Review: These days, Hamad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: The Tamikrest collective is arguably the best-known musical project to emerge yet from the Tuareg people, a nomadic community of "pastoralist peoples" who inhabit the Saharan interior of North Africa. "Tamotait" is their sixth studio album and undoubtedly one of the strongest yet. Their sound is undeniably contemporary, with ear-catching electric guitars and electrified versions of more traditional North African instruments being joined by ear-catching group vocals in their native language, traditional rhythms (mostly played on a rock style drum kit) and nods towards Peter Green style electric blues, Turkish psych-rock and even axe-wielding, punky indie-rock.
Review: The dusty-fingered diggers behind the BBE label have a reputation for unearthing obscure or unreleased gems, though we doubt that they've previously discovered anything quite as significant as this. Ebo Taylor, the undisputed king of Ghanaian "funky-highlife", recorded "Palaver" with his touring band way back in 1980, but for reasons the man himself can't even remember, Nigerian imprint Tabansi Records never got round to releasing it. That remains an odd decision, because "Palaver" shows Taylor at his very best, with the sax and trumpet-laden brilliance of "Make You No Mind" and the righteous, Afrobeat-influenced highlife brilliance of "Help Africa" being every bit as potent as the Ghanaian's most revered work.