fra fra: Funeral Songs (Glitterbeat/digital outlets)

 |   |  <1 min read

fra fra: Funeral Songs (Glitterbeat/digital outlets)

If memory serves, when the late writer Paul Oliver (who died in 2017 at 90) released an album to coincide with his seminal book The Story of the Blues in the late Sixties, the first track was a song of praise by people known as the Frafra tribe from Northern Ghana.

In it you could hear some of the elements more familiar from songs by Willie McTell, Leadbelly and other early bluesmen.

This trio out of the region have apparently been performing at ceremonies there for decades and here, in their local language, perform emotionally raw songs with the barest of backing (vocals, shaker, two-string guitar and flute, all sparingly deployed).

Recorded in situ by Ian Brennan for the Glitterbeat label, these field recordings are but a Middle Passage removed from field hollers and rural blues in America's South and although the English titles may have little to do with the songs' lyrical content (You Can't Escape Death; Helpless, Death Has Taken Everyone, the 21 second Goodbye and We Must Grieve Together are here) you get the picture.

These are songs of yearning, mourning, celebration of life and the passage into the great wherever.

Interesting, but more for ethnomusicologists than casual listeners. It was the Oliver connection and the Glitterbeat label (Tamikrest, 75 Dollar Bill etc) which drew Elsewhere here.

You can hear this album on Spotify here.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Various Artists: Murshidi and Sufi Songs (Arc Music)

Various Artists: Murshidi and Sufi Songs (Arc Music)

Although we might describe these field recordings as more worthy and important than they are repeat-play items and essential on the shelf, they are deserving of our attention. Deben... > Read more

Various: Nigeria 70; The Definitive Story of 1970's Funky Lagos (Southbound)

Various: Nigeria 70; The Definitive Story of 1970's Funky Lagos (Southbound)

Elsewhere has already drawn attention to excellent West African compilations such as Heavy Heavy Heavy which scooped up the pre-Afrobeat of Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone, and the double-disc... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARZETTE WATTS: Everywhere I hear the sound of . . .

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARZETTE WATTS: Everywhere I hear the sound of . . .

Should anyone doubt the close connection between American free jazz and the rise of radical black politics in the Sixties they only need to look to the life of saxophonist Marzette Watts.... > Read more

Mahi's West Coast Venison Hot Pot

Mahi's West Coast Venison Hot Pot

This recipe was provided by Jayson Hussey, aka Mahi which means "work" because he was always working. He was the chef at the luxurious Franz Joseph Glacier Country Retreat near the Franz... > Read more