s with bands including Kin Bantous, Lovy du Zaire, Groupe Celibithou, Orchestre Kara; to Paris to play with Sam Mangwana and the African All-Stars on classic ‘Georgette Eckins’, joined session musicians on Salsa Musique label, playing on albums by Pamelo Mounk’a, Master Mwana Congo, Assi Kapela, and pursued a solo career with albums of fast, sweet soukous: Concentration, Idie, Revient En Force, En Action. Tracks ‘Bo Mbanda’ and ‘Madeleina’ on Island label’s African compilation ’81 brought wider fame; played with Les Quatre Etoiles in London ’84, released first UK album Pablo Pablo Pablo ’85 on Globestyle. He was much sought after for sessions. There was a compilation Okominiokolo ’93 on Stern’s.

from from  http://www.donaldclarkemusicbox.com/encyclopedia/detail.php?s=2738

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2
cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio
Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click
Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe
Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX
Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&

Some
random crate digging lead me to this gem of early 80s soukous music and a
few others like it.  The guitars intertwine like go-go dancers playing
Twister at a ballet.   This is not to be missed, but since I don`t speak the
languages I can’t offer any insight into the lyrical content or context.  The vocals, sung in harmony throughout, are lovely and melodic, even if the melodies begin to seem a little overly familiar by the end of the second side.  The big hit on this record was “Madeleina” which offers a little of the best of everything.  It also showcases one of the unique traits of soukous – about which I know very little so indulge me for a moment:  it is a pop style, but one that has limitless patience to show you what it has to say.  It is uptempo but unhurried.  For those whose ears were first subjected to the strains of 80s “World Music” it may even seem oddly familiar, because in a way Soukous and Highlife conquered the world in that decade, reaching a global audience, and often being diluted and neutered by European and American pop stars incorporating them into their records.  Every now and then an actual African managed to garner fame enough to work up some ticket and record sales with non-African audiences.   It is not my area of expertise but I’ll go out on a limb and say that the popularity of African musics in Europe and the U.S. would not be possible without the vibrant immigrant populations and neighborhoods, whether in Paris, Notting Hill, or New York.  This particular album was recorded in Paris and released on the Afro Hit Records Discafrique label, with the “executive producer” / label guy / liner note author / redundantly-named man Richard Dick.

The drummer Domingo “Salsero” gets extra points for sheer stamina and the ability to fend off painful leg cramps from a pounding kick drum beat that never varies.  Drop the pitch on that drum a little and you would keep today’s club kids happy and giggling in Ecstasy for hours.  An interesting stylistic point is that the snare drums is barely used at all, being deployed only for fills.  The main beat is carried out strictly on kick and hi-hat, except for Madeleina which has a few sections where Domingo just rocks the fuck out on the snare.  In fact the centrality of the hi-hat to mark time leads to a technical problem with the vinyl.  As most vinyl enthusiasts have noticed, some records (in combination with some tone-arms and stylii) are prone to “inner groove distortion” where tracking the groove becomes a bit of a problem as the needle moves closer to the inner label, the end of an album side.  When IGD is present, the distortion is almost always in the forms of high frequency sibilance.  In this case, it sounds as if the hi-hat is in danger of coming loose from the drum kit, flying out of your speakers, and decapitating you on your sofa.  So don’t turn the volume too loud or that just might happen.  My cartridge can be prone to sibilance in the first place (as one obnoxious blog visitor pointed out), but usually it is only an issue with certain records and even certain pressings of certain records.   Some months after transferring this album, I realized
that an extra tenth of a gram of weight on the tone-arm could sometimes
help this problem, helping the stylus to sit better in the groove and hence track more cleanly, but by then I had already refiled the LP, done
preliminary processing (Click Repair and track division) and sort of
resolved myself to working with this as it is.  If I can remember to try playing
this album with a little more weight someday, maybe I will start all over
again on this one, but don’t hold your breath.  I am also not convinced the difference will be anything but minimal, as a lot depends on the quality of the recording and especially the pressing plants that made the records.  Sad but true, while many major-label albums are certainly known to give audio enthusiasts a headache with Inner Groove Distortion (there are lists out there!), the problem seems even more common with smaller labels who had lease resources, quality control, and/or access to first-rate mastering and pressing facilities.

Draft of an abstract, The Story of the Object, the Circulation of the Commodity, and the Inscription of Names: Globalization and African Music from Paris to New York.  Submitted by Flabbergast  to the Journal of Musical Semiology and Historical Materialism, Ikea Publishing House: Amsterdam.

This Pablo Lubadika Porthos album once belonged to Rex.  After he brought it home, Rex noticed that
the New York City shop where he purchased it was astute enough to put a
little sticker on the back cover advertizing its name and location.
Good business practice for an independent retailer specializing in the
importation of African music.  Realizing that he also had a
responsibility to future generations, Rex resolved to inscribe his own
mark for the aid of future music historians.  He did this with a big
thick magic marker on the front, back, and center labels of the album.
Like any fine artist, he set his work aside for a day or two to
contemplate it, putting it on an easel in the corner of the room where could gaze upon it while smoking cigarettes and eating jelly donuts.  The muse
whispered in his ear that the work was not yet finished.  Going to the
art supply shop, he bought himself a fine felt-tipped pen and came back
to his loft, where he set to work inscribing his name in his
characteristic, singular hand, in miniscule letters nestled inside the
lettering of the album title, and inside the back cover photo of
Lupadika.  In one final flourish, he signed and dated the inner label:
5/30/81.

At last the artist could rest.

More than 30 years later, an artificial intelligence on the internet named Flabbergast took it upon
himself to “restore” this artwork in Photoshop and remove all traces of Rex’s handiwork before further circulating the commodity in the accumulation of bandwidth. With the important exception of the inner label marking, which is permanent and irreversible.  In this act of inscription, Rex highlights how the erasures of colonial histories are resistant to the globalizing universalism of Late Capitalism.

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Thre Green Arrows – 4-track Recording Session 1974-79 (2007) {Analog Africa No.1}

This post is for Waltzing Matilda in São Paulo

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THE GREEN ARROWS
4-Track Recording Session
Released 2006 on Analog Africa
Original recordings made between 1974 – 1979

1 Mwana Waenda
2 Bambo Makwatila
3 Chitima Nditakure
4 Amai Mandida
5 Towering Inferno
6 Nkosi’s Intro
7 Chipo Chiroorwa
8 Dororengu Rinonaka
9 No Delay (Bullitt)
10 Nhengure
11 Infalilibe Chisoni
12 Madzangara Dzimu
13. 13 Nherera Zvichengete
14. 14 Musango Mune Hangaiwa
15. 15 Nyoka Yendara
16. 16 Hurungwe
17. 17 Chechule Wavala Botom
18. 18 Chimamuna Chamímba
19. 19 Vaparidzi Vawanda
20. 20 Wasara Wasara

This is a great compilation from the wonderful Analog Africa label. The first release in their catalog, it is put together with all the loving care you would come to expect — great notes, great research, amazing photos and graphic layout. Sound is good too. One weird thing is that the booklet refers the listener to their website to check out the lyrics, and the website — even in 2010 — is a placeholder with nothing on it. It is almost charming that they don’t give a crap about websites and instead focus on such amazing, dedicated PHYSICAL OBJECTS of their releases!

In the links you will find full artwork scans of the 20-page booklet in JPG and TIF. Lots of photos of the band posing around motor vehicles of some kind — cars, buses, tractors…

I don’t typically like posting reviews from other places, but I am busy writing other things today and this brief piece from the BBC is smart and succinct:

Garth Cartwright 2007-04-17

Zimbabwe is an African nation that is constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons: Robert Mugabe’s lethal grip on power, the collapse of the economy, brutal oppression of any individuals brave enough to challenge the ruling regime, absolute poverty and a soaring mortality rate. To think Zimbabwe was once a nation feted by the likes of Bob Marley and celebrated internationally for its fertile music scene!

Depressing as current conditions in Zimbabwe are this album reminds of how magical the nation once was and hints that the natural talent and ingenuity of the citizens will once again flower in a better future. The Green Arrows are now considered the most important musical act to emerge from Zimbabwe in the 1970s. Initially formed by Zexie and Stanley Manatsa in 1966, The Green Arrows rapidly rose to become (by 1970) the most popular bar band in Rhodesia (as the nation was then known). Stanley quickly developed into a superb guitarist whose sparkling, melodic playing continues to inspire today.

Nicknamed “wha-wha (=beer) music” as they made their name playing the large drinking dens the nation’s workers congregated at, The Green Arrows were the first Zimbo band to record an LP (in February 1976) and still hold the record for the longest stay at No 1 (with ”Musango Mune Hangaiwa” holding on for four months). This 20-track compilation covers their recording history from 1974-1979 and reveals a remarkably dynamic and imaginative band. While the drums-bass-guitar(s) line-up mimics Western pop-rock acts, the Manatsa brothers were inventive musicians who effortlessly fused traditional Southern African flavours with American influences. Superb sleeve notes from African music expert Banning Eyre make this a CD to treasure.

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

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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.

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