Archive for the ‘Afrobeat’ Category

Friday Recycling: Manu Dibango – New Bell

January 18, 2008


Greetings all.

The weekend is almost upon us, and I for one am suffering from an extended bout of sleep deprivation. This, and I’ll be spinning at the latest edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions (at the World Famous Asbury Lanes…see below) this Friday 1/18. So, in a feeble attempt to budget what little time remains (and to maybe try and hit the sack a little early this evening) I’m pulling an old post –  (from October of 2006) that just happens to feature an extraordinarily wonderful song –  out of the archives and slapping it into yon blogspotte as a spaceholder of sorts.

If all goes as planned I’ll be back on Monday with a new Funky16Corners Radio podcast. Until then, I’ll invite you once again to join us at the 45 Sessions (either in person or on the interwebs at JamNow), and hope you dig the Afro-funk.





Manu Dibango


Listen – New Bell MP3″

Originally posted 10/2006 

We gather here today, in the figurative bottom of the ninth inning, three men on base, two outs, the crowd on its feet, and it’s all hanging in the balance.
What “it” is, at least from my particular viewpoint is the concept of the weekend, i.e. the reward we all hope to get after being beaten like a rented mule for five days. No one who works for a living can be faulted for placing a great deal of hope in the restorative powers – physical and spiritual – of the weekend. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to lie on the couch in your jammies eating milk and cookies, fire up the leaf blower, or head out into the cold, dark night in search of the warmth of alcohol and /or human companionship.

When Friday night comes, all bets are off.
In my own case, I arrive here today after one of the slowest weeks in recent memory, filled to the brim with paperwork, general hassles and the grand parade of ignorami (that being the plural of ignoramus) that beset me almost daily. This is not to say that I do not enjoy the company of many of the folks I work with. In fact, I would have to say that in all my years at this particular job, I have never worked with a mellower bunch. However, when I say that, I refer only to those people that work in the same department with me. The people I have to deal with, all day long from the moment I walk into the building until I make my escape at 4:30, the people that hang around my neck like the ancient mariner’s albatross, the people that more often than not do nothing but lower my appraisal of humanity….they work in other departments.
I only tell you this to put a fine point on exactly how important the weekend is to me, personally.
It’s freedom, brothers and sisters.
It is in that spirit that I bring you a track so hot, so full of life, so…so funky, that I give you my personal guarantee that if you download it, give it the old zip-a-dee-doo-dah and shuffle it off into your MP3 delivery system, that its medicinal value will be revealed immediately, allowing you to launch yourselves into your own little slice of freedom today, or for that matter any time you want a taste of why you bother working for a living.
When I drop the needle on Manu Dibango’s ‘New Bell’, it makes me want to get my big & tall dashiki out of cold storage and do the hokey pokey until the break of day.
For those that don’t know – and I would sincerely hope that it’s not too many of you – Manu Dibango, “The Lion of Cameroon” is the cat that hit the international stage like an A-bomb in 1972 with ‘Soul Makossa’*. If you haven’t heard that particular song, I’d recommend highly that you hit the garage sales and flea markets tomorrow with a shiny quarter clutched in your hand, because that is all you will need to get a copy of that particular 45.
It is with that potent serving of Afro-funk, that the Manu Dibango story begins and ends. However, Dibango has had a long and versatile career, working in jazz (where he got his beginnings), funk and world beat, still playing today well into his 70’s.
The world of Afro-funk/Afro-beat is one that I have only scratched the surface of. As far as original vinyl sources, other than artists that have been widely issued outside of Africa (like Dibango or Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who we will be visiting with sometime next week), you pretty much have to be satisfied with reissues and compilations. Suffice to say (and listening to this track will illustrate it nicely) African artists, especially the two I just mentioned, who both spent a lot of time outside of Africa in their musically formative years, were listening to a lot of American funk and soul – especially James Brown – mixing those sounds with indigenous beats and modern African pop music. Considering how much US blues, funk and soul owe to African roots; you end up with one big musical Moebius strip, folding back in on itself from every angle.
Listening to ‘New Bell’, or other Dibango heaters like ‘Weya’, it’s not hard to understand why Dibango was so popular. While he created a densely layered funk, with multi-level instrumental interplay not unlike any contemporary James Brown production – he also worked in a touch of jazz (listen to Dibango’s soprano sax, and the electric piano solos) and just enough of an African vibe to spice up the mix. The end result was hypnotic and supremely danceable.
If you can get your hands on the original ‘Soul Makossa’ LP, as well as it’s follow up ‘Makossa Man’ (both released domestically on Atlantic) do so post haste. While ‘Soul Makossa’, ‘New Bell’ and ‘Weya’ all saw release as 45 edits (the first two domestically, and ‘Weya’ in Europe), it is really worth tracking down the albums for the extended mixes of all of these tunes, which are amazing. If you’re ever lucky enough to find the 45 of Dibango’s ‘Salt Popcorn’ – also known as ‘Dikalo’ – you’ll hear things get even funkier.
Fortunately there are a couple of excellent ‘Best of’ comps of Manu Dibango’s best work, though you’ll have to pick up a couple of them to get all of the best tracks.
Have a (really) good weekend.

* The last time I wrote about Manu Dibango, I received a couple of e-mail communiques from folks who let me know that despite the repeated appearance of the word ‘Makossa’ in his songs (they even mention it in the beginning of ‘New Bell’), that his music bears little resemblance to actual Makossa music. One of the commenters on this old post lays it out better than I can.

Funky16Corners Radio v.38 – Fall Funk (plus some news…)

November 18, 2007


You Gotta Wash Your Pumpkin…

Funky16Corners Radio v.38- Fall Funk


1. Manu Dibango – Moni (Atlantic)
2. Fatback Band – Njia (Nija) Walk (Perception)
3. Bird Rollins feat the New Jersey Burners – Do It To It (Calla)
4. Gene & Eddie – Sweet Little Girl (Ru Jac)
5. Bill Coday – Get Your Lie Straight (Crajon)
6. James Rivers – Fonky Flute (Kon Ti)
7. Dave Baby Cortez – Do the Funky Dance (Sound Pak)
8. Brother Jack McDuff – Theme From Electric Surfboard (Blue Note)
9. Ramsey Lewis – Since You’ve Been Gone (Cadet)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive


Greetings all.
A new week is upon us, and I am overcome by a grey indifference, due no doubt to the strange autumn weather. As I’ve related several times in the past, here in New Jersey, we go through bizarre seasonal transitions, where the weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind, hurtling back and forth through diametrically opposed periods of warmth and cold, stitched together by a vague, unpleasant wetness.
I suppose I should be thankful that in this part of the country we rarely experience extreme weather (raging brushfires, tornados, floods, hurricanes or softball-sized hail), but I cannot deny that the current state of affairs does something to the equilibrium.
I an effort to combat this malaise, and to right the ship as it were I have decided – with the help of my recent Baltimore digs – to assemble a batch of funky grooves, engineered to lift the spirits and move the feet. All but two of the 45s in this mix were procured last week in the Charm City (I put aside a couple of choice bits for presentation by themselves), and I have Vincent the Soul Chef to thank for putting me up on one of his spots, where these sounds were found (literally in a back alley, behind a locked gate).

On that note, make sure you head over to check out the Fufu Stew Thanksgiving extravaganza, a three part Turkey Day themed mix with contributions from several other bloggers (myself included).
The preamble now dispensed with, I bring you some info (on account of it wouldn’t be Funky16Corners if I didn’t, right?) to peruse while you’re soaking in the funk.
But first, some news…
After a long delay, the Funky16Corners Radio Archive has finally been assembled, wherein one will find links to download mixed MP3s and Zip files for every edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast. As I said this was a longtime coming, but thanks to the aid of a friendly reader – who sent along the files I was missing – it is now a reality.


I’ve also consolidated the pre-Wordpress blog archives (or at least the links thereof) into a single page, truncating the sidebar considerably.


I considered moving the blogroll off onto a separate page, but at least for the moment, I like having the links on the main page, so that’s where they’ll stay.
To access the new pages you can click on the appropriate graphics in the sidebar.
That all said, I hope you like the improvements – as they are – and would like to hear what you think.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio has a running time which is a little on the short side (just under a half hour), but I figured maybe instead of sitting in front of the computer all day, you might want to get a concentrated dose of the funk, which you might carry with you out into the streets, spreading the love wherever you go. Dig also the interstitial interjections from the legendary Redd Foxx
Things get off to a rousing start with a side by the Lion of Cameroon, the mighty master of the makossa, Manu Dibango. Dibango’s ‘Weya’ is a longtime fave, and though I already have the French issue on Fiesta, I figured it couldn’t hurt to pick up a nice copy of the US issue on Atlantic. Good thing I did too, because the b-side ‘Moni’ is a searing bit of Afro-funk (the Fiesta b-side is ‘Pepe Soup’). Dig the heavy fuzz guitar herein.
I have DJ Prestige for turning me onto the Fatback Band, via his inclusion of ‘Goin’ To See My Baby’ on our ‘Beat Combination’ collab. Thanks to that, I have been on the lookout for Fatback 45s ever since. Good thing too, since ‘Njia (Nija) Walk’ is a funky killer – not to mention the fact that it carries on its flipside a tasty version of ‘Soul Man’.
I haven’t been able to track down much in the way of concrete info on Bird Rollins. Though he’s backed by the New Jersey Burners (dig those tasty breaks) on ‘Do It To It’ (originally issued on Andee) he appears to hail from the south. He recorded two 45s for the Calla label in the early 70’s, and for a couple of other imprints (Rol Cal, Magnet, Disco) into the disco era.
One of the things a digger hopes for when exploring new territory, is to come up on local vinyl. I was lucky enough while in Baltimore to score a copy of ‘Gene and Eddie’s ‘Sweet Little Girl’ on the Ru Jac label. Between 1963 and 1972 Ru Jac released a grip of quality sides by Baltimore/Washington DC area artists including Winfield Parker and Butch Cornell. Gene & Eddie had five singles on Ru Jac between 1968 and 1971, with ‘Sweet Little Girl’ coming out in 1969. Though the tune isn’t out and out funk, it surely is funky with a bit of Sam and Dave-ish interplay.
Though he got his start in Mississippi, Bill Coday was “discovered” in Chicago by Denise Lasalle and her husband Bill Jones (owner of the Crajon label), who took him to Memphis where he would record under the aegis of the great Willie Mitchell. ‘Get Your Lie Straight’ was a Top 20 R&B hit in 1971, and features a gritty vocal by Coday with some signature Memphis backing. Coday went on to record for Galaxy and Epic, and continues to tour and record to this day.
Followers of New Orleans sounds will find the name James Rivers a familiar one. Adept on both sax and flute, Rivers recorded for a variety of local labels (Instant, Eight Ball, Kon Ti) through the 60’s and 70’s (I’ve features some of his stuff in previous New Orleans mixes). The aptly named ‘Fonky Flute’ is one of his rarer 45s, so I’ll ask you to forgive the noise at the beginning. The record has an edge warp that had the tone arm bobbing like a drunk on a mechanical bull, and it’s a miracle that the record got recorded at all. However, a little surface noise is a small price to pay, as the normally restrained Rivers uses ‘Fonky Flute’ as his opportunity to go 100%, Rahsaan Roland Kirkified, batshit crazy during his solos, making Jeremy Steig look like the light entertainment for a meeting of the Garden Club. It’s one my fave flute sides, and I’m always on the lookout for a clean copy.
If you stop by here on the reg, you already know I love me some Hammond, which is what I was expecting years ago when I first grabbed ‘(Do It) The Funky Dance’ by Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez. Imagine my surprise when I slapped it on the turntable and it turned out to be a funk vocal, and a good one at that. I was unaware that Cortez had done any singing (which it turns out he had, occasionally), and this 1971 45 is proof that maybe he should have done so more often. I’m not saying that he was going to give Wilson Pickett anything to worry about, but as singing organists go, he wasn’t bad.
Also on the Hammond tip, and quite heavily at that is one of the masters of the genre, the mighty Brother Jack McDuff with ‘Theme From Electric Surfboard’. I love McDuff’s Blue Note recordings (‘Hunk of Funk’ is an all time fave), and ‘Theme..’ has a very groovy, almost Blaxploitation feeling to it, with a serious amount o swing. Brother Jack must have dug it a lot, because he rerecorded it a couple of times for Cadet.
Speaking of Cadet, we close out the mix with one of the labels stalwarts, the great Ramsey Lewis. His cover of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ (the flip of the oft sampled ‘Les Fleur’) appeared on his 1968 ‘Maiden Voyage’ LP. I really dig the mix of Lewis’ trademark soul jazz piano/bass/drums groove with the backing vocals and the horn section.

So, I hope you dig the mix, and that if you’re missing any of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts, you spend some time catching up.

PS Don’t forget the Asbury Park 45 Sessions are this Friday 11/23 at the World Famous Asbury Lanes!!


PS Check out the tunes over at Iron Leg

Friday 8/31 Lucky Cat/Budos Recap/Set List

September 1, 2007


Set List

Manu Dibango – Weya (Atlantic LP Edit)
Joe Bataan – Shaft (Fania 45)
Lou Courtney – You Can Give Your Love To Me (Verve)
War – Me and Baby Brother (UA)
Tony Newman – Soul Thing (Parrot)
Soulful Strings – Burning Spear (Cadet)
Eal King – Street Parade Pt1 (Kansu)
Chris Clark – Love’s Gone Bad (Motown LP)
Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson – Soulshake (SSS Intl)
Joe Cuba Sextet – El Pito (Hit/Tico)
John Philip Soul & His Stone Marching Band – That Memphis Thing (Pepper)
Geraldo Pino – Heavy Heavy Heavy (Suzumi)
Roy Lee Johnson – Boogaloo #3 (Josie)
Shadows of Knight – Shake (Team)
Louis Chachere – The Hen Pt1 (Paula)
Andre Brasseur – The Duck (Palette)
Lou Courtney – Hot Butter’n’All (Hurdy Gurdy)
Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pt1 (Seven B)
Lyn Collins – Think (About It) (People)
Village Callers – Hector (Rampart)
Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze (Canyon)
King Coleman – The Boo Boo Song Pt1 (King)
Lou Courtney – Hey Joyce (Popside)
Mickey & the Soul Generation – Iron Leg (Maxwell)
The Impressions – We’re a Winner (ABC)
Brother Jack McDuff – Hunk of Funk (Blue Note)
Hugh Masekela – Grazing In the Grass (Uni)
Manu Dibango – New Bell (Atlantic LP edit)
Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (Atlantic)
Fela Ransome Kuti – Shakara (EMI)
Eddie Bo – Hook & Sling Pt1 (Scram)
BT Express – Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) (Scepter)
Fatback Band – Goin’ To See My Baby (Perception)
Don (Soul Train) Campbell – Campbell Lock (Stanson)
Just Brothers – Sliced Tomatoes (MM)
James K Nine – Live It Up (Federal)
Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing (King)
Mongo Santamaria – Lady Marmalade (Vaya)
Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – I Gotta Go Now (Up On the Floor) (Like)
Jeanne & the Darlings – Soul Girl (Volt)
James Brown – Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine Pt1 (King)
Hank Ballard – Butter Your Popcorn (King)
Roy Thompson – Sookie Sookie (Okeh)
Mohawks – Champ (Philips)
Syl Johnson – Dresses To Short (Twinight)
Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 (Seven B)
Johnny Otis Show – Watts Breakaway (Epic)

Greetings all.
I can barely believe that I’m sitting here at 8:30 in the AM writing this, but when your 3 ½ year old decides it’s time to get out of bed, it’s time.
Last night at the Lucky Cat was a blast.

First off, fuck a Mapquest.
I hadn’t been in Williamsburg in over two years, and if I hadn’t had some memory of the neighborhood, my Mapquest “directions” would have had me and my records bobbing in Long Island Sound.
I did finally make my way over to Grand Street, and as you can see by the length of my set list – the awwww sheeeit maybe I shoulda brought the flight case with the 200 45s in it set list – I started early and the Budos came on late.
This of course was OK with me, but I have to tell you, after the first 45 minutes, when the Lucky Cat filled to capacity, the temperature went from about 80 degrees to a brisk, fresh, Springtimey 110, and I started to melt.
I mean, it’s summertime after all, and I know it’s supposed to be hot, but (and maybe the equatorial climate is something the badass Budos bring with them everywhere they go) it was motherfunkin, drippily sweat-tastic. If it weren’t for an uninterrupted flow of club soda from the bar, I would have passed out behind the decks (and I’m only half kidding…).
Second, I have to give big ups to Lilah and  Sascha at the Lucky Cat, for running one of the grooviest clubs in this part of the known universe.
Third, thanks to all of the cool people who came up to say hi and give props to the Funky16Corners blog.
Fourth, I will come back and spin for a crowd like this any ole time. Folks were feeling the funk, and dancing (‘Hook and Sling’ prompted a particularly vigorous bit of ass-wiggling getdown right in front of the turntables, Helloooooo ladies!). Special props go out to the folks between the decks and the stage who were really cutting a rug.
If these cats are playing within 100 miles of your crib ad you do not hit the club you will be sorry my friends because when the Budos put an erupting volcano on the cover of their first LP they WERE NOT KIDDING. I would spin before this band at any time. I highly suggest that if you have not purchased their albums yet, you do so posthaste as they are both essential.
That all said, I am going to try (try being the operative word) to catch up on a good deal of lost sleep over the next few days. I’m working on something cool for Tuesday, so hang tight, get your end of summer party on, and I’ll see you then.

Geraldo Pino – Heavy Heavy Heavy

August 29, 2007


Geraldo Pino


Listen – Heavy Heavy Heavy MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope y’all are ready to groove, because the tune that I am about to whip on you today is, quite literally, figuratively and in title, Heavy Heavy Heavy.
But first, a word from our sponsor…


I had this record all stacked up and ready for blogification when I got the high sign from my man Sascha at the Lucky Cat in Brooklyn, asking me if I was up for a little expeditione du disque on the Thirty First of this very month. Naturally, eager at all times to strap my wax onto my mule and venture out into the wilderness I accepted eagerly. Then I found out that my slot would be opening for the mighty Afro funk powerhouse the Budos Band, and promptly flipped my wig, passing right through excited to psyched.
I assure you all, no matter how much heat I pack in the Funky16Corners porta-crates, the sounds of the Budos Band – emanating from the Daptone stable of stars – are pure heat and if you are within reach of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you should…nay you MUST, head on out for the last Friday night of the Summer to shake it at the Lucky Cat.
That I had some Afro funk ready to go when this opportunity rolled along is pure, happy coincidence.
When you talk about Afro funk (beat, rock, whatever) the name that first comes to mind is of course that of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Unless you have a more than passing acquaintance with sounds African, you may not have heard the name Geraldo Pino. Rest assured, though, that in the earliest days of his funkiness, Fela knew Pino – a native of Sierra Leone who was very popular in Nigeria – and his band the Heartbeats as perhaps the funkiest band in all of Africa.
Pino – born Gerald Pine – started out as a devotee of Latin sounds, moving on into American influenced soul and funk via the influence of James Brown. In the words of Fela himself:

“They were great, I must be frank with you. They copied James Brown throughin, throughout every note, every style. And they had the equipment…Before they came into my country, bands only used one microphone, at the time a whole band. But they came in with five microphones, and the sound, it’s deep you know, so nobody wanted to hear anyone but the Heartbeats…they drove everyone out of the market.”

After seeing this Pino I knew I had to get myself together, quick!”*

When you hear today’s selection, ‘Heavy Heavy Heavy’, which was recorded in the late 60’s and released clear on the other side of the continent in Kenya on the Suzumi label, it’s immediately obvious why Fela dug these sounds so much.
There are clear parallels to the sounds of Fela – especially to the ’69 sessions with Koola Lobitos – but Pino’s sound is even more Westernized, compacting the funk into smaller, harder portions. A record like ‘Heavy Heavy Heavy’ is like Fela concentrate, taking the epic scope of an Africa 70 sidelong opus, running it through a Sex Machine and coming out the other end ready to set the dance floor on fire.
‘Heavy Heavy Heavy’ has a groove that’s positively unfuckwithable, with Pino jiving over a seriously propulsive organ line and some pounding drums. If you aren’t shaking your ass halfway through this burner, you need to check for a pulse.
So, download the ones and zeros, begin shaking, continue shaking and drag that ass out to Lucky Cat this Friday.

I hope to see you there.

*Quote taken from the excellent book, Fela: The Life of an African Musical Icon

Buy Geraldo Pino – Heavy Heavy Heavy – at