Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Search of African Vinyl

I don't know much about this film/music project apart for this trailer, but it looks to be intriguing and very enjoyable:

update: more here
and Frank has his own blog here:

Jamaica has still not been depleted of its vinyl musical treasures from decades past (the major difference being that in JA they are still repressing vinyl from original masters - in Africa this seems to be not the case), and it appears the time is right to save as much as possible of the vinyl output from the African nations - I would guess that the hot period for this Frank guy in the video would be the mid to late 60s and early to mid 70s. What I've heard from that time can be quite mind blowing.

The suggestion by Frank that that all western music comes from African music is a bit silly - but the fusion of existing folk songs, rhythms and melodies with imported funk and soul from the US and European pop that these African musicians made often transcended and in some ways improved on its influences. Reggae did more or less the same thing which is probably why I personally see and hear the parallel. And then some of it is just plain original and ground breaking (JA or Africa!)

Looking forward to the full length film whenever it turns up.
Looking at Frank's blog it is clear that the man is very much healthily obsessed with this music and I find the enthusiasm and the artwork for the albums and the sheer scale of his endeavour a great encouragement to hear more African music of the time.

Much to his credit Tom at Music Thing linked this video back in July. Thanks Tom.

Note: vinyl is apparently virtually indestructible certainly compared to tape or hard drives, so if you have anything nice and rare, hold on to it and look after it. And rip it (high quality) and share it...

1 comment:

Frank said...

Hey! Thanx for the plug.
I might have not made myslelf clear enough. Of course there's plenty of American, Caribbean and even some European influence to be heard in the African Pop music I've been digging up down there. But: Even though I'm no musicologist, I think that it's pretty safe to say that Africa is the most important source of all pop music. I mean without Africans, what kind of popular music whould have developed in the US? Probably some decisively unfunky fusion of Irish Folk and Polka.

or take Salsa as an example, Danialou Sagbohan from Benin told me in an interview that Salsa originally is a rhtythm from his home village that has been used in Voodoo rituals since the beginning of time. A friend told me that Ned Sublette in his book "Cuba and its music" (that i have not yet read myself) also comes to the conclusion that Salsa is in fact an African rhythm.

It always kind of rubbed me the wrong way to read about how some people feel that African Pop music would be too much influenced by music from the outside and not be "proper" African music. You often have to look up African Pop music under "World Music" or "Ethno" (both terms which I despise). I don't want to start rambling here and maybe as a born German, I shouldn't even feel all this passionately about these issues but I really think that African Pop Music should be treated as nothing less but "African Music", an accomplishment of this beatiful continent that symbolises the "homecoming" of its music that had changed and picked up new influences on its way around the world but still remains Afrian.