|Posing for Malick Sidibe, whose photographs formed part of the recent|
"Everything Was Moving" exhibition at the Barbican in London.
Welcome to the first of my rewind lists, looking back at an incredibly fruitful year of re-issues and the successes of the small(er) labels dedicated to bringing back lost gems and new perspectives into commercial circulation.More than ten years ago the Strut records - encouraged by the success of the first proper African reissue compilation (Nigeria 70) - embarked upon an ambitious programme of reissuing full length artist albums by the likes of Peter King, Tony Allen, Orlando Julius, BLO, Segun Bucknor and others. But unfortunately Strut got bogged down in a financial dispute with Grandmaster Flash and almost didn"t recover. In 2012 it's now clearly an idea whose time has come - witness the almost overwhelming volume of tropical re-issues from Soundway, Strut, Analogue Africa, Mr Bongo, SoulJazz, Mississippi, Secret Stash, Now Again/Stones Throw, Teranga Beat, Kindred Spirits, Honest Jons, Superfly and Sofrito. Whilst the focus is on individual artists and seminal lost albums, compilations and retrospectives still feature strong. Today's rewind pays respect to these labels and identifies what have been for me the most significant reissues of 2012:Hopeton Lewis: Take It Easy Drum and Bass records in Tokyo have have been lovingly reissuing ska and rocksteady 45s in what is best described as a facsimile mode. Exacting production standards mean a premium priced product. If you have to buy one rock-steady album just make sure it's this one!
CK Mann & His Carousel 7: Funky Highlife An original of this LP will set you back anything from $80-$400 depending on condition. Thanks to Mr Bongo's new foray into original African recordings we now have a fresh re-issue with improved audio and an extended playlist (CD). Always in demand in for titletrack that has been sampled, reversioner and edited to death.
Orlandivo The stand out track on this 1977 album from this Brazilian sambista is Onde Anda meu Amor, which Gilles Peterson compiled on one of his early Brazilian compilations. Kindred Spirits out of the Netherlands provide a "facsimile" reissue with 180g vinyl.
Diablos Del Ritmo - The Colombian Melting Pot 1960 - 1985 Another knock-out and labour of love from Samy Redjeb of Analog Africa, collecting Columbia dance variants. Detailed notes and attention to design and setting the bar very high when it comes to compilations. You can be sure that Samy is out there in another location collecting more 45s to theme a new compilation in time for Spring next year.
Tunji Oyelana - Restrospective A lovely retrospective taking in early material with Tunji's group The Benders and other tracks (including one that includes members of the South African Jazz group The Blues Notes). It's definitely a grower.
Royal Band de Thies Newly uncovered mastertapes from the dawn of mbalax. Anyone who has been stopped in their tracks by the sound of a young Youssour Ndour, or by the Star Band will be knocked out. Favourites of the time - Yaye Boye and Cherie Coco - appear alongside other latin tinged mbalax. Remarkable stuff.
Mahmoud Ahmed and the Ibex Band - Almaz Kings of the obscure Mississippi continue their foray into Africa with more Ethiopian classics. Here they reproduce Ahmed's first LP with the Ibex band. These recordings were first reissued on CD by Buda Musique as part of the Ethiopiques series.
Super Biton National de Segou Kindred Spirits once more keep the good tidings of Malian classics coming. Recorded at Radio Mali under the supervision of Boubacar Traore this is Malian big orchestra blues at its best.
Alfonso Lovo Numbero, who have made a name for themselves with their impressive Eclectic Soul series and over the top box sets, reach and and drop a Nicaraguan psycho-soul and jazz fusion album. Recovered from a single acetate this is another of those "what might have been" moments.
Tim Maia - World Psychedelic Classics Nobody Can Live Forever I was so please to discover that Luaka Bop were compiling Tim Maia for their ongoing series that has previously taken in Os Mutantes, Shuggie Otis and African Funk. You're a lucky person if you can find his early Brazilian LPs and so in the meantime this will just have to do.
Moreno and L'Orchestre First Moja One - Sister Pili +2 East African rumba from Moreno Batamba who played with Samba Mapangala in the early 80s. Timeless joyful dance music.
And that's just a sampling of the cream of the crop. What a good years it's been. There's a mix of tracks from these albums on sound cloud so take a listen.