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.
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 features it’s original artwork and new interviews with Oghene Kologbo and Sonny Akpan of The Funkees. It’s available now. An edited version of the 15-minute title track is streaming below.
Canada’s powerhouse Afro / Latin / Tropical collective, The Souljazz Orchestra, surface with a hard-hitting new album Resistance for Autumn 2015. In keeping with the band’s previous work, the Orchestra keeps powerful lyrics at the heart of their music, delivering some biting social commentaries alongside messages of hope.
Having already shared the video for “Shock And Awe,” here’s another reason to get excited for the forthcoming album. “Bull’s Eye” was directly inspired by the Occupy movement,” says bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Chrétien. “The bull in the song refers to the Charging Bull on Wall Street, the iconic symbol of unbridled capitalism. The lyrics tell the rest of the story.” The heavy afro funk workout is available for free download, and is streaming below.
Resistance is released 4th September 2015 on Strut (on Do Right in Canada). Pre-orders are available now at online retail and the Strut Store.
The Souljazz Orchestra continue to evolve their sound and scope, while at the same time retaining their original line-up, going back to the band’s formation in 2002. As you can imagine, this makes for some incredibly tight playing. The band’s practially psychic connection is on full display in the music video for “Shock And Awe,” shot on a freeway overpass in the band’s home city of Ottawa.
“That whole day was crazy,” explains bandleader Pierre Chrétien. “Cars were honking the whole time, crowds gathered. Someone even called the cops on us, thinking we were kids throwing rocks off the bridge. A cop showed up with a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. The officer was cool and the reporter took shots of us – we ended up on page 2 of the paper the next day. They called it “Not A Rock Group” because we weren’t throwing rocks…”
“Shock And Awe” is the first single from the upcoming album Resistance, out September 4th on Strut. The track is available on streaming services, and as a free download with pre-orders of the album: http://lnk.to/SJO_ShockAndAwe
“Best thing I’ve put on the stereo in some time” – Marco Werman
The self-titled album from Ghanaian legend Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is something of a reunion, re-uniting Thomas with past collaborators that include Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen. Brimming with authentic West African highlife and afro funk, the album highlight “Me Ho Asem” is streaming below.
From the album’s liner notes:
An “Africo” crossover style typical of early 1970s Accra in the style of Osibisa and Alhaji K Frimpong. It’s one of the most funky tracks on the album and features some superb harmonic and melodic touches. Thomas’s lyrics are defiant: “This is my life, my turn. You can talk about all my problems and dance in my misery. But it’s not going to be like that forever. You can talk all you want but things will always get better for me.”
The track features a yearning trumpet solo from another Ghanaian legend, Osei Tutu. Osei was a member of Hedzolleh Sounds and also played alongside Ebo and Pat in the Sweet Beans.
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is released June 16th on Strut. Pre-orders are available on iTunes, Amazon & the Strut Store.
As they make their way across Europe, it’s a full-on party when Orlando Julius hits the stage with The Heliocentrics. Recorded live in Brussels, this performance of “Aseni” shows the stage ablaze with synchronized dance moves and razor sharp musicianship. Make sure to catch this show when they come through your city!
European Tour Dates
11th: Ljubjana SLO / Kino Siska
12th: Rome IT / Teatro Quirinetta
13th: Bologna IT / Locomotiv Club
14th: Turin IT / Scuola Holden (General Store)
15th: Milan IT / Biko Club
19th: Arhus DEN / Atlas
20th: Copenhagen DEN / Global
21st: Stockholm SWE / Fasching
The music of Nigeria’s reclusive synth funk innovator William Onyeabor has reached a new level of exposure via Luaka Bop’s excellent Who Is William Onyeabor? compilation last year, yet many hard facts about Onyeabor’s biography remain elusive. In their new documentary “Fantastic Man,” Noisey speaks with musicians and champions of Onyeabor’s music, including our own Quinton Scott and Duncan Brooker who included the sublime “Better Change Your Mind” on the first Nigeria 70 compilation, about their appreciation for his music, and the search for the facts about his life.