Review: There's no denying that Quem E Quem is arguably the standout album by Joao Donato, a star of Brasil's MPB (short for "musica populera brasileira") scene who continues to record to this day. The album is naturally heavily influenced by American soul and jazz-funk, but has an altogether more pastoral tone, with Donato's dewy-eyed, heart-felt vocals coming gift-wrapped in gentle samba and bossanova melodies, Pat Metheny style guitar solos, breeze-fresh flute solos and jaunty pianos. It's a blend that results in a superb mixture of up-tempo cuts and more reflective songs, all of which are as delightful as slowly watching the sun set somewhere hot and sunny.
Review: Afro disco fresh from 79: Eko Roosevelt Louis's third album Funky Disco Music will go down as one of Cameroon's finest disco LPs. Produced and pressed by French label Dragon Phenix, it's still reasonably easy to track down, too. For a taster, grab three of its tropical charms on this Fly By Night repress: "Funky Disco Music" is an infectious vocal-led cut that's written solely to make people get down, "Ndolo Embe Mulema" struts with much more Afro rock fusion while the harmonies of "Bowa'a Mba Ngebe" are sweeter than the finest honey you've ever tasted. For contemporary kicks Riccio has expertly touched the title track for a modern dancefloor/DJ friendly punch. Perfect.
Review: According to the dusty-fingered diggers behind Bongo Joe Disques, General Franco Lee Ezute is the "aficionado's choice" when it comes to the "Anioma sound", a variant on the Igbo highlife style that was popular in Nigeria during the 1970s and '80s. If you are unsure what the style sounds like, we'd recommend checking this reissue of "Onye Kata Obia", an obscure, four-track release from the musician and his backing band, Harmony International, that was most likely recorded around the turn of the '80s. Full of glistening guitars, heartfelt vocals and insatiable, dancefloor-friendly rhythms, it's one of the most joyous and sun-soaked records you're ever likely to hear.
Fruko Y Sus Tesos - "A La Memoria Del Muerto" (4:25)
Combo De Los Galleros - "Soledad" (2:46)
Review: For this 7" single, label boss Nik Weston took a deep dive into the vast back catalogue of Discos Fuentes, Columbia's oldest record label (it was founded in 1934, fact fans). On the A-side you'll find "A La Memoria Del Muerto" by long serving salsa outfit Fruko Y Suis Tesos, a typically jaunty, dusty and celebratory workout that was originally released on a now hard-to-find 7" single sometime in the early 1970s. Over on the B-side, Weston takes us on a trip to the early days of Cumbia via El Combo Los Galleros's brilliant 1963 album cut "Soledad", which still sounds heavy, punchy and intoxicating 44 years after it was recorded, and has been a staple in the bags of top selectors such as Hunee, Red Greg, Kai Alce, Dom Servini & Craig Charles from BBC 6!
Review: Following 2012's fourth volume that celebrated the existential work of Tim Maia, here we find Luaka Bop exploring the legacy of William Onyeabor. A high chief and Kenyan diplomat who allegedly refuses to discuss his music, he self-released eight albums in the 70s and 80s and these are some of the many highlights. Stretching from the New York-influenced post-punk synth funk of "Good Name" to the most authentic Afro fusion of "Why Go To War", Onyeabor's range not only reflects his clear creative skill, but also the ever-developing international language of music during the fruitful period he was active. Who is William Onyeabor? Press play and find out yourselves...
Dur Dur Band - "Duruuf Maa Laygu Diidee (Rejected Due To My Circumstance)" (feat Muqtar Idi Ramadan)
Iftiin Band - "Anaa Qaylodhaanta" (feat Mahmud Abdalla "Jerry" Hussen)
Review: In 1988, on the eve of the civil war that began to tear apart Somalia in the early 1990s, an intrepid band of broadcasters and journalists secretly salvaged some 10,000 cassettes of homegrown music from the archives of Radio Hargeissa in Somaliland. Almost 30 years on, those tapes have finally been mined for Sweet As Broken Dates, a brilliant compilation that finally showcases some of the multitude of gems that were recorded and released in the country between the late '60s and early '90s. It's a brilliant collection, all told, full of exotic music that combines Western styles - soul, funk, disco, pop, reggae, boogie, psychedelic rock and even early hip-hop- with musical influences from the wider region (most notably Arabic and tropical music from islands in the Indian Ocean). In other words, it should be an essential purchase.
Abdel El Aziz Al Mubarak - "Ma Kunta Aarif Yarait (I Wish I Had Known)"
Kamal Tarbas - "Min Ozzalna Seebak Seeb (Forget Those That Divide Us)"
Madjzoub Ounsa - "Arraid Arraid Ya Ahal (Love, Love Family)"
Khojali Osman - "Malo Law Safeetna Inta (What If You Resolve What's Between Us?)"
Zaidan Ibrahim - "Ma Hammak Azabna (You Don't Care About My Suffering)" (live)
Saied Khalifa - "Igd Allooli (The Pearl Necklace)"
Taj Makki - "Ma Aarfeen Nagool Shino! (We Don't Know What To Say!)"
Hanan Bulu Bulu - "Alamy Wa Shagiya (My Pain And Suffering)" (live)
Abdelmoniem Ekhaldi - "Droob A Shoag (Paths To Love)"
Samira Dunia - "Galbi La Tahwa Tani (My Heart, Don't Fall In Love Again)"
Mohammed Wardi - "Al Sourah (The Photo)"
Abdullah Abdelkader - "Al Zaman Zamanak (It's Your Time)"
Mustafa Modawi & Ibrahim El Hassan - "Al Wilaid Al Daif (The Youth Who Came As A Guest)"
Ibrahim El Kashif - "Elhabeeb Wain? (Where Is My Sweetheart?)"
Mohammed Wardi - "Al Mursal (The Messenger)"
Review: Before a hard line religious government seized control of Sudan via a 1989 coup, the country had one of the richest musical scenes in the world. This fine two-disc compilation from Ostinato brilliantly chronicles the various strands of this scene, focusing especially on music made in the capitol city, Khartoum. Fired by tum tum and Nubian rhythms, the set shuffles through the Arabian-inspired violin and accordion-heavy orchestral music of the 1970s, synthesizer and drum machine-driven cuts of the 1980s, and more polished later recordings produced by local artists who had fled persecution in the 1990s. There's naturally much to enjoy throughout, including a clutch of rare live recordings and some of the most beguilding, heart-felt songs ever to come out of East Africa.