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Africa 45's 1 & 2 - Mr Bongo tells his digging stories

Our new Africa 45's series is now available exclusively at Mr Bongo. In this post David 'Mr Bongo' reveals how he first came across these tracks and explains why they were chosen to launch the series

Amazones de Guinee - Samba (AFR45.01)

To start the series I wanted to launch with a heavy hitter. 'Amazones de Guinee - Samba’ is a high energy African funk with a powerful vocal, recorded live in Paris in 1983. Hailing from Guinea they were the countries first all female group, formed by members of Guinean army nonetheless. Their lead percussionist Kade Diallo was killed in a car crash just days after returning from a tour of France in the early 80’s. The group did not record again until 2008, but they continue to tour now, with a new generation of fans.

I used to go digging in Paris back in the early 90’s, hunting for cassettes and vinyl. It was in a small shop called Crocodisc that I came across the album - ‘Au Coeur De Paris’. This live album from 1983 is something something a little special. I knew that Gilles Peterson used to play the track ‘Samba’, but other than him I hadn’t heard anyone else playing it. I think that as it was a live recording this caused people to shy away from it, but it still absolutely works. 

I wanted it to be the first track on the series as I wanted it to be a statement about what the series is all about, and to give people an indication of what they can expect from our Africa 45’s. ‘Samba’ is certainly a DJ cut, but not necessarily an obscurity. Africa 45’s will of course feature some seriously rare tracks, but that isn’t the requirement for release. When it comes to reissues, its not always about super rare, there are some records (such as ’Samba’) that are findable, but still undiscovered by many. 

Moussa Doumbia - Samba (AFR45.01)

Malia born Moussa Doumbia was a prolific saxophonist, composer and arranger, who lived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He fused African and Funk rhythms in his own unique style, comparable to the likes of Fela Kuti, Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou and Ebo Taylor. Moussa’s voice is strongly reminiscent of the almighty James Brown

Similarly to Fela and The Shrine, Moussa played at ‘Boule Noire’, a club in the cosmopolitan area of his town, Treichville. Every night they would play their own styles for hours to rich businessmen and locals. ‘Samba’ is taken from his 1980 LP ‘Lassissi Presente Moussa Doumbia’ released on the legendary Sacodis label. Sacodisc were a groundbreaking label experimenting in Afro-Latin crossovers, and run by the great Lassissi (from the Ivory Coast). We used to sell a lot of Sacodis records at the Mr Bongo Latin shop back in the days. These were mainly Salsa cross-over albums, such as Monguito, and Labi Sosseh, but I spotted the Moussa Doumbia album in a flea-market in Paris and bought it blind. I knew the label was very consistent so thought it was worth a punt. I like to think I was right on this one. 

‘Samba' is a funky dance floor cut, and that is something we want to deliver on each release. This track is extremely hard to find, so I think there will be a fair few delighted DJs getting themselves a copy.



Moussa Doumbia - Keleya (AFR45.02) 

The second track from Moussa in as many records, and deservedly so. Keleya is a organ lead, afro-funk bomb with Moussa in full James Brown effect. Taken from the LP of the same title, originally released in 1977 on Pathe, and on 7” by Ivory Coast label SID in 1974. Suffice to say, they are expensive and rare.

I have been trying to license the Sacodis records catalogue for the past 15 years and have never really got anywhere. This year a friend of ours at Orika Records opened up doors for us and we were able to make it happen for this series. The 45’ version of this track is different to the album cut and is therefore one we know fellow diggers are on the look out for. You may have also heard it recently when Four Tet dropped it in a Rinse FM set that got the collectors hot under the collar.

Amadou Balake - Super Bar Konon Mousso (AFR45.02) 

Amadou Balake has made a lot of good records and is mainly known for his Afro-Charanga cross-over. I first found out about Amadou through a great cut he did called ‘Whiskey Soda’. I put this track on the series as its so damn funky and it needs to be owned by as many people as possible. Razor sharp, percussion heavy, guitar lead afro-latin funk - total killer.

It was taken from the LP of the same name, released by the Sacodisc label again. Balake travelled to the USA in the 1970’s to record with salsa musicians - recording and releasing albums with the likes of Monguito, Labi Sosseh, the great Amadou and Sweet Talks from Ghana.

I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into these incredible records. I know you are going to love what else we have coming up for you in the series.

Ciao - Mr Bongo.

Browse the Africa 45's series here.