Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mahmoud Ahmed Live in Addis Ababa, 1992

As part of this blog's ongoing effort to bring to light obscure and hard-to-find recordings from Ethiopia, I present a 1992 cassette, Mahmoud Ahmed Live in Addis Ababa (Ambassel Music Shop).

This recording is interesting in light of the fall of the brutal regime of
Mengistu Haile Mariam on May 19 the previous year. Suddenly the riches of contemporary Ethiopian music became far more available to the outside world. Live, along with a number of other cassettes, was licensed to an Ethiopian entrepreneur in Washington, DC, who was able to use mass-market technology to duplicate it. These cassettes were therefore of somewhat better quality than the haphazardly-copied Ethiopian editions (the cassette inlay cards were printed in Ethiopia).

Live is marred somewhat by the use of synthesizer and drum machine, but it offers an interesting look at one of the masters of the Ethiopian groove on his home ground. Of course, I have no idea if the lyrics reflect the tumultuous changes occurring in Ethiopia at the time.

A member of the minority Gouarague ethnic group, Mahmoud Ahmed was born on May 8, 1941, and rose from very humble origins as a shoeshine boy to become the best-known Ethiopian musician internationally, thanks mainly to his ground-breaking record Erè Mèla Mèla (1975), which has been reissued several times in the last 20 years.

The cassette lists twelve songs, but three, "Enmane Nebru," "Yuy Heregitu" and "Naye Danune Tesau," are missing. As usual, I've transliterated the song titles utilizing the Geez syllabary. As there are undoubtedly errors, I'm making the original inlay card available to anyone with a knowledge of Amharic (I suspect some of these songs are in other languages as well). Your input is gratefully solicited!

Mahmoud Ahmed - Alaweqeueleoeme

Mahmoud Ahmed - Menafeqy Gwadaoe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enedyte Yerlale

Mahmoud Ahmed - Mela Tesxoe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Elemaze Mene Oeda Newe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Tezeta

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enegeday Nu

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enedagna

Mahmoud Ahmed - Imisemamaoe Axahuoe

And if you'd like to hear some more Mahmoud Ahmed at the top of his form, I've zipped and uploaded recordings of two concerts he did in Amsterdam a few years ago. These were originally posted at Matt Yanchyshyn's wonderful blog
Benn Loxo du Taccu and are made available with his permission. Download them here (warning: this is a 141 megabyte file) . I may decide to take these down in a couple of weeks, so get 'em while they're hot! Here's the setlist:

1. Atawruijn
2. Endet Nesh
3. Wey Fikir
4. Belomi Benna
5. Libesh Kabashini
6. Ney Denun Teseshi
7. Ere Mela Mela
8. Buna
9. Ashkaru
10. Yaselame
11. Eshet
12. Sab Sab Argign
13. Hulum Bager Naw


Anonymous said...


That is all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
Wonderful music by this great artist.
About words...only wishes...
Thank you again.
Kostas from Greece.

vagabond kiwi said...

Cheers great music, I had to great fortune to travel in Ethiopia (2months )& Eritrea for a 1 month in '94 - would of liked to stay longer , but you get 1 month visas that needed to be extended in Addis Ababa . Was a great experience - note the southwest was more black africa - and that was great too - great people all over, wonderful scenery & wildlife, unique food ( injera ). Shame about there problems there and surrounding countries ( sudan & somalia ) - would of been great to travel by river from western Ethiopia into southern sudan. I travelled the congo/zaire river in '89 that was amazing.

Anonymous said...

Good sound from Senegal? Are you out of malian Music (Mali)

Sanaag said...

John, you've got mind-reading capacities?! I've this tape, but I may have lost it as I can find it nowhere. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great post...actually all of the songs on this live album are classics and all are in Amharic...not even a song in Guragigna (his mother tongue) even among the 3 that you have not linked for downloads ;-)... numbers 3 & 9 from the Amsterdam set are in Guragigna...the rest are in Amharic ....reminds me of my childhood..funny how when we reached our early teens around 1989 in Addis, we started listening to Hip-hop and US pop and thought these ethiopian greats were our parents' can be dumb....
PS. I have about 50-60 ethiopian music tapes from the 80s just sitting in shoe boxes...and believe me there was tons of great music in the 80s too....I gotta digitize them and share the wealth!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon: Definitely you must share the wealth! If you need any help digitizing those tapes get in touch my private email is beadlejp (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thanks also for the info on the songs. There were three song titles listed on the cassette that were not actually on the tape. I don't know why.

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot. just discovered mahmoud ahmed and i'm grateful to find all of this still up.