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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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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in 320 em pee twee


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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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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