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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics: Inspiration Information (Strut/Border)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics: Inspiration Information (Strut/Border)

A couple of years ago a very generous Elsewhere subscriber sent me some albums in the Ethiopiques series, music of all persuasions from Ethiopia (mostly club singers and jazz on the ones I received) which were as unexpected as they were enjoyable. I'm told that vibes/keyboard player Mulatu Astatke got a whole disc to himself because he was...

Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

Subtitled "Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga" this lively, groove-oriented and guitar jangle collection of 20 songs comes from Strut, the same label which has brought you various Nigerian and Ethiopiques collections -- as well as the terrific Mulatu Astatke album and the Inspiration Information series. This is the...

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

This transplanted jazz musician from Ethiopia (vibes/keyboards) has been one of the major (re)discoveries of the past few years. His ascent continues on this album which drifts to life on the airy, almost ambient opener where muted trumpet pokes over long and languid horn lines to create a post-Kind of Blue dreamscape. Then it springs up a...

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 2 (Strut)

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 2 (Strut)

Following on from the recent and pretty cool Next Stop Soweto (volume one, obviously) comes this even better collection, this subtitled "soul, funk and organ grooves from the townships 1969-76". This is a steamy collection of 22 tracks -- many of them with some real guitar sting as much as funky grooves. In fact when the...

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 3; Giants, Ministers and Makers (Strut)

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 3; Giants, Ministers and Makers (Strut)

Subtitled "Jazz in South Africa 1963-1984" this is the third volume in the excellent Strut excavation of crucial SA music which has previously picked up Township jive music and mad funk/psychedelic sounds. This collection is the least of three: the improvisations often sound constrained, in other places where the players let go...

Femi Kuti: Africa for Africa (Wrasse)

Femi Kuti: Africa for Africa (Wrasse)

In 1970 George Melly wrote Revolt into Style, a witty and sometimes scathing look at how the revolutionary, anti-establishment figures in pop art and culture had been assimilated into the mainstream as just another fashion/style accessory. You'd wonder what Melly might make of Nigerian firebrand musician and lightning-rod political...

El Rego: El Rego (Daptone)

El Rego: El Rego (Daptone)

DJs like nothing more than unearthing obscurities – makes them hipper than thou – but UK archivist/platter-spinner and all round good guy Frank Goesser does us a favour with this collection of a dozen late Sixties/early Seventies sides by Afro-soul singer Theophile Do Rego (aka El Rego) from Benin. In the brief but excellent...

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