Echoes From Another Century #1: Afro, Soul & Jazz Reissues


Aleke Kanonu – Aleke

Reissued by Austrian’s PMG, this album is something of a holy grail. Theo Parrish has gushed over it’s tight, bass heavy grooves, and it’s easy to see the influence the record has had on his own production. Recorded and released in 1980, the album finds Kanonu drawing together afro rhythms, disco, funk and dubby vocal effects for 4 tracks of perfection. Considering originals change hands for upwards of 500 quid, it’s little surprise that the first repress of this sold out in a matter of days. Now PMG have announced another run is set to drop mid – late September. It’s almost certain that it’ll sell out again, so keep an eye on the PMG Bandcamp to get the best deal on the repress when it finally emerges. This record is too hot to let pass…

Harry Mosco – Country Boy / Sahara All Star Band- Sahara All Stars of Jos

While we’re on the subject of PMG, the label’s got two more serious releases dropping in September. Harry Mosco’s record is some ’78 disco boogie outta Nigeria. Mosco is best known for the track Country Boy that gives the album it’s title. As it happens, the light reggae of Country Boy pales in comparison to the one-two punch of opening tracks It’s Too Late and I Feel Funky, both serious dancefloor heaters, and worth the admission price alone. The Sahara All Stars Album is a more trad afrobeat affair, complete with social messages and wicked horns. The wah guitar and syncopated drumming on World People are serious, and remastered with incredible clarity.

Dorothy Ashby – Dorothy Ashby

Ashby is best known for the sample gold of her 1968 Afro-Harping album, a record that combined gargantuan drumbreaks with Ashby’s nimble jazz harp. This, her eponymous 5th LP released in 1962 is less well known, but still comes with its moments; the cascading harp melodies descending into noir-ish atmospheres on opener Lonely Melody could come straight from a vintage Hitchcock comedy thriller, the samba break at the start of Secret Love is begging to be sampled, Booze is a hard swinging, swirling and loose-limbed dance track that suggests Dorothy may have had a complicated relationship with the sauce, and Django a sombre, beautiful meditation with the harp pushed to the fore. Reissued on Audiophile clear vinyl, I’d probably not suggest this as the first Ashby album you’d get (that award still goes to Afro-Harping) but it nonetheless has plenty to offer   

Yoruba Singers – Black Pepper

Australian label Left Ear have come up with the goods on this repress. Black Pepper was originally recorded by Guyanese band Yoruba Singers in 1975, as a good time slice of Afro-Latin funk. The band then revisited the track in 1985, given it the requisite 4/4 disco kick drum, and polishing up the production. Both versions are gems, although Left Eye have (probably correctly) reckoned that it’s the ’84 version that’s going to have most impact with DJs today, and stuck it on a booming 12”. In all honesty, I wish they’d stuck the ’75 original on there as well, but as the records were relesased on two different labels, who knows how labyrinth the licensing would have got. Rush Hour are handling the distribution of the 12”, so this should be available (in limited supplies mind) all over the place as of now.

Odion Iruoje – Down to Earth

The ever reliable Soundway have come through with a genuine oddity. Iruoje was a Nigerian super producer from the 70s through to the 80s. Famous for having signed Fela Kuti to EMI, Down to Earth was Irujoe’s own obscure solo album, a collection of songs where the producer explores a range fo styles – apparently whatever was was fascinating him at the time. The result is a record that combines conscious lyrics, proto hip hop, New York boogie, heavy afrobeat and dub. Some of it’s not quite there (the rap opener Identify With Your Root is a bit to bargain bin Grandmaster Flash for my liking) but further in, the record is packed with impeccably produced afro-boogie, all tight percussion and chopping guitar licks. Phonica have got it in stock along with soundclips here

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