Monty Stark’s only child, son Monty Jr. (those of you who have seen Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop will remember him as one of the children featured in the show’s educational skits) emailed us after his father’s passing and included a photograph of his father. The photo was touching: Monty in a candid moment, smiling and holding his young son somewhere in Boston, some forty years ago.
Since then, Monty Jr. sent us a few more of Monty and his pals, taken by his mother in the late 1960s and early 1970s. View the gallery:
Monty Stark Family Photos.
He’s best known by his first name, Fela. He’s certainly Nigeria’s most famous musical export. His name itself conjures images of 70s Lagos: a metropolis awash in the jubilation that swept in after the 1970 armistice in the civil war between the Nigerian Army and Eastern Biafran secessionists, a capital city in the midst of transition. This is the environment in which Fela and his Africa 70 popularized the hybrid of highlife, jazz and James Brown style, big-band funk he invented: Afro-Beat.
In Nigeria, his countrymen knew his music like Americans know Elvis. On foreign shores, a chosen few Westerners could claim to know the extent of Fela’s genius. As a result, while music historians have filled books with references to the influence of Westerners on Fela’s creation, little has been said about Fela’s inspiration on others. Thus, our compilation begins.
Fela’s music, and that of his organization inspired musicians across the global village when Afro-Beat was new and novel. This compilation focuses on the music Fela inspired – whether by fellow Nigerians recording alongside him in the early 70s, neighbors in Ghana, then-modern Colombian cumbia ensembles inspired by the man who injected a new feel into the Yoruban rhythms that formed cumbia’s base, Trinidadian steel bands or the select few organizations left that have maintained Fela’s fury in the new millennium.
This is but a cursory investigation into those inspired by Fela Kuti’s genius, but it is unique: the first time that many of these tracks are not only offered a second chance for worthy introspection, but, in the case of many, the first time they’re being issued full stop.
Compiler Egon has written extensive liner notes – and sourced never before seen Fela photos and other ephemera – for this project, included in the hardbound book that contains the CD and in a large-format booklet in the 4 x 10” vinyl box set.
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2010’s first quarter is shaping up to be a busy one, what with the Whitefield Brothers’ Earthology, our Fela-inspired comp Black Man’s Cry, the reissue of the Equatics’ brooding soul masterpiece Doin’ It!!!!, an EP by Dimlite, the Brazil Fuzz Guitar Bananas compilation we’re presenting with Joel Stones and, finally, our P.E Hewitt anthology…
But, when Jukka, drummer for the Soul Investigators and partner in Helsinki’s Timmion label, hit us up to ask if we wanted to release the forthcoming Myron & E 7″ in North America, we couldn’t say no. “It’s A Shame” will see release on February 2, 2010. More news soon.
By the mid 1970s, the Southern African nation known as the Republic of Zambia had fallen on hard times. The new Federation found itself under party rule. Zambia’s then-president engaged what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in a political fencing match that damaged his country’s ability to trade with its main partner. The Portuguese colonies of Angola to the West and Mozambique to the East were fighting their own battles for independence; conflict loomed on all sides of this landlocked nation.
This is the environment in which the catchy – if misleadingly – titled “Zam Rock” scene that flourished in 1970s Zambian cities such as Lusaka and Chingola emerged. Though full of beacons of hope for its numerous musical hopeful it was a tumultuous time and it’s no wonder that the Zambian musicians taken by European and English influences gravitated to the hard, dark side of the rock and funk spectrum. From the little of the Zambian 70s rock and funk music that has been spread via small blogs and bootlegs – the likes of Chrissy Zebby, Paul Ngozi and the Ngozi Family, and the devastating Peace – we learn that fuzz guitars were commonplace, driving rhythms as influenced by James Brown’s funk as Jimi Hendrix’s rock predominated, and the bands largely sang in the country’s national language, English.
The European and North American compilers that had, say, fallen in love with the wonders of Nigeria’s 70s scene via an introduction by Afro-Beat maestro Fela Kuti and decided to journey to Lagos to investigate further never even bothered to visit Zambia. Perhaps this is because even the largest of the 70s Zambian recording artists made any impact on the global scale. (Prior to reading this, had you heard of Paul Ngozi or his innovative Kalindua, Zambia’s equivalent of Afro-Beat?) Before 2000 – and infrequently since then – few Europeans or North Americans outside of university-funded ethnomusicologists more interested in the country’s folk musics than its pop culture even journeyed to this country in search of a the progenitors of the Zam Rock scene. And, when they did, the markers were few. Only a small number of the original Zam Rock godfathers that remained in the country survived through the late 90s, when the music recorded in Zambia became the next frontier for those global-psychedelic rock junkies searching for the next fix.
Now-Again, in conjunction with Zam Rock pioneer Rikki Ililonga, has licensed the WITCH repertoire from the ensemble’s last surviving member, Emmanuel Jagari Canda, and the Amanaz Africa album from the band’s Keith Kabwe and Issac Mpofu. Vinyl issues of WITCH’s Introduction and Lazy Bones and Amanaz’s Africa are out on Shadoks; CD issues licensed from Now-Again are planned for early 2010. In early 2010, Now-Again will present a Rikki Ililonga anthology. Plans are in the works for a proper WITCH anthology and a Zam Rock compilation.
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