Strut present the first ever new international studio album by one of the all-time great African big bands, Orchestre Les Mangelepa. “Last Band Standing” is out now! Comprising Congolese musicians who settled in Kenya, Les Mangelepa helped drive the East African evolutionary spur of one of the greatest musical artforms, African rumba, during the 1970s.
Developing a regular residency in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park at the Park Inn, Mangelepa began to draw huge crowds. Their early recordings helped them to establish their authority, released on contemporary labels like Jojo and Tobina. Alongside a spectacular horn section they were known for their tight vocals and bittersweet, poetic lyrics and, during the late ‘70s, Mangelepa’s stage shows were an unsurpassed breath-taking circus. They held a wide appeal across a spectrum of Kenyans; Congolese (Lingala) music was hugely popular and Mangelepa’s Swahili lyrics used the genre and brought Kenyans together across ethnic divisions. The popular music of Kenya at that time included Benga from the shores of Lake Victoria and Chakacha from the coast; Les Mangelepa became skilful and adept songwriters, harnessing the energy from these other music styles.
The band’s fame spread across East Africa, scoring household hits in Kenya with songs like ‘Maindusa’ and ‘Embakasi’. In the late ‘70s, under George Opiyo’s management, they embarked on lengthy tours of Uganda and Malawi and returned to their long-running Nairobi residency at Garden Square. In 1982 they headed to Zimbabwe via Tanzania and Zambia and, after breaking into two factions, made several acclaimed albums including ‘Safari Ya Mangelepa’ and ‘Madina’ for PolyGram.
In 2016, Les Mangelepa finally made it out of Africa, touring Europe including the Afrika Festival in Hertme, Netherlands. This new album, recorded by No Nation’s Guy Morley, encapsulates some of their best-loved material, re-recorded and brought up to date using the current personnel of their Nairobi Vibro residency. They represent a wonderful era of African music and justifiably warrant the title ‘Last Band Standing’.
Canada’s fastest moving and hardest working collective are back with one of their finest albums to date, ‘Under Burning Skies’, a brand new journey into tropical, soul and jazz styles. It’s out now.
Turbulent times call for strong voices and The Souljazz Orchestra’s new set packs a suitably heavy lyrical punch, with wry observations and an urge for progressive change. Musically, the band continue to push the limits, dusting off ‘80s vintage synthesizers and early drum machines for the first time, bringing lo fi disco, boogie and electro touches to their trademark horn arrangements and earthy analogue sound. The fruits are a-plenty and the group sound at their confident and versatile best from start to finish.
Opener ‘Dog Eat Dog’ powers in, lambasting the powerful and the corrupt over an infectious Afro-disco groove; ‘Lufunki’ takes the group right back to their B-Boy roots, bringing the Afro vibes to Beat Street and ‘Is Yeelyel’ delivers a killer rework of an obscure original by Somalian super-group Dur-Dur Band. The band go on exploring their passion for French Caribbean styles on the beautiful, lilting ‘Oublier Pour Un Jour’ and ‘Tambour À Deux Peaux’ and they take time for reflection on the potent instrumental title track and poignant closer ‘Aduna Jarul Naawo’, featuring the vocals of Élage Mbaye.
The release coincides with another monster tour schedule throughout the Autumn.
Following this years’ storming Glastonbury performance Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band are back to perform in Europe at YAAM Berlin on 28th September. “The Golden Voice Of Africa”, Pat Thomas performs alongside the Kwashibu Area Band curated by multi-instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm). Tickets are available here.
Pat Thomas released his first full career retrospective “Coming Home” on Strut last autumn.
Strut present a brand new compilation documenting the groundbreaking maloya scene on Réunion Island from the mid-‘70s, as Western instrumentation joined traditional Malagasy, African and Indian acoustic instruments to spark a whole era of new fusions and creativity. Compiled by Réunionese DJ duo La Basse Tropicale, ‘Oté Maloya’ is out now on CD and LP as well as digital formats. The CD and LP versions include an extensive booklet featuring the history of maloya by Nathalie Valentine Legros of 7 Lames Lamer.
‘Oté Maloya’ tells the story of this fertile period in Réunion Island music for the first time and features the full spectrum of maloya styles. From Caméléon’s genius to the teenage Michou’s classic ‘Maloya Ton Tisane’, Daniel Sandié’s breakbeat sleeper ‘Défoule 3e Age’ and more traditional styles from Maxime Lahope and Pierrot Vidot, this is an essential trip through a lost era of Indian Ocean blues and soul. ‘It follows up last year’s acclaimed ‘Soul Sok Séga’ release on Strut.
Shina Williams’ monster Nigerian disco anthem ‘Agboju Logun’ is out now on Strut featuring original artwork and all musicians’ credits and is fully remastered by The Carvery. The 12″ reissue pairs the rare original album version (released on Phonodisk Nigeria) with the more sparse 12” remix which surfaced later internationally on Earthworks. This is the third release on STRUT’S new Original Masters Series.
Back in 1979 when ‘Agboju Logun’ first appeared on his ‘African Dances’ LP, Williams knew well that the track was breaking new ground. “I want to show the whole wide world that Africa is alive with modern musicians to reckon with anywhere,” he stated. Now an accepted Afro disco classic of its time, ‘Agboju Logun’ did indeed bring together the cream of Nigeria’s players as a one-off supergroup in one inspired session. As a long-standing and well respected highlife musician and vocalist, Williams called in the ‘A’ list: Tunde Martins from Afro Collective played bass guitar, the brilliant Biddy Wright (player on albums by Lijadu Sisters, Blo and many more) contributed the famous synth lines and handled production, Fred Fisher was on trombone and Saliu Alabi played talking drum.
Enjoying limited success upon its release in Nigeria, ‘African Dances’ nevertheless gained some international attention when Earthworks’ Jumbo Van Renan licensed two tracks from it for an international 12” single release in 1984, remixing ‘Agboju Logun’ in a more stripped back mix for dancefloors. However, it was the period following Fela Kuti’s death in the late ‘90s that truly ignited interest in archive African grooves for a new internet generation. Strut’s first ‘Nigeria 70’ compilation featured the track in 2000 and it has been a staple in DJs’ crates ever since.
Kondi Band, the inspired Afro-electronic collaboration between Sierra Leonean kondi (thumb piano) player Sorie Kondi and US producer / DJ Chief Boima, who himself has Sierra Leonean roots, has announced their debut LP Salone, is out now.
The album follows the release of 2016’s Belle Wahallah EP, which spawned a #1 Spotify Viral Chart hit in the form of the track “Yeanoh (Powe Handa Blingabe),” as well as The Freetown Tapes, a free collection of Kondi’s solo work in the early 2000’s, mixed by Chief Boima.
According to Boima, the new album “forges a direct link between techno born in the black cities of the American Mid-West, where I grew up, and roots African music. Sorie Kondi may be playing an acoustic folk instrument from Sierra Leone, but he thinks about music as if he were a techno producer.” It’s acoustic dance music that creates a sound as full and dynamic as any club track and, through Boima’s intricate production, the album subtly and skillfully integrates contemporary electronic sounds, keeping the simplicity and space in Sorie’s music.
Salone is out now on CD, 2LP, and digital formats.
The track “Titi Dem Too Service” is streaming below.
Strut present the definitive official reissue of this landmark album in the field of African music originally released in 1972. Available now.
Recorded in New York, Mulatu of Ethiopia arrived at a time when Astatke had begun to master the delicate fusion of styles needed to create Ethio jazz. The album represents the first fully formed document of his trademark sound. It features ‘Kulunmanqueleshi’, ‘Dewel’, and ‘Kasalefku-Hulu’, tracks that Mulatu would return to regularly on singles and in live shows, the Ethio-Latin workout ‘Chifara’ and the self-titled groover ‘Mulatu’: “I wanted to make a track for myself!”.
The vinyl version is available both as a standard 1LP format, and as a limited edition 3LP 6-panel gatefold set. The 3LP deluxe edition features the stereo album master, a pre-mix mono master and a selection of out-takes from the sessions, giving the listener rare access to the DNA of the studio process. The full original album will also be available on CD and digital formats. All formats feature a new interview with Mulatu Astatke and rare photos.
Strut and Art Yard present a special release for Record Store Day 2017, the first ever official reissue of Sun Ra’s revered Discipline 27-II LP from 1972.
A product of the same sessions that would yield the legendary Space Is the Place LP, the recordings for the album took place on the 19th and 20th of October, 1972 at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, with the largest Arkestra line-up Sun Ra had yet taken into a studio session. The date was produced by Impulse! and Riverside veteran Ed Michel and, for the first time, the Arkestra was recorded in quadraphonic sound.
This first official reissue of Discipline 27-II was prepared in conjunction with Art Yard and Sun Ra LLC. The album is restored from the original master tapes and features complete original artwork and new sleeve notes by Francis Gooding.
The album will be released 22nd April 2017 in conjunction with Record Store Day. Check the Record Store Day site for participating retailers.
This year sees an exciting new undertaking from the Strut camp. We’re launching ‘Original Masters,’ a series of essential original LP reissues exploring rare and under-rated African, Latin and Caribbean music classics, curated by leading collector and DJ, Duncan Brooker.
If that right there is enough to let you know that you’ll be needing each of these classic LPs, we’re offering a subscription option which guarantees a copy of each of the four 1LP Original Masters releases we have planned for 2017. Each one is a new pressing of an extremely rare crate essential, so a subscription means you’ll have some great music to look forward to!
*Note, if you’ve already pre-ordered the Joe King Kologbo album and would like to subscribe to the full series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The first release in the Original Masters series arrives February 10th 2017, in the form of an experimental highlife / disco outing by Nigerian highlife guitarist Joe King Kologbo.
Forced to flee Nigeria when the Biafran War broke out in 1967, Kologbo spent the late 60s performing with various outfits in Ghana before returning to Lagos in 1971 and playing with Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Fela’s wider circle of musicians. By the time he recorded the ‘Sugar Daddy’ LP for the tiny Electromat label in 1980, he was one of the older musicians on the circuit.
“Since he was based in the East during his early days, he was not as well known nationally as some of the other highlife players of the time,” says Oghene Kologbo, “so it’s nice that this album is coming out again. It brings back good memories. That Range Rover on the cover – that is Fela’s!”
Joe King Kologbo’s Sugar Daddy is released 10th February 2017 in its original artwork and features new interviews with Oghene Kologbo and Sonny Akpan of The Funkees. Pre-orders are available now. An edited version of the 15-minute title track is streaming below.