Showing posts with label Makossa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Makossa. Show all posts

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cameroon Fever Vol. 1




Ken Abrams does it again with Cameroon Fever Vol. 1, a tasty collection of tracks from that country, mostly from the golden '80s, when Makossa, Makassy, Tchamassi and Bikutsi ruled.

A few notes about some of the artists here: Besides being a prolific artist in his own right, Isidore Tamwo in the '80s was the producer of Sam Fan Thomas, who achieved world fame with his smash "African Typic Collection," among others. Andre-Marie Tala popularized the Tchamassi rhythm and won a court case against James Brown for plagiarizing his hit "Hot Koki." Betuel Enola is better known as a backup singer for the likes of Manu Dibango and Lapiro de Mbanga, but she did make at least one solo recording, Propriete Privée, from which the song "Oa" is taken. The Golden Sounds, led by Jean Paul Zé Bella, are arguably one of the most influential African groups of all time, thanks to their 1986 smash "Zangalewa," better known as "Waka Waka," whose serpentine history is discussed by Uchenna Ikonne here.

Johnny Tezano acheived fame in the '80s with a synthesis of Camerounian and Congolese music that he called Ma-kwassa, while Ebanda Manfred is best known as the author of the song "Ami," made famous by Bebe Manga (and which you can download here). Jean Bikoko Aladin, who passed away last year, was one of the founders of modern Camerounian music, who popularized the Assiko style in the early '60s.

1. Emancipée Mariama - Isidore Tamwo
2. Celle Qui T'A Aime - Andre-Marie Tala
3. Oa - Betuel Enola
4. Maladie Difficile - Golden Sounds
5. Bobe Na Bongo - Cella Stella
6. S.O.S Mon Coeur - Marcel Tjahe
7. Balong - Maurice Njoume
8. Carreau Magique - Johnny Tezano
9. Baby Na Mamy Na - Ebanda Manfred
10. Humanisme African - Tonye Jackson
11. A Yiga Tchome - Jean Bikoko Aladin Et L'Assiko Rigueur
12. Pane Pane - Georges Seba
13. Mengabo Wo Dze - Alao Javis
Download Cameroon Fever Vol. 1 here. And explore Ken Abrams's artwork here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lapiro de Mbanga Freed!




By way of Makossa Original and Freemuse we receive the happy news that Camerounian musician Lapiro de Mbanga was freed April 8 after three years of harsh imprisonment.

Lapiro was arrested following riots in 2008 against the high cost of living and constitutional changes that made Cameroun's kleptocratic president Paul Biya eligible to run for re-election indefinitely. He ran unsuccessfully in local elections on the opposition Social Democratic Front slate in 2006 but the precipitating event for his arrest and sentence seems to have been his song "Constitution Constipeé," a critique of the Biya regime that became the unofficial anthem of the protests.

The past three years have seen an international campaign on behalf of Lapiro, which apparently fell on deaf ears. He served every day of his sentence.

Join me in celebrating the release of Lapiro De Mbanga with his wonderful album Ndinga Man (Energy Productions NE 5003), which was released in the late '80s:





Download Ndinga Man as a zipped file here, and enjoy this video, "Everybody to Kondengui Prison," about which Dibussi Tande says, ". . .In this fiery and no-holds-barred song released last year [2007], Lapiro lashes out against the symbols of decay in today's Cameroun: A regime in power which has turned its back on all the nationalist slogans of the early years; generalized corruption that has affected every stratum of society ; an insolent and arrogant ruling elite brazenly parading symbols of ostentatious consumption (vulgar SUVs out of place on Cameroon's roads, huge castles amidst appalling squalor, some shown in the video). . .":


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Return of Toguy




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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Musicians' Musician




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

Classic Makossa




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).