Review: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.
Qu'est-Ce Qu'il A (D'Plus Que Moi Ce Negro La?) (4:30)
Hot Voodoo Dub (7:45)
Review: Legendary musician, DJ and broadcaster Philippe Krootchey was a hugely influential creative whirlwind throughout the 70s and 80s in France. Founder of Love International, frequent Casablanca collaborator with the likes of Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Mathematiques Modernes and an active member of France's foremost gay rights groups, his political and creative messages were clear in every action he made. Originally released in 1984, "Qu'est Ce Qu'il" carries a strong anti-racial message with humour that worked so well he re-sang it English and it eventually became "Whatazzy". Flip for "Hot Voodoo Dub" to find his creative messages as a studiosmith were also very clear.
David Tapfuma - "Magamba" (Esa Zimtronix Direct mix) (5:19)
Review: This compilation style outing from Southern African music enthusiasts Nyami Nyami is billed as "an ode to the music of Zimbabwe past and future". Side A boasts cuts from two Bulawayo-based "Kwela" outfits: a terrific, heavily percussive future dub interpretation of Bulawayo Kwela's "Mysterious Africa" by The Comet Is Coming producer Danalogue, and the sparse, sun-kissed acoustic bliss of Elliot Phiri's "Nomalanga". Turn to the flip for two versions of Hararre-based David Tapfuma's beautiful "Magumba". There's the original version, where Tapfuma sings over a solo mbira melody, and a superbly glassy-eyed, synth-heavy 21st century club version by Auntie Flo collaborator (and hugely talented producer) Esa Williams. As good as the rest of the EP is, his version is worth the admission price on its own.
Review: These days, Hanad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hanad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: Bruno Hovart, Favorite Recordings' man of many talents, is at it again here. He's the man at the controls on this debut album from Pat Kalla, a French vocalist of Cameroonian heritage who has previously contributed to Hovart's Voilaaa records. Backed by Lyon band Le Super Mojo and with Hovart conjuring up his authentic '70s style production, Kalla lays down a string of superb songs that variously touch on Afro-disco, soul, Highlife, Juju, accordion-fired Cameroonian dance music of old and the kind of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tropical fusion so popular in former French colonies in the Caribbean. It's a wonderfully joyous and breezy set, and certainly worthy of your attention.
Review: PMG reissue Kelenkye Band's Moving World LP. In 1974, Augustus Kerry Taylor gathered the hottest musicians in Ghana and recorded an album of the heaviest, funkiest, American influenced music. He designed the cover with Fela Kuti and even released it on his own label. Moving World according to PMG 'is a funky, disparate album that exudes a rare warmth, enthusiasm and togetherness.' Of the album, Accra's leading DJ, Charlie Sam declared his mind 'well and truly boggled.' Although the band was comprised of some of the city's finest musicians, they never recorded another album. Augustus Kerry Taylor shut down the label and went back to designing album covers. But on the Moving World LP, they delivered something that many recognise as a seminal moment in '70s Ghanaian groove.
Review: Naturally, the great Fela Kuti or more recently, people like William Onyeabor usually get all the praise when it comes to the topic of Afrobeat and anything remotely funky from central Africa. However, what many fail to realise is the sheer quantity of untapped gold deep in the heart of those countries and King Bucknor Jr is inarguably very much a part of that hidden treasure chest. 1979's African Woman, also known as The Black Isaiah Of Africa, is a record that holds a mythical status for many, and it's safe to say that for the few lucky diggers who own an original copy of this record, Hot Casa's reissue probably isn't that welcome. However, how could anyone ever deny a fellow music lover of a tune like "Woman Nature" or "Mr Debtor"? The former owns the sexiest percussion roll available on our charts at the moment, not to mention the King's raw and loose vocals, whereas the latter heads deeper into the groove, coming through with a beautifully dubwise groove to fill the air. So hot!
Review: Charlie Kingue Soppo, known simply as Charly Kingson, is a legend of afro-funk who managed to shake the entire continent up with his infamous 1978 LP, Born In Africa. Often forgotten when conversations turn to Afro-dance, and the likes of Tony Allen or Fela Kuti, he has been an incredible source of inspiration to many musicians exploring the funkier side of jazz-dance, and this album itself goes way beyond any traditional notion of tropical discotheque. In fact, tracks like "Makakane Masu" verge on the soulful and the poppy, while "Born In African" itself is a funky groover for the dancefloor. All in all, this is an album which was dying for a re-release, and now you can enjoy it courtesy of the wonderful Africa Seven outlet. Boom!
Review: It would be fair to say that Kokoko! are not just dragging the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the 21st century, but also pushing it forwards towards the future. That much is proved by this essential debut album, a set full to bursting with thrilling fusions of Kuduro style electronics beats, lo-fi analogue electronics, traditional Congolese instrumentation, hand-played percussion polyrhythms and basslines so weighty they could crush an average-sized person. It's an arresting audio blueprint that guarantees thrills from start to finish. Highlights include the hot-stepping dancefloor sleaze of "Azo Toke", the foreboding, polyrhythmic 21st century punk-funk of "Malembe" and the intergalactic brilliance of "L.O.V.E.".
Donny McCullough - "From The Heart" (Kon's Multi remix) (6:33)
Taxie - "Rock Don't Stop" (3:32)
The Mazyck Project - "More Power To You" (4:39)
The Edge Of Daybreak - "EOB (Edge Of Daybreak)" (4:01)
Shake - "Lost In Space" (5:12)
Oby Onyioha - "Enjoy Your Life" (6:18)
Bomp - "Disco Power" (4:57)
Christy Essien Igbokwe - "You Can't Change A Man" (3:57)
Harry Mosco - "Sexy Dancer" (6:37)
Goddy Oku - "Dont' Ask Me" (5:37)
Review: BBE unearth another batch of rare and underexposed disco cuts on Off Track Vol 3. Compiled by the crate digging New York/Boston based duo Kon & Amir, the release gives an authentic representation of Brooklyn’s ghetto, funk and afro music scenes. Sophisticated tracks for real music heads