Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

Music galore at Camden Festival

Since 1977, MORY KANTE, a Guinean, has emerged as one of the most successful performers thrown up by the West African music explosion.

A true pioneer in the field of African popular music, Mory Kante now plays numerous instruments - kora, percussion, violin and flute in his efforts to build. a bridge between traditional West African and electronic West. His current set-up, however, is fully modern with two trumpets, two drummers, saxophone, guitar, bass and keyboards, though virtuoso kora playing remains central to his live performance.

His most recent studio work involved a historic collaboration with such artists as King Sunny Ade, Manu Dibango and Souzy Kasseya in producing a Pan African sound for the acclaimed famine relief record 'Tam Tam Pour L'Ethiopie'. A new album from his Paris studio is due out soon to follow the success of his first internationally acknowledged LP 'Mory Kante A Paris'. Of his most recent work Mory speaks of his wish "to prove to everyone that all the important popular music phenomena of our time - from Salsa to Breakdancing - originate from Africa". Examine the evidence for yourself on 19 March at the Town & Country Club and hear one of the world's most perfected and exciting musical marriages between ancient and modern.

ABACUSH are South London's highly rated reggae ambassadors - the only band to be fronted by women in the some- what chauvinistic world of reggae music. Abacush put on a tough hard hitting sound that continues to win them a growing and enthusiastic band of followers including several major record companies and an eagerly awaited link up with the Madness Zarjazz label. Their 1985 single 'Sunshine Island' is only the start of a promising recording career for the eighties and nineties.

DIRTY MONEY, a Camden-based band, rapidly establishing themselves on the London music circuit will also perform. It is all happening on March 19 (8pm-2am) at the Town & Country Club, 9-17 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London.

Ghanaba At The Royal Albert Hall

The Greater London Council (GLC) in association with Hilton Incorporated presents 'Les Grande Ballet Afrique Noire' The Great Ballet of Black Africa at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, March 16, 1986.

"Precision, beautiful movements and maturity are their main character istics." The group of twenty-five musicians, singers and dancers of both sexes drawn from Mali, Guinea, Senegal and the Caribbean Islands takes the public to the very heart of Africa wherever they perform.

Their ten acts constituting their performance which are done in Malinke and Bambara, re-incarnate tribal war music, sacred rites, "ceremonial initiation dance" and simple conflicts of everyday life in our villages.

Also on the bill is Ghana's eternal Okyeremma (master drummer) Kofi Ghanaba who emerges from Ghana to give one of his rare public performances for international audience.

Guinea's Amazones - Goddesses of African Music

By Paco George

News had reached all parts of London about the performance and music of LES AMAZONES DE GUINEE an all- female band of policewomen. The tickets for all their four concerts at the Shaw Theatre in London sold out but it was necessary to see them live on the last day. It looks and sounds novel to watch a group of women take complete control over musical instruments to express them- selves artistically. This is, fact, what attracted most people to see the 'Goddesses of African Music' who combine music making with peace keeping in their native Guinea. But once you hear them you realise that there is more to mere young women playing music: they have total control and mastery over their act.

The atmosphere surrounding 'Ou Est Mon Mari?' (where is my husband?') summarized what the late-comer like myself had missed from the first two songs. The crowd was already on its feet for more music. As the music 'warriors' (they take their name after the female warriors of the late King Behanzin on ancient Dahomey - now Benin) dis- played their confidence, energy and courage one immediately understood the virtues which have guided them throughout their 25 years of music.

Led on guitar by Nyepou Habas, Les Amazones quickly crossed the problem of British scepticism by letting their instruments speak while the singers acted 'Salimou and entertained the packed theatre with lyrical and vocal maturity. Listening to the group play 'Pinareno' one's mind was immediately thrown back to the era of Johnny Pacheco whose Latin American music had conquered the whole world of Francophone Africa. Singer Cisse Fatou is certainly not Pete Rodriguez but the vocal call and answer with M'Mah Sylla and Kanko Camara sustained the urgency of the music. Not only were songs such as 'Oulalaba' and 'Salimou' good melodies in themselves but they also gave bassist Salematou Diallo and drummers Camara Mato and Kouyate Negbe the opportunity to express their individual skills while the meander- ing but solid guitar works of Nyepou Habas and Sona Diabate demonstrated the qualities of true 'amazones'.

The occasional traces of funk, hi-life, bikutshi and soul in the style of Les Amazones only helped to convince the difficult British ears of the repertoire competently handled by this group.

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

FRANCIS BEBEY: Heavy Ghetto (OZIL 3316).
'Heavy Ghetto' 'Anti-Apartheid Makossa' 'Madonna Verona' 'All Over The World' 'The Magic Box' 'Politiki' 'Where Are You? I Love You' Maloba' Forest Whistle.

Cameroon's Francis Bebey has a heap of messages for mankind in this new album of his, released at a time when the world is experiencing racism, injustices, crime, greed and all sorts of evil. As a novelist, poet, musician and musicologist of international repute, there is little wonder for the depth of analysis and content of his songs. The entire A-side concentrates on the theme of injustices in South Africa ('Heavy Ghetto' and Anti- Dara lle Apartheid Makossa'), prayer for peace and happiness in the world (Madonna Verona') and racial harmony ('All Over The World'). While 'Politiki' and 'Maloba' on the B-side are sung in his native tongue, the rest are, as usual, in English.

Listening to the entire album, one gets the impression that Francis Bebey still has the objective of making people listen to him rather than dance to his music which he provides with the aid of acoustic guitar and traditional instruments. Where he uses studio drums they merely instil some timing for those who find it difficult to appreciate new music as in 'Where Are You? I Love You'.

There is both sadness and sweetness in Bebey's voice when he sings 'Maloba' or 'Madonna Verona' while your mind turns on his rich lyrics throughout the album. The guitar solos in 'Maloba' and the inter- action between traditional flutes and sanza are more likely to lift the soul of mankind as he listens to 'Forest Whistle'. The lyrical conflict in 'Heavy Ghetto', typical with Francis Bebey, is resolved by the use of both Western and African instruments and styles achieve harmony. Bebey's subtle acoustic guitar adds another level of finesse to his music and message. His music is meant for a different level of consumption and worth checking out for.

KUBURA ALARAGBO: Repercussion (LRCLS 53)
'Ori Ota Kore' 'Okiki Ki Posu' 'Oje Je Iyawo' Aja To Wole Ekun' Aiye E Pon Wa Le' 'Emi Ase Waka Yi Lowo' 'Egbe Amuludun (Omi Adio)' 'Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola' 'Alhaji Ishola Alowonle' 'Talabi

Not so long ago, Yoruba female singer Kubara Alaragbo joined the new wave waka music makers with her Adija Ti Je (LRCLS 50) which was widely well received by Lagos. It is a good practice to follow up as she has done with Repercus- sion which also incorporates the use of talking drums, congas, bells, sticks and many other percussion instruments.

Taking lead vocals throughout the album, Kubura Alaragbo is closely shadowed by the almost infantile female back-up singing especially towards the end of Aiye E Pon Wa Le'.

Although the beginning and the entire non-stop music on the B-side sound just like the A-side, one would naturally think that her messages are entirely different. The crisp congas and the depth of the talking drums would not require much time to appreciate 'Egbe Amuludun (Omi Adio)'.

As the practice in Lagos goes, it is hardly surprising that Kubura Alaragbo devotes two songs to two people - Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola and Alhaji Ishola Alowonle. It is reasonable to assume that they are, as usual, praise songs. It borders on monotony at certain points but when you understand the meaning of her lyrics it is a different experience altogether.


1. BOYA YE M'Bilia Bel (STERNS) Zaire
2. DIVORCE Lubaki Geant (ASWE) Congo
3. AU COEUR DE PARIS Les Amazones (ENIMAS) Guinea
4. TORONTO BY NIGHT A.B. Crentsil (WAZURI) Ghana
5. BREAKTHROUGH Mandy (FAZE 2) Nigeria
6. MARIO Franco (CHOC) Zaire
7. 1x2=MABE Youlou Mabiala (APIA) Congo
8. IZIBANI ZOMGQASHIYO Mahotella Queens (EARTHWORKS) South Africa
9. ASANTEMAN Pat Thomas (JAP) Ghana
10. MALANGA Kanda Bongo Man (BM) Zaire
12. SERVICE LIBRE Eyango Ndedi (DICK'S) Cameroon
13. SAVIOURSunny Ade (SALPS) Nigeria
14. ZULU JIVE VOL. 2 Various Artists (EARTHWORKS) Azania
Chart courtesy of AFROBOOM RECORDS,
1st Floor Wren Suite, 189 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16
(Mail order and distribution only.)

talking drums 1986-03-17 African musicians in London - Spiritual revivalism sweeps across west africa