Heard a really cool filler track this morning on NPR, it after a follow-up comment to a story about
Jazz from the Horn of Africa, but the song on the radio was more funk ala James Brown 1970 (i.e., with the JBs, not the original band). The track was from Ethiopiques Volume 8: Swing Addis.
Happily, the entire series is on emusic, and I immediately downloaded the entire volume 8 album. In addition to funk, there are tracks reminiscent of 60s R&B and British/American movie soundtracks of the era.
There is something quite amazing about some of these old recordings. Like western releases of the time, the gritty low-fi recordings blend with the unmistakably “modern” quality of the music that overproduced contemporary artists can't seem to duplicate (think of how contemporary dance and hip-hop can't match the sound of old disco and R&B). It's music you can play late at night in a retro pad with low colored lights while chilling out with your girlfriend and enjoying the psychoactive substance of your choice.
More specifically, this series suggests a lively and sophisticated scene in Addis Ababa of the early 1970s before decades of dictatorship, starvation, poverty, war and now Islamic fundamentalism at its doorstop. You can read an interesting interview with the producer of the Ethiopiques series.
I am curious to review and explore more of what was going on the world at that time culturaly, as compared to where we find ourselves now. Collectively speaking, we're just not as cool as we used to be. But that's a project for another day…time to light up, groove out and tweak a few knobs (so to speak)…