Here, as promised, is Elimbi na Ngomo (Production TN, TN 591), Toto Guillaume's 1985 LP that is rightly considered a monument of the makossa genre. I agree that it's a masterpiece, but pride of place as Guillaume's "best" recording belongs, in my humble opinion, to Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404, 1983), which I posted here earlier. That said, there's little doubt that the title track, "Elimbi na Ngomo," is one of Toguy's most popular songs, remembered fondly by all Camerounians of a certain age.
Elimbi na Ngomo, makossa for the ages. Enjoy!
Toto Guillaume - Elimbi na Ngomo
Toto Guillaume - Bulu
Toto Guillaume - Raison
Toto Guillaume - Eh Oa
Toto Guillaume - Mulalo
Toto Guillaume - Ngila Nama
Download Elimbi na Ngomo as a zipped file here.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Back in the 80s Toto Guillaume ("Toguy") was a ubiquitous session musician on recordings coming out of Cameroun. The great guitarist and arranger first made a splash in the '70s alongside François Nkotti and Emile Kangue in the influential group Black Styl. His first solo hit "Françoise" was released in 1974, followed by "Mba Na We" in 1975. Together with the bassist and producer Aladji Touré, Manu Dibango, Emmanuel Nelle Eyoum and others, Guillaume played a pivotal role in crafting the modern makossa sound based on the traditional rhythms of the Douala region.
Among his albums, Toguy's 1985 release Elimbi na Ngomo (TN Productions TN 591) is justly famed, but I've always had a soft spot for 1983's Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404), with its lush strings and brilliant arrangements. A true pinnacle of makossa!
Makossa began to fade in the late '80s, a victim of its own formulaic sound, but for a time it was Congo music's main rival for the affections of African music fans. Toto Guillaume too dropped out of sight around this time, but I understand he's been making a comeback in recent years.
Enjoy Makossa Digital, and I promise I will make Elimbi na Ngomo available also sometime in the future:
Toto Guillaume - Mundende Mwa Bedimo
Toto Guillaume - Mulema Mwa Muna
Toto Guillaume - Bata Ba Nunga
Toto Guillaume - Paï 'a Nyambe
Toto Guillaume - Ewes' Am
And, because Makossa Digital, like most Camerounian releases of the era, is much too short, here's a "bonus track" from 1983's wonderful 3-disc compilation Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003):
Toto Guillaume - Seto Nyola
Download Makossa Digital (+ "Seto Nyola") as a zipped file here.
A technical note: I haven't been posting many vinyl rips here lately because the stylus on my turntable was way past its expiration date, and I didn't want to harm my treasured old LPs. But listening to Makossa Digital and other rips I've made since getting a new stylus it's apparent how much sound quality I had been sacrificing with that old needle as well. I'd like to re-rip and re-upload much of the old material but that's obviously going to take a while. In the meantime I'd appreciate your input. When I processed Makossa Digital I tweaked the high frequencies upwards just a little bit as it seemed to add a fair bit of clarity to the sound. However, I'm aware that my hearing is not what it used to be, and what sounds fine to me may be hopelessly screechy to others. So, let me know. Input from people with a background in audio engineering is especially appreciated.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Back in the mid-1980s if there was one musical style that rivaled Congo music in the hearts of Africans, it was makossa out of Cameroun. Given that Cameroun is a country of numerous ethnic groups, there is a constellation of musical styles there competing for attention: tchamassi, bikutsi, ashiko and mangambe among them. The music of Cameroun's largest city, Douala, makossa's international popularity can be attributed partly to one man, Manu Dibango. His record "Soul Makossa" (a song that is not even true makossa!) was a smash hit in 1972, but makossa the genre reached its apogee in the mid-1980s thanks to the hard work of another, producer/musician Aladji Touré, whose Touré Jim's Records launched numerous careers and revived many others.
In those days more often than not it was one of Touré's slick Paris productions that graced my turntable or tape deck, but I've always loved the less-sophisticated version of makossa that was popular in the late 1970s as well. About ten years ago some anonymous individual gathered together a number of these tracks in two CDs: Makossa: The Classics (A.C.F. Productions) and The Classics II (A.C.F. Productions AFC96). I present here six tunes from them. Much of the biographical information on the artists I gleaned from the liner notes of the 3-LP compilation Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003, 1983).
Pierre de Moussy's fast-paced variation of makossa was a huge hit in the '80s although like many in the scene he's faded away in recent years:
Pierre de Moussy - Djomba Djomba
Jacky Doumbe likewise is a bit of a mystery to me, although also very popular:
Jacky Doumbé - Tonton a Meya
Jean Mandengue was a star of the early makossa scene who seems to have been eclipsed by the time of the mid-'80s boom. At least, I haven't been able to find out anything else about him:
Jean Mandengue - Muna Munyenge
François Missé Ngoh was born July 17, 1949 in the village of Mbonjo and was a major architect of the makossa sound as a member of the group Los Calvinos, where he replaced Nelle Eyoum. The liner notes of Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun state, "He was one of the first musicians to adopt the makossa rhythm and worked hard to escape from the three classic chords system which made makossa monotonous in the long term. He introduced other modulations."
Missé Ngoh - La Vie C'est Terrible
Eko Roosevelt was born Louis Roosevelt Eko on November 13, 1946 in Lobé-Kribi, Ocean Division, Cameroun. Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun writes, "Eko is a great pianist, an excellent organist, an accomplished guitarist and a firts-class conductor and musical arranger. And if that were not enough, he also sings."
Eko Roosevelt - Me 2 I De Try My Own
The pre-eminent "musician's musician" of Cameroun, Toto Guillaume (b. August 25, 1955, Douala) is responsible for at least two certified classic LPs, Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404, 1983) and Elimbi na Ngomo (Production TN TN 591, 1985). Moreover, he is an extremely popular session musician and arranger, appearing on too many recordings to count:
Toto Guillaume - Isokoloko
Makossa seems to have declined in recent years, but still has its loyal following. For your information, there are some profiles of popular Camerounian musicians here. The painting at the top of this post is taken from the LP Africa Oumba No. 1 (Blue Silver 8260, 1987).