April 16, 2009

Assalam Aleikoum

A double helping this time. These two volumes were compiled from singles originally released by the Société Ivoirienne du Disque (SID), a company founded in 1974, only two years before the release of these lp's. There's quite a bit of information on the back covers, so I'll concentrate on the music.

If you listen to these albums you won't be surprised when I tell you I prefer the second volume. It's not just because I am not looking for "songs ranging in influence from jazz styles ... to rock .. to the songwriting skills of rock's poets .. to soul, r&b and reggae". I got bored with that at about the same time when these lp's were released.
It's also because the second volume has far more variation in styles than the first.

Having said this, I would like to add that there is plenty to enjoy on the first volume. I like the ballad by Guéhi Jean et les Super Banty's de L'Ouest, and I love the two songs by l'Ivoiro Star, especially the jumpy "Dogbo Zo N'Wene". "La Guerre Et La Paix Ne Sont Pas Pareilles" by Théodore Boumbhé is amusing rather than nice (although I like the guitar), but it helps if you don't listen to the French lyrics.

Antilles AN 7032

The second volume gets off to a great start with a great track by Amadée Pierre and his Ivoiro Star. Amadée (who also featured on the Ivoire Retro lp I posted earlier) is one of those artists who has few weaker songs, and I will certainly post more of this Ivorian star in the future.
Besides artists from Ivory Coast the album contains four tracks by stars from other West African countries: Moussa Doumbia from Mali with his version of "Samba" titled "Yeye Mousso" (I love the shouted chorus), Guinean guitarist Kouyaté Sory (more of him coming up soon!), Nigerian butcher (I'm not kidding!) Yekini Aremu and his apala group (no match for the likes of Haruna Ishola...) and Guinean (?) singer Fanta Sakho.

The remaining tracks - all from Ivory Coast - are also very diverse: there is a great Ghanian style ballad and a contrasting track in an uptempo typical Ivorian beat, both by Bony Pascal & Les Cantadors de la Capitale and a track in lingala by Jean Raph et Les Zoulous, who have clearly listened to a wide range of Congolese bands.
The last two tracks are traditionals taken from Bété folklore, - but also two very different songs.

Antilles AN 7033

PS: I'm not too sure about the relevance of the album titles in a country with less than 40 percent Muslims....

13 comments:

icastico said...

Thought this would be worth sharing...from Robert Christgua

"ASSALAM ALEIKOUM AFRICA VOLUME ONE (Progressive and Popular Music of West Africa) (Antilles) Unlike John Storm Roberts's Africa Dances anthology, this LP and its companion come from one location--Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Thus, they're a little limited. On this one, the same musicians tend to reappear in different permutations, and their interests are more specifically "progressive" than "popular" (which can mean almost anything in a place where folk culture still thrives). That is, they like horns--great sax break on the catchy "Dogbo Zo N'Wene"--and are fascinated by electric guitars. Something called "Ode to Hendrix" is pretty remarkable, as is the title cut and much of Charles Atagana's bass playing, but the same cannot be said of "Live in Peace," which clocks in at a progressive 11:39 and supports neither its length nor its English lyric. Even the middling music here is interesting by definition, and a lot of it is more than middling, but some of it is less. B [Later]

ASSALAM ALEIKOUM AFRICA VOLUME TWO (Traditional and Modern Folk Music of West Africa) (Antilles) Once again there's a key word in parentheses--"modern." A lot of this would seem to be popularized folk music in the manner of the Weavers if not the Kingston Trio, which might bother an ethnomusicologist or a tribal loyalist but needn't concern ignorant people like you and me. Basically, this is a selection of time-tested melodies translated into our (musical) language--and translated roughly enough to convey authenticity, since what passes for slick in Abidjan wouldn't last a hairdresser on Lenox Avenue till coffee break. B PLUS "

WrldServ said...

And who, if I may ask (and I am not trying to be ironical), is Robert Christgua? Where can we read his opinion?

icastico said...

You can read the Dean of Rock Music Critics here...

http://www.robertchristgau.com/

Probably best known for his work with The Village Voice.

John B. said...

I've had these two albums for some time and thought they should see the light of day again. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I must say:
Thank you,thank you,thank you....
What a wonderful music!!!!!
Best wishes from my heart.
kostas from Greece.

Pieter said...

I've been enjoying the first volume for a long time, and got the second one last summer (Thanks, Zim!). A wonderful variety of styles, makign you wish for many more volumes!

Robert Song said...

Thank you so much for this.
I have had the track from Vol 1 You Dji N'Indje by Martial Droubly & L'Ivoiro Star on a cassette that I recorded from a radio show of mine from 1981 and because I didn't catalogue it properly at the time, I have never known what the title or group were. It is a fantastic track and now I know. You have made my day.

Thanks again for the albums and also for the great blog.

Ambiance Congo said...

Thanks for these. I have seen these albums from time to time, but never the track lists. It is great to have the opportunity to listen to them. By the way, this is my very favorite blog. Your choices are always top notch.
David

Ambiance Congo said...

Volume 2 is an interesting album!
Here we have Kouyate Sory Kandia from Guinea, Fanta Sacko from Mali and Jean Raph Loumbe from Congo in the mix.
I have to say I much prefer Volume 1, though, with its, as you point out, progressive music. NICE!
Thanks again.
DavidN

aduna said...

Comment dire merci? How to thank you? 2 superbes albums!!! Merci, Thanks...

brooos said...

Thanks for posting these. I found vol 2 years ago at a yard sale, but vol. 1 has been elusive. (I recall going in a record store once and seeing a friend of mine with it under his arm! Grrr). Anyhow, your blog is no doubt the best of the many, many blogs devoted to sharing African music on the web. Can't say enough thanks for all this!

WrldServ said...

@Ambiance Congo: Thanks for compliment.
But I'm afraid I have to correct you. It is not Kouyaté Sory Kandia, nor is this the Fanta Sacko from Mali (but the Fanta Sakho from Guinea, as a Guinean friend claims with great certainty - or Senegal, as the cover states).

Ambiance Congo said...

Yes. I did leave a comment before listening to the entire album! I was later very surprised to hear a woman singing on that one track.
David