This year sees an exciting new undertaking from the Strut camp. We’re launching ‘OriginalMasters,’ 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 OriginalMasters 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 OriginalMasters 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.
In 2006, blind kondi (thumb piano) player Sorie Kondi was surviving by busking on the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone, abandoned by relatives and friends who had fled the rebel takeover of the city in the late ‘90s. Demos for his debut studio album had also been lost during that time. His sound was marked by his electrified Kondi, run through a small distorted amplifier that he carried on his back whilst performing on the street.
Since then, Sorie has recorded and finished five albums in total in Freetown, using whatever means available to him, culminating in the ‘Without Money No Family’ album, which happened to catch the ear of US producer / DJ Chief Boima (also of Sierra Leonean descent) after chancing upon a YouTube link.
The two joined forces as Kondi Band, combining Sorie Kondi’s traditionalist performances with Boima’s globally-informed electronic production. The duo released an EP this year on Strut, recently performed acclaimed sets to thousands at Transmusicales and Womex, and have received accolades from tastemakers including Gilles Peterson, leading to a recent takeover of Worldwide FM by Boima. With a Kondi Band album, ‘Salone’, coming in 2017, Boima has created a free mix to showcase Kondi’s incredible history.
As well as collecting songs from across Sorie Kondi’s recorded music career, this mix also includes one original and two remixes of songs from the forthcoming debut Kondi Band album. The mix is available now for free download on the Kondi Band Bandcamp.
Keep up with Kondi band on Facebook as they tour and prepare to release their debut album.
On the eve of embarking on a European tour, the spiritual jazz ensemble The Pyramids, lead by Idris Ackamoor receive a remix from soulful house producer Chris Deepak. Deepak takes the title track of the Pyramids’ latest album on Strut, adding some low end and a propulsive afro-influenced rhythm.
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids Fall European Tour:
04.11. FR Paris: WorldStock Festival
05.11. CH Luzern: Südpol
06.11. CH Basel: Kaschemme
07.11. DE Augsburg: Grandhotel Cosmopolis
08:11. CZ Praha: Jazzdock
09.11. BE Brussels: Ancienne Belgique
11.11. NL Utrecht: Le Guess Who? Festival
12.11. DE Hamburg: Überjazz Festival
13.11. SE Stockholm: Fasching
18.11. DE Berlin: Prince Charles
19.11. UK London: Café OTO
20.11. UK London: Café OTO
22.11. UK London: Late Junction (recordings)
24.11. DE Frankfurt: Mousonturm
25.11. DE Frankfurt: Mousonturm
Legendary EMI Nigeria producer Odion Iruoje and rare African music collector Temi Kogbe have launched a new label called Odion Livingstone, a brand new venture out of Lagos, Nigeria in association with Strut Records. The label is one of the only imprints based in Nigeria to specialize in new and back catalogue releases from across Africa, bringing a fresh African perspective.
The debut release in January 2017 will be an official reissue of the much in-demand 1983 LP ‘Friday Night’ by Livy Ekemezie, a brilliant one-off independently released disco / funk album originally pressed at William Onyeabor’s pressing plant in Enugu. Further releases will explore a wide variety of Africa’s lost back catalogue gems through original LP reissues and compilations alongside selected new artist recordings.
This Fall, we’re proud to present the first full career retrospective release for Ghanaian highlife master and “The Golden Voice Of Africa,” Pat Thomas, covering his late ‘60s big band highlife recordings through to the “burger highlife” movement of the early ‘80s. With Thomas currently wowing audiences on the road in support of last year’s incredible album with Kwishibu Area Band, Coming Home offers listeners a chance to get to know Thomas’ singular career.
One of Thomas’ earliest tracks, with the Ebo Taylor lead Broadway Dance Band, is streaming below. The partnership with Taylor would become one of the enduring forces in Ghanaian music during the ‘70s, creating a fresh, progressive new highlife sound. “Today, highlife has become the world’s music,” says Thomas, “and I am proud to still bring it to so many people.”
Pat Thomas – Coming Home is released 30th September on 2CD, 3LP and digital formats, and features exclusive photos and a full interview with Pat Thomas. Pre-orders are available now.
In the early 1970s, Yorkshireman Peter Bagshawe was living in Zambia, pursuing an interest in steam trains. He ended up as the de facto manager for one of the greatest Afro Rock bands of the era. How all of this came to pass is story you’ll have to hear him tell. Thankfully, he sat down via Skype recently to recount his time managing Sunburst.
Our Ave Africa compilation, which collects the Tanzanian band’s entire recorded output, is available now on CD, LP & digital formats.
On the occasion of the first-ever retrospective of Tanzanian Afro-Rock band Sunburst, longtime Strut associate and compiler of the Nigeria 70 series Duncan Brooker presents a selection of some of Sunburst’s peers and contemporaries via this incredible mix of rare East African 45s. Duncan’s incredible mix premieres today on Stereogum.
Ave Africa: The Complete Recordings 1973-1976 is released 24th June on Strut. For a limited time, orders from the Strut web store & Bandcamp have the option to include a limited edition cassette featuring unreleased Sunburst demos recorded in Lusaka in 1976. 100 copies only! Pre-orders are available now.
1. SUNBURST – SIMBA ANGURUMA
2. NDARA MOYO – THAT’S THE WAY
3. SALOMON NGOUA – SHE’S GOT A SNAKE
4. NGOZI FAMILY – SUKUMA SEMEJI
5. SUNBURST – BANCHIKICHA
6. AFRO 70 – PEMBENYI MOTO
7. VIJANA JAZZ BAND – DIBWEWZE ZOGOLO JANGU
8. TABORA JAZZ BAND – HASIRA HASARA
9. SUNBURST – VIJANA
10. THE AFRO-KIDS – SHOREZA INYANGE
11. THE SAFARI TRIPPERS – MWANA MPOTEVU
12. MAQUIS DU ZAIRE – KASONGO
13. CASSIM COMBO – CHAKACHA
14. THE MIGHTY CAVALIERS – DUNIA INA MAMBO
Kondi Band is an inspired collaboration between Sierra Leonean kondi (thumb piano) player Sorie Kondi and US producer / DJ Chief Boima, who himself has Sierra Leonean roots.
The project was spawned after Boima happened upon an online video of one of Sorie’s original tracks. “Sorie Kondi is a blind musician with a will to thrive like no person I have met before,” explains Boima. “My work with him began with a YouTube link. I spotted the video for his track ‘Without Money No Family’ and was struck by his beautiful vocals and socially-conscious lyrics. These incredible melodies he was playing on his namesake thumb piano (the kondi) sealed the deal: I immediately decided to remix it.”
The resulting bootleg remix started appearing in DJ playlists and led to coverage by The Fader magazine. As a result, Sorie’s manager in Freetown reached out to Boima and, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Sorie travelled to America for the first time for a five date tour. During the trip he and Boima worked on new recordings which form the nucleus of the debut Kondi Band album ‘Belle Wahalah.’
“This project forges a direct link between techno born in the black cities of the American Mid-West, where I grew up, and roots African music,” Boima continues. “Sorie Kondi may be playing an acoustic folk instrument from Sierra Leone, but he thinks about music as if he were a techno producer. The dance-friendly pulse of his cajon drum, the spiraling melody lines from the thumb piano and his incredible vocals hold it all together.” 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.
The first EP from the project is built around Sorie’s personal and uncompromising lyrics on ‘Belle Wahalah’, a song that uses belly pain as a metaphor for poverty, hunger and lack of financial opportunity. Mixes come from South London-based producer Hagan and the “father of Ancestral Soul”, Boddhi Satva. The release also features another simmering Kondi band original, ‘Yeanoh (Powe Handa Blingabe)’ which translates as ‘what’s up / what’s occurring’?
The ‘Belle Wahalah’ EP is out today on digital formats. A vinyl 12″ is due 27th May. A full-length album is in the works for September 2016. Hear the EP title track ‘Belle Wahalah’ below.
Strut is extremely proud to present a definitive collection of recordings from one of Tanzania’s most revered but short-lived bands of the 1970s, Sunburst. Covering their entire output from 1973 to 1976, this first retrospective features music from their 45 RPM singles “Moto Moto” and “TFC,” as well as their sole album, Ave Africa, and an unreleased radio session recorded in Tanzania in 1973.
Sunburst was formed in 1970 by Zairean guitarist Hembi Flory Kongo who recruited resident drummer Johnny “Rocks” Fernandes, bass player Bashir Idi Farhan and organist / vocalist Kassim Magati. They were soon joined by Zambian-born lead singer James Mpungo.
Having developing their sound via covers-heavy live performances and a string of early singles, Sunburst’s sole LP came out at a time when Zambia was enjoying a stream of releases by bands that would now be considered icons of Zamrock such as Witch, Ngozi Family, Musi-O-Tunya and The Blackfoot. The sleeve text described the Sunburst sound as “a fusion of the traditional sounds of Africa with Western Rock, spiced with a piece of the Caribbean” but the intricacies of the Kitoto Sound that Sunburst had crafted for years peaked on this recording. Band members born in six different countries were tapping into a multitude of influences, styles, languages and stories. “We try to compose songs that have a bearing to the situation we live in,” James Mpungo recounted at the time. “Our songs are songs that support freedom struggles, songs that encourage peasants and workers to work harder, songs in praise of our leaders. We also sing a lot of songs criticizing our people for allowing themselves to be too westernized and throwing away their traditional values. And above all, we preach love and happiness!”
Ave Africa: The Kitoto Sound Of East Africa 1973-1976 is the result of over three years of research by compilers DJ Thomas Gesthuizen and Dave Tinning and comes out 24th June on 2xCD, 2xLP (w. CD included) & digital formats. Stream the track “Simba Anguruma” below. Pre-orders are available now.
Limited Demos Cassette With Strut Web Store Orders
A very limited quantity of pre-orders via the Strut Store and Bandcamp will include a cassette copy of of unreleased Sunburst demos recorded in Lusaka in 1976. 100 copies only! Pre-orders for this special bundle are available now.
Ghanaian vocalist Pat Thomas and his all-star Kwashibu Area Band are setting out on an absolutely massive tour this summer. Performing material from last year’s self-titled album as well as highlights from throughout Thomas’ long career, this string of shows are an amazing opportunity to catch a living master of African highlife in the flesh. A highlight at last year’s Womex festival, the band will be taking their phenomenal live show across Europe from May.
The album Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is out now on CD, 2LP (w. CD included) & digital formats.