African Compact Discs Outernational

The Very Best of Éthiopiques (mantcd245) (2007)


(Columbus, Ohio) – Citing the lack of decent second-hand product and a higher retail profile, area coffee shop employee Claude Barnet has declared the “era of the vinyl revival” over.

“With of all these Johnny-Come-Lately overfishing,” Barnet explained, “there’s nothing worth having at any of my Thrift Stores or Flea Markets.”

“I mean, I can only look at so many Kenny friggin’ Rogers records,” he added bitterly.

Barnet also blamed the internet for allowing people to research their Lp collections and sell them at inflated prices. “I had hoped that there would be a ‘race to the bottom’,” the bearded barista recalled. “You know, with a huge stock, prices would be forced down as everyone competed for sales.” But it hasn’t panned out that way and Barnet claims record sellers are charging “like ten bucks for a crappy, used No One’s Gonna Change Our World budget line re-issue. It’s a joke.”

When you add to that new and re-issued vinyl’s increasing market share, the hipster is being squeezed out.  “And, of course, now big High Street retailers like HMV have gotten in on the act and started selling vinyl again,” complained Barnet. “I mean, Christ, you can buy Kylie Lps and ABBA re-issues these days!”

The good news is that now everyone’s getting rid of their compact discs.  “I’ve bought loads lately,” he enthused. “Including a sweet two-disc Éthiopiques comp and a deluxe Trouble Man soundtrack CD that I’d never have gotten on stupid old vinyl.”

Barnet also praised CDs’ digital clarity (“none of that awful, distracting crackle”), convenience, ability to hold a considerable number of songs, bonus tracks as well as their informative booklets and scholarship.

“Yep, CDs are definitely the way of the future,” Barnet said thoughtfully, adding, “At least until the cassette thing takes off.”

African Albums Outernational

Afro Rock Festival (2870 311) (1973)

AfroBy 1973 we’d had folk-rock, space-rock, country-rock and art-rock. And that was just the Byrds. So why couldn’t Afro Rock be the Next Big Thing? Well, if your idea of Afro Rock is a couple transplanted  South Africans playing “Louie, Louie” in as un-funky a way possible with Prog Rockers Jade Warrior, then there are very good reasons why not. Fortunately, Simba only gets two tracks.

Osibisa is the main attraction here and they sound pretty good; but bear in mind, Afro Rock Festival was produced in the UK and designed to appeal to slightly outré domestics, not Africans. So, Assagai’s psychedelic wig-out “Jabula” aside, one isn’t going to confuse Contour’s well-meaning, but tepid safari with a Soundway comp of rare Ghanaian 45s.

And Afro Rock never did become the Next Big Thing.

PS: Note how the sashaying neck beads precisely cover up the nips on both background dancers. Lol.

The only other record I’ve got on Contour (the UK budget label subsidiary of Polydor) is a collaboration between the Swingle Singers and the Modern Jazz Quartet–the nexus of which almost caused a disruption in the Thrifty Vinyl space-time continuum, such was epochal nature of the meeting. Unsurprisingly, the cover is poor compared to the original.

Afro Rock Festival came from the Etchinghill bootfair a couple Saddy’s ago at the cost of 50p.

African Albums Gospel Outernational

Kings Messengers Quartet – Birth of Our King (BMC 559) (1983)


NOW (week of 21/5/2012) for SALE on eBAY!

There are no outward designs suggesting that this is a Christmas record, but the title makes it explicit: Long-running South African gospel quartet Kings Messengers’ The Birth of Our King album celebrates the holy Exit of our Saviour, Jesus H. Christ, from His Mother, Mary Christ’s glorious birth canal, which official, irrefutable records indicate occurred on Christmas Day 25th December 0000.

I was kinda hoping for a more African take on the Xmas story, but this is an orthodox (both ecumenically and rhythmically), middle-of-the-road, mostly a capella gospel Lp, whose repertoire wouldn’t be out-of-place in the most conservative C of E village parish, even if four tracks are sung in, I’m guessing, Zulu. More information can be gleaned from the excellent Electric Jive blogspot.

I had to step over several rutting, MDMA-crazed teenagers to get to this when I purchased in from a chaz this summer in Newquay. The lady gave me a funny look when I brought my selection to the counter as if it was the last thing she expected me to buy and why didn’t I get that nice OMD record instead.

To paraphrase The Onion, sometimes labels help save time.

African Albums Outernational

Missa Luba – Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin (Phillips)

This is an odd record that somehow sounds exactly like you expect it too.  Backed by plangent congas and shaker accompaniment, full of improvised call and response, all in the tradition of Africa and her diaspora and devoid of any European feel otherwise, Missa Luba‘s Catholic message may be it’s strangest feature.  Pangs of post-Colonial guilt further muddy the waters regarding my feelings for this deep music.

I paid Oxfam £1.99 for Missa Luba (high for me, low for them), having been first attracted by its resemblance to the UK pressing of Jazzman’s fabulous Spiritual Jazz double Lp.