Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Heads Up

If you like the music of Somalia's Iftin and Dur Dur, featured some time ago in this space, let me direct your attention to Andreas Wetter's new blog Kezira, whose latest post features a whole cassette by Dur Dur, recorded some time in the early 1990s.

As Andreas tells it, the developing civil war in Somalia forced the group across the border to Ethiopia, where Africa was recorded and released by Elham Video Electronics in the provincial town of Negele. Vocalist Sahra Dawo, who has drawn raves hereabouts, features on several tracks.

While I'm at it, let me comment on the current state of the African music blogosphere, whose quality has advanced dramatically in the last couple of years. Notable in this regard are three sites -
African Music Treasures, Electric Jive and World Service, whose proprietors regularly grace us with their knowledge and insight. This is not to slight outstanding work also by Oro, Global Groove and Freedom Blues, whose copious postings of hard-to-find recordings have forced me to buy a new hard drive. I'm overwhelmed really - I just haven't had time to listen to all the great music that's come my way, thanks to these busy beavers.


kreismyr said...

Haha, the "i've been thinking about you" cover comes as a surprise!

kreismyr said...

On second thought i think its actually a mistake - and that what we're hearing is the London Beat original. It sounded kind of like somali funk because of the cassette sound!

kreismyr said...

It is labeled "Ethiopian Girl". I probably should have brought it up to Andreas but i couldnt find a comment space on his blog.

John B. said...

You're right about the poor quality of the cassette, but I still think it's Dur Dur doing a pretty accurate cover of "I've Been Thinking About You." For one thing the organ is more prominent in the mix, also the little guitar phrase that follows the singer every time he says "I've been thinking about you."

kreismyr said...

Maybe you are right, it really beats me! I did put forward the question to Andreas just now.

Regardless, it is a great tape! The jumpin Halk Somalka Dumatra has to be my favourite.

John B. said...

You know, after listening to both versions a few times, I think your initial impression may be correct. For one thing, the guitar solo in the middle of the song begins at about the same point (2:20) and the vocalist comes back at the same time (2:30). So yes, it could be the London Beat version of "I've Been Thinking About You," squashed by a bad cassette dub, inexplicably put in the middle of this cassette issued in a provincial Ethiopian town.

That said, despite the poor sound quality, aren't these songs great (and thanks to Andreas Wetter for bringing them to the light of day)?

Last I heard Sahra Dawo & some other members of Dur Dur were living in Columbus, Ohio. As I presume the master tapes for their cassettes (and those of Iftin as well) are long gone, wouldn't it be great if someone could get a band (by which I mean a real band with guitars and horns, not crappy synthesizers) together and re-record their songs in a proper studio?

Any record company executives reading this, take note. That's something we could use more than yet another Afro-Funk compilation or another deracinated "World Music" platter.

nauma said...

Kuku is up!welcome.

Leti said...

what a great discovery! i love it! it's really very nice! I was also surprised by "ethiopian girl"!

Sanaag said...

John, thanks a lot for the link. Otherwise, I'd have missed it. Good weekend!

Andreas Wetter said...

thank you very much for mentioning my blog! I didn't have the time to react earlier because of a move to another city. But Sanaag already gave some very substantial comments to the post.

Sanaag said...

I didn't pay attention when I was here a while back. Durdur actually covered several songs in English and I think their "Ethiopian Girl" is a genuine cover of London Beat's "I've Been Thinking About You". Durdur's version is a bit longer than the original and I recognize the voice of the singer, Muktar Ramadan. Here he's covering Tracy Chapman "Mountains O'Things" with a Somali title "See Saa" ("That is it"):

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