Trying to decide our first release was a long drawn out affair. Everyone had their favorites…. Would it Manu, Tala, Ray, Jake or Jo? In the end we just couldn’t decide. To keep the peace we settled on a taster compilation called “African Airways Vol 01”. Think of it as a statement of intent. A sample of aural treats in store. As for the cheesy name, well... we like African Music, who doesn’t like air hostesses? and we are aeroplane geeks. It was a no-brainer really.
Volume 1 of Africa Airways focuses on the funkier side of 70s African music. We can’t think of any better way to start an African compilation than some pounding, powerful, masterful African drumming. Thank you Ekambi Brilliant, you sure know how to set up an opening track. Next up we jump to the Cameronian king of the Tchamassi dance, Tala Andre Marie (Tala AM is his snazzier moniker). “Black Gold” is a track that really says it all. Cant-sit-still grooves, masterfully jangly guitars and a really cool nascent use of synthesizers. Is it possible to play a song over and over again 300 times? – we think so. Elvis Kemayo is next up with the funky assault. Big brass, big basslines and happy times. Cameroonian native Jo Tongo, now lives in New York but back in the 70s he was part of the Fiesta label massive who were cranking out great records in Paris. “Jangolo” is quite possibly his finest moment. Keeping things Cameroon to finish up side one is the Saxophone master Manu Dibango. “Mimbo” is jazzy, darty gem. Manu recently turned 80 and celebrated with a series of gigs. A true afro legend with over 30 albums to his name. Quite a few have never been re-issued since the 70s and they are now patiently queued up on our release schedule.
Opening side two of our vinyl is Jo Bisso. Give It Up is a funky, brass however from 1977 on the Disques Esperance label. Next up is “Mbongui”. Did you think a flute in African music could sound this funky? Nigerian Jake Sollo met with an untimely death but his music lives on. Jake was a leader of one of the first wave of funky afro bands to come out of Nigeria in the early 70s, “The Funkees”. “Father Time and Mother Nature” retains all those key elements of what made his band so successful. Sookie are next up with their US style funk… but with an African twist. To finish up the LP Paris based “African Soul Band” bring out the dark strings, chanted Senegalese vocals and mirroring marimbas for their epic closer “Nande” from 1978.