Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here are a few selections from some disco boogie funk records that were found at the bottom of a dumpster behind Mr. Ree's Nite Club in Accra, resting peacefully under some rotting lamb shanks and an abandoned fetus or two. Had to pull a knife on some german DJ who was circling like a vulture -- luckily no one was hurt.  Cover star: Rato Venance.   (Zip file is at the bottom of the post)

JO TONGO - PIANI (Jangolo, 1976)

"Jojo L'Explosif" grew up in Douala, Cameroon. At age 13 he was given a guitar by his uncle and within 2 years he had skyrocketed to the head of his high school band. Papa Tongo was not amused, however, and he immediately shipped his son off to Paris to prevent him from competing in the annual Battle of the Bands held by the Cameroonian government. Jo dabbled in accounting and pharmaceuticals for a few years before finally saying to hell with Dad. He started playing with the best African musicians in Paris, including Manu Dibango and Francis Bebey, and soon developed a funky sound that garnered him the battle name of Jojo L'Explosif.

JM TIM & FOTY - YE MALE (JM Tim & Foty, 1978)

FOTSO - FRENCH GIRL (7-inch, 1978)

BONGI MAKEBA - DON'T DO IT (Blow On Wind, 1979)

Born in South Africa, the daughter of legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba. She began her career as a member of Bongi & Judy (with Judy White, daughter of blues guitarist and singer Josh White), and released only one solo album, on Plane Records, in 1981. "I was born to live, and I will live until the the day I die" she sings here. Only four years later she would die at age 35 following complications in childbirth. Some of her songs can still be heard in her mother's repertoire.

SONNY OKOSUN - LIVING MUSIC (Living Music, 1977)

Hailing from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Sonny served several years under the tutelage of Victor Uwaifo before starting his own band, Ozziddi, in 1972. See this previous post for an amazing documentary on Sonny from 1979. According to recent reports he is now seriously ill from a colon infection and is seeking treatment in India. Our thoughts are with you, Sonny.


PAT THOMAS - YESU SAN BRA (Pat Thomas, 1980)

A native of the Ashanti Region of Ghana, Pat learned the guitar and drums from his uncle Onyina who had played with Nat King Cole, Miriam Makeba, Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald. In the early 70s he was a member of The Blue Monks, the resident band of Accra's Tip Toe Nite Club (which still exists). He later formed the Sweat Beans Band, an extremely popular group during the Kutu Acheampong Era of government (1972-78). Pat was crowned Mr. Golden Voice of Africa in 1978. This track is very reminiscent of of K. Frimpong's "Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu", the greatest Ghanian song evah evah.

CORA FUNK - SABUMA - (Cora Funk, 1978)

Featuring Fode Drame and Lamine Konte. The latter transformed the playing of the 21-string kora thanks to his ceaseless experimentation on the complex instrument. He also contributed to film scores including a collaboration with Stevie Wonder on The Secret Life of Plants soundtrack.

GEORGES HAPPI - MONICA (Blue's Back Home, 1977)

Explosive meeting between the famous Nigerian drummer and Eddy Gustave, the saxophonist, arranger & producer from the French West Indies. The result is a crazy boogie funk production with a fat driving bass, pushing trumpet, guitars and smashing drums. See our previous post for a mellow mindblower from this album.

KEMAYO & K. SYSTEM - BAMI BAMI (Tam Tam Song, 1978)

Recorded in France by the part-time Cameroonian guitarist & full-time wardrobe stylist. Squint your eyes and pretend he's wearing a long skirt that's split open in the front, and then prepare for your own clothing to split open when you hear this insane track.

NEL OLIVER - HI-FI WOMAN (Hi-Fi Woman, 1976)

Oliver's career began in Benin with the band Ryda-Jazz in the late 60s. From there he moved to Paris, releasing his first solo album there in 1976. In the early 80s he became the first black African to open a recording studio (called Spade Music) in Paris. Nel returned to Benin and has spent the last 15 years building the local music industry there. He produces many of Benin's young performers as well as established artists like Castella Ayilo, Amagnon Koumagnon, Kinmagnon Agberhounkpan, and Klingon Cromagnum.

UTA BELLA - NASSA NASSA (Nassa Nassa, 1980)

"What gives this Cameroonian the strength to continue despite the difficulties? It's her first motivation: to help her continent Africa fight against famine, diseases and extreme poverty. She feels that she has a mission on earth, a mission that God entrusted her. Isn't the disc that she just recorded the chance to do good actions? Already, she had sung at a Red Cross gala in Paris, and for Le Secours Populaire Francais in Norway".


A native of the Cape Verde islands off western Africa, Jovino Dos Santos enlisted the help of Voz De Caboverde and his pal Luis Morais to record this politically-charged album dealing with the plight of the the former Portuguese colonies. It includes a sarcastic 'ballad' to Henry Kissinger in which he asks "Tell me Henry Kissinger, you're the peacemaker, you're the man of words and spirit, what can you do?". (We now know the tragic answer to that question).


During the sixties Rato sang in teen bands all over West Africa. In 1973 he left the Ivory Coast for Europe and became the founding member of Bozambo, one of the hottest African groups in Europe in the 1970s. Later in France he initiated a movement that led to the establishment of the Centre Paco Rabanne, the foremost place in Paris for African music and culture.


Mid-tempo jazz funk, recorded and pressed in New York for exportation back to the Ivory Coast.

VEWONYI DD - AGBEMENYAWO (La Nouvelle Etoile, 1981)

Recorded in Togo and produced by A.A. Maikano, who later produced Amadour & Mariam's 1999 album "Se Te Djon Ye".

ONDENO - MAYOLYE (Maracas D'Or 1981, 1980)

Gabonese singer on Ledoux Records.


Anonymous said...

hey thanks for the afro disco tracks. just downloaded and they sound great so far.

gavin said...

Nice selections here, thanks. Also liked the Voodoo Funk (german dj) reference ;)

aduna said...

Very good job! Thanks a lot.

Alex O. Williams said...

you have no idea how pissed I was when I arrived 3 days late and all the records were gone. I'd been circling the wrong dumpster, after wasting 50 bucks on bogus information. so of course I really appreciate the samples of what I missed. this is hot shit. Fotso, Uta and Sonny made my favorite music, but the album art here should go up in the halls of Ponytone Museum. especially the Kemayo & K. System, Jo Tongo and Jovino Dos Santos.

Frank said...

Why you gotta do me like that... and then adding insult to injury by spreading the details of my defeat all over the internets... you're a bad man!

Joshua said...

Genius discoveries! Came here looking for info on Jo Tongo, and found the motherlod of tunes. Many, many thanks.

Anonymous said...

If the German DJ got these they would have ended up on ebay for $1000-$2000 a pop. Thanks for sharing.

Nana said...

Glad you got them and not the greedy German dj. That guy is a hoarder and doesn't want anyone else to have this music for some reason. I am from Ghana and would love for the rest of the Western World to discover our rich musical history. When I have the means, I plan on one day posting a treasure trove of classic Highlife and Afro Beat online that will hopefully put smiles on many faces and get some needed recognition for our brothers.

paco13 said...

very good song!! i searsh this lp if you want trade i have,thx

commet said...

That "German DJ" is a prick. Happy to hear you acquired the LP's instead of him for once.

Anonymous said...

Glad someone different acquired these records for a change! Fetuses? Argh.

DJ Carlito said...

great blog-- im inspired to travel more! i wil certainly be playing these on my radio show in coming weeks ... as well as teh thai, viet, and turkish stuff! thanks again!

kosmikino said...

Authentic unknown afro-disco straight from the original crates into the hands of a music lover and cultural benefactor who then freely shares these 'one of a kind' tracks to everyone who can get online...now there's a story you don't hear every day ;)

Has that day come for Nana (a couple of comments up) to start or have started posting his Highlife and Afro tracks?

It is great to hear music not simply filtered through western compilation albums and yet all somehow of the Ponytone trans-dimensional sonic library.

And the link is still active...how rare is that?