Saturday, September 02, 2006

Abstract Index playlist - Aug 16/06

Sorry for the summertime spaceout... But I'm back as JB with Full Force would say.

A few weeks ago Toronto was graced by three Thomas Mapfumo in one week. I know he likes Toronto, he’s been to town a good half dozen times in the last 15 years. There have been tremendous events like his headlining Afrofest in a thunderstorm of three mbiras (literally and figuratively), and not so memorable gigs where the kaya took over completely. I met him some years ago and he is a regal figure whose eyes burn into you. However, my indelible image of him will always be at the late great Apocalypse Club (now El Convento Rico) engaged in a furious tabletop game of Ms. Pac-Man. The Lion of Zimbabwe wasn’t about to let Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Sue get in his way.

He’s slowed down his pace over the years, but his new-ish album Rise Up is still worthwhile.

I went back to the beginning of his recorded career in 1974 with the aid of the crackin’ new label Analog Africa, who’ve compiled much of the recorded output of the outstandingly monikered Hallelujah Chicken Run Band. They were named such because of Mapfumo and fellow member’s work at the local chicken supply depot. Both this disc and that of the Green Arrows, which made another appearance on the playlist this week, are sterling examples of the indestructable beat of Zimbabwe as the times changed to a more revolutionary climate. Both discs feature twin guitar action as their most beguiling element. This is African punk, folks - too basic a comparison, to be sure, but there's a universal energy and urgency about two guitars, bass and drums kicking it for 3 minutes at a time (even though live this would go on much longer). HCR doesn’t snarl out of your speakers, but it would become chimurenga (“struggle” or “resistance” music) within a couple of years, where the guitars interpolate the mbira rhythms of shona music and the vocals become explicitly political.

Mapfumo only lasted a year and a half with this band before hooking up with the equally well-named Acid Band, and later the Blacks Unlimited which is his ensemble name to the present day. Murembo was the first song ever released in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe with explicitly political lyrics, and created a sensation. But the main guitar riff would have created a sensation anywhere.

maha-samana - john mayer (vocalion)
ya fama - toumani diabate's symmetric orchestra (nonesuch)
go to hell mr. bush - skerik's syncopated skronk septet (hyena)
morceau d'amour - mahala rai banda rmx by nouvelle vague (crammed)
murembo - hallelujah chicken run band (analog africa)
is there any love - trevor dandy (numero)
ronco da cuica - da lata (compost)
island song - prince lasha/sonny simmons (contemporary)
para los romperos - bio ritmo (locutor)
de coco y anis - cortijo and his time machine (mp)
carmelina moderna - los pleneros de la 21 (smithsonian folkways)
no delay (bullitt) - green arrows (analog africa)
a big car - jackie mittoo (soul jazz)
live and learn - alton ellis (heartbeat)
for the good of man - meditations (wackies)
beneath the valley - burning babylon (mars)
lonely soldier - dub guerilla (enja)
final frontier - creation rebel/new age steppers (on-u sound)
survival dub - dr. israel (ROIR)


Post a Comment

<< Home