Review: There's a slightly different feel to the latest instalment of the fantastic "Africa Airways" compilation series. While previous instalments have largely focused on heavy Afro-funk and Afro-soul, this fifth edition showcases material recorded during the disco and boogie era (1976-82). The ten included tracks are superb, with highlights including the fuzzy, Clavinet-driven thrills of "Sweet Sidney (Edit)" by Black Bells Group, the heavy grooves and dancing synth lines of Gyedu Blay Ambolley's "Highlife", the spacey Afro-boogie badness of Fotso's "French Girl" and the flash-fried disco-funk celebration that is Jide Obe's spacey, Moog-sporting "Too Young". As the old cliche goes, this is all killer and no filler.
Bozambo - "Bgklouala Niklouala" (Redpine & Solo edit Over dub) (6:05)
Review: Crate-digging reissue specialists Africa Seven has decided to flip the script on this fantastic album, asking a range of contemporary producers to "re-imagine" a string of rare soul, funk, Afrobeat and disco jams. Thrillingly for those who remember the original West London broken beat scene, the comp contains some killer "bruk" revisions - not least Silkie's brilliantly fluid and groovy take on Ekambi Brillant's "Soul Castle" and EVM's rolling, Bugz in the Attic style revision of M'Bamina's "Mosi Zole". Elsewhere, Appleblim delivers a typically fuzzy and bass heavy rework of Sorry Bamba, Dj Food chops up Sookie's organ-laden funk slammer "Rhythm on Rhythm" an IDM heroes Plaid join the dots between vintage African jazz and woozy electronica. In a word: superb.
Letta Mbulu - "Kilimandjaro Take Us Higher" (4:55)
Uta Bella - "Enyin" (3:46)
Mona Finnih - "Ani Kewa Jo" (6:23)
Cida Desvarieux - "Nou Ke Sa Inmew" (4:29)
Christy - "Time Waits For No One" (3:14)
Akofa Akoussah - "Tango" (3:02)
Carmen Ezumah - "Tala Tala" (2:24)
The Lijadu Sisters - "Danger" (5:50)
Bakambi N'Kela - "Kilimanjoro" (3:46)
Miriam Makeba - "Xica Da Silva" (5:17)
Review: Following the success of their Africa Airways series, London's Africa Seven introduces a new compilation focusing on some of the continent's most recognised female artists - and even some underrated heroines. The under-acknowledged musical contribution that African women have given to the funky sounds of Africa are celebrated here. This release will coincide with International Womens Day, and indeed what a tribute. Features the diggers delight "Kilimandjaro Take Us Higher" by South African songstress Letta Mbulu, some smokin' hot Nigerian boogie by Mona Finnih on "Ani Kewa Jo" and Miriam 'Mother Africa' Makeba with the sultry slo-mo groove of "Xica Da Silva". Makeba is known equally for her musical contributions as she is in fighting the apartheid and becoming a UN Ambassador.
Review: To date, each volume in Africa Seven's thrilling Africa Airways compilation series has been little less than essential. It goes without saying that this fourth instalment is also exceptionally good. Whereas previous volumes have focused on Afro-funk and "Afro-psych" (think Sly Stone, Nigerian style), this set drills down into African disco-funk released between 1976 and '83. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the solo-laden, slap bass-boasting bounce of Tala AM's "Get Up Tchamassi" and Charly Kingson's squelchy, synth-laden Blaxploitation number "Nimele Bolo", to the righteous, piano-driven thrills of Kemayo and K-System's brilliant "Biram" and the superior boogie business of Jake Sollo's "Tinini Yasana".
Ifang Bondi & The Afro Mandingue Sounds - "Atis-A-Tis" (4:38)
Sory Bamba - "Kanaga 78" (4:55)
African Black - "Nzango" (7:02)
Bunzu Soundz - "Zinabu" (3:21)
Messi Jacques & Les Dissoumbas De Libreville - "Onga Ben Ma Na Mene Mebua" (6:18)
Ofo & The Black Company - "Allah Wakbarr" (3:26)
Damas Swing Orchestra - "Odylife" (2:20)
AKA - "Shake Me" (5:32)
Manu Dibango - "Ceddo" (5:06)
Review: The Africa Seven label might not have been around for very long, but the London-Paris dynasty has certainly established itself as a no.1 outlet for rare, unhinged world music. This is Africa Airways Volume 3: The Afro-Psych Excursion, a gorgeous compilation spanning the years 1972 to 1984, and it clearly offers some of the most magnetic tunes that they label has put out thus far. There isn't a mediocre song in here and, as the saying goes, it's all-killer-no-filler; take African Black's "Nzango", for example, a twisted, FX-heavy tribal experiment, or the more soulful highs and lows of tunes like "Zinabu" by Bunzu Soundz. Rough, dusty, completely psyched-out, and inimitable the whole way through; if you're looking for something that'll get the heads turning, and the diggers jealous, then this is your LP. Highly recommended.