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Awesome Tapes From Africa Vinyl, CD & Tape 24 Items

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Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band - Wede Harer Guzo
Hailu Mergia - Yene Mircha
Hailu Mergia
Yene Mircha
LP | 2020 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
19,99 €*
Release:2020 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
It's been a long, winding road to Hailu Mergia's sixth decade of musical activity. From a young musician in the 60's starting out in Addis Ababa to the 70's golden age of dance bands to the new hope as an emigre in America to the drier period of the 90s and 2000s when he mainly played keyboard in his taxi while waiting in the airport queue or at home with friends. More recently, with reissue of his classic works and a re-assessment of his role in Ethiopian music history, Mergia has played to audiences big and small in some of the most cherished venues around the world. With 2018's critical breakthrough "Lala Belu" Mergia championed himself and consolidated his legacy, producing the album on his own and connecting with listeners through the sheer creative power of his version of modern Ethiopian music. His subsequent performances revealed an artist who is in no way stuck in the nostalgia for the "golden age" sound. The press agreed, including the New York Times, BBC and Pitchfork, calling his music "triumphantly in the present" in its Best 200 Albums of the 2010's list. Mergia's new album "Yene Mircha" ("My Choice" in Amharic) encapsulates many of the things that make the keyboardist, accordionist and composer-arranger remarkable_elements that have persisted to maintain his vitality all these years, through the ebb and flow of his career. The rock solid trio with whom he has toured the world most recently, DC-based Alemseged Kebede (bass) and Ken Joseph (drums), forms the nucleus around which an expanded band makes a potent response to the contemporary jazz future "Lala Belu" promised. "Yene Mircha" calcifies Mergia's prolific stream of creativity and his philosophy that there is a multitude of Ethiopian musical approaches, not just one sound. Enlisting the help of master mesenqo (traditional stringed instrument) player Setegn Atenaw, celebrated vocalist Tsehay Kassa and legendary saxophone player Moges Habte from his 70's outfit Walias Band, Mergia enhances his bright, electric band on this recording with an expanded line up on some songs. Mergia produced the album which features several of his original compositions along with songs by Asnakesh Worku and Teddy Afro. An artist still reinventing his sound every night on stage during his marathon live sets, this 74-year-old icon refuses to make the same album twice. The album feels as urgent and risky as his concerts can be, pushing the band to the outer limits of group improvisation and back with chord extensions during his exploratory solos. "Yene Mircha" captures this live experience and fosters an expansive view of what else could be in store for this tireless practitioner of Ethiopian music.
Ata Kak - Obaa Sima
Ata Kak
Obaa Sima
LP | 2015 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
20,99 €*
Release:2015 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves, Electronic / Dance
A 1994 tape by Ghanaian musician Ata Kak called Obaa Sima is being reissued by Awesome Tapes From Africa.

The release is the culmination of a 13-year story for Awesome Tapes From Africa founder Brian Shimkovitz, who bought a cassette copy of Obaa Sima from a roadside stall in Cape Coast, Ghana, in 2002. The tape was the subject of the first post on his Awesome Tapes From Africa blog in 2006—the blog spawned a full record label in 2011.

Shimkovitz began searching for Ata Kat and says "Google and endless phone calls provided no leads." It was eventually discovered the musician, real name Yaw Atta-Owusu, had recorded Obaa Sima in Toronto before moving back to Ghana in 2006.

The restoration of the tape proved challenging. Only about 50 copies of the original tape were produced, and Atta-Owusu's master DAT had disintegrated, so the second-hand copy purchased by Shimkovitz was used as the source for the reissue.
Hailu Mergia & The Walias - Tche Belew
Hailu Mergia & The Walias
Tche Belew
LP | 1997 | US | Reissue (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
19,99 €*
Release:1997 / US – Reissue
Genre:Organic Grooves
The album will be released by Awesome Tapes From Africa for the first time outside Ethiopia, with its original track sequence and album art along with exclusive period photos from Mergia’s personal scrapbook.
Dur-Dur Band - Volume 5
Dur-Dur Band
Volume 5
2LP | 1987 | US | Reissue (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
20,99 €*
Release:1987 / US – Reissue
Genre:Organic Grooves
4th strike on Awesome Tapes From Africa, another stunner! The classic Somali band's 1987 recording captures some of the incredible sounds happening in Mogadishu during that era.
Penny Penny - Shaka Bundu
Penny Penny
Shaka Bundu
2LP | 2013 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
20,99 €*
Release:2013 / US – Original
The next Awesome Tapes Africa release is by Penny Penny, a legendary pop singer and current politician from South Africa. Shaka Bundu is his 1994 debut LP, a genre-defining Shangaan disco record of Xitsonga language anthems that launched the impoverished record label janitor into national renown.
Hailu Mergia - Hailu Mergia & Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye
Hailu Mergia
Hailu Mergia & Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye
2LP | 2013 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
22,99 €*
Release:2013 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
This remastered reissue of Mergia's 1985 solo cassette features the multi-instrumentalist handling accordion, analog synth, rhodes piano and drum machine. The all-instrumental album has a distinctly futuristic (circa mid-80s) approach to classic Ethiopian songs and modes.
Hailu Mergia - Yene Mircha
Antoinette Konan - Antoinette Konan
Antoinette Konan
Antoinette Konan
LP | 2019 | EU | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
17,99 €* 19,99 € -10%
Release:2019 / EU – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
It makes sense that Antoinette Konan's eponymous album features nothing more than her ahoko on the cover. The deceptively simple traditional percussion instrument transformed Ivory Coast's Baoulé music scene when Konan deployed it against a roaring electrified backdrop of synth, bass guitar and drum machines. Released in 1986, the album is a veritable UFO of instrumental force and contemporary pop sensibility landing in a boiling pot of diverse, creative characters inhabiting Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire). Known as the "Queen of the Ahoko" among Ivorians, Konan single-handedly put the central-Ivorian instrument on the map when she gave it a 20th-century re-introduction. The three-piece wooden idiophone is handmade from a thin, ribbed, flexible stick, against which a smaller chunk of wood is rhythmically scraped. A hollow nutshell held in the non-scraping hand amplifies and manipulates the resulting overtones. Despite the ahoko's diminutive appearance, Konan and her powerful voice have remained at the forefront of Ivorian music for decades now, in an extremely diverse country_approximately 70 indigenous languages_with a competitive, internationally-recognized music industry.Music plays an important role in Baoulé cultural life, heard and seen in festivities, funerals and more. They are the largest ethnic group in Côte d'Ivoire and descend from Akan peoples who migrated from present-day central Ghana. Baoulé vocal music is characterized by polyphony, melodies built on parallel thirds and call-and-response. All of this can be heard in Konan's music. Konan's fingerprints are all over Antoinette Konan, she says, as it was meant to be a highly personal recording. She wanted to portray the suffering, injustice, frustrations, humiliations, personal career struggles, experience of child birth and poverty she sees in society. Taking on the producer role for the first time, Konan was the architect of her dancefloor-ready neo-traditional sound. But crucial to the recording was arranger Bamba Moussa Yang. A creati...
Nahawa Doumbia - La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Volume 1
Nahawa Doumbia - La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Volume 1
Sourakata Koite - En Hollande
Sourakata Koite
En Hollande
LP | 2019 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
18,99 €*
Release:2019 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Senegalese kora master Sourakata Koite began music from pretty much day one. "All the Koite are musicians!," he says. Indeed he is a member of a family of djeli (or griot in french), the hereditary caste of musician-storyteller-historians in West Africa. After moving to Paris in the late 70s he began to play in different bands and for musicians like Manu Dibango, Toure Kounda, Mangala, Mah Damba and more. During a festival in Holland, a music producer form Plexus Records heard him and asked to make a recording. In 1984 in an old chicken coop near Delft, Koite recorded the entire album in one take, including overdubs. The rich sonics and deep sound beautifully presents Koite's virtuosic and entrancing renditions of traditional and original tunes. With the reissue of en Hollande, Awesome Tapes
From Africa continues its mission of bringing tapes posted on the ATFA website over the years, including this one, to music fans all over the world.
Asnakech Worku - Asnakech
Asnakech Worku
LP | 2018 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
22,99 €*
Release:2018 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
- Backed by Hailu Mergia - Legendary singer/instrumentalist at her mid-1970s prime -
Double LP carefully extracted from cassette and remastered by ATFA family engineer
Jessica Thompson There is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian
history than Asnakech Worku. As a musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon, Asnakech
inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings
as Ethiopia's first theater actress in 1952 to her climb to become one of the most famous
actresses at the National Theater to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician,
Asnakech's inimitable confidence and charm made her a household name. She earned
endless accolades across the artistic spectrum. She made seminal recordings of
unforgettable original compositions, as well as legendary renditions of traditional songs,
that became national staples. With a singular sense of style, glamour and sex appeal that
sometimes stunned mainstream society, Asnakech wore clothes no one else wore and
said things no one else said. Staid notions of how women should dress and behave didn't
apply to her. Battling a mentality that until the early 1950s had men wearing dresses to
play female roles in the theater, Asnakech became a national treasure on her own terms.
Her family wasn't pleased with Asnakech becoming an azmari_an itinerant praise
musician who sings, often in bars, for tips_and didn't bother her, especially after Emperor
Haile Selassie I began to emphasize theater and music in society, officially legitimizing her
career. Asnakech became an internationally-celebrated performer of Ethiopia's ancient
harp, the krar, making her one of the most visible female musicians of the 20th century.
All this while leaving controversy, broken hearts and a changed cultural landscape in her
wake. In 1975, keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia got a call from the owner of
Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording
is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon's singular legacy, remastered and
available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia's
work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene. This trio recording
featuring Mergia on organ and Temare Harege on drums using only brushes is starkly
minimal but deeply evocative. The minimalist arrangements ensure the focus is on
Asnakech's incisive_and occasionally romantic_lyrics and her virtuosic krar performance.
Jess Sah Bi & Peter One - Our Garden Needs Its Flowers
Jess Sah Bi & Peter One
Our Garden Needs Its Flowers
LP | 2018 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
19,99 €*
Release:2018 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Ivory Coast isn’t known for country music. But Jess Sah Bi & Peter One’s 1985 recording Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, a massive-selling regional hit, brought a burgeoning interest in folk and Americana into the mainstream and carried two young men to international prominence, culminating in stadium-filling concerts and performances for the first lady of Cote d’Ivoire and dignitaries.

The album was made following a chance introduction via Jess’s nephew, who heard Peter playing for fun around his university dormitory. At the time, Jess Sah Bi (Die Sah Bi) was Ivory Coast’s first political cartoonist, having already published in dozens of magazines and newspapers across West Africa and France. Meanwhile Peter One (Pierre-Evrard Tra) was a university student and soon-to-be high school history teacher. Both musicians had spent time singing and playing guitar and composing songs on their own until they came together to record their independently-released opus.

The music contrasted starkly with the popular sounds of the time, ranging from fast-paced regional dance music genres to ziglibithy to soukous to straight-up funk played by Abidjan’s plethora of bands. Country music and folk-rock weren’t very popular with the general public. But interest was bubbling up within the growing student population, who connected with the protest sentiments expressed by many English and American artists of the era. “It’s very nice music, with very nice harmonies, and it’s different from what you hear every day,” Peter says. “The language was a big barrier though. You had to learn English to understand the songs, and the students were the ones learning English.” Having access to education along with their awareness of social and political inequality and injustice made students the perfect audience for folk music in Ivory Coast.

Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Don Williams’ music could be heard on some radio programs around Ivory Coast’s major cities, and some younger people were getting hip to Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cat Stevens and Crosby Stills & Nash. The stage was set for Jess Sah Bi & Peter One’s homegrown country music to make a mark on Ivorians’ consciousness. Complete with slide guitar, soaring vocals and anthemic, politically-conscious lyrics in three languages, the recording became ubiquitous across French-speaking West Africa. “We expected the album to be a big success, but we could not have imagined how far it would go,” Peter says.

After Our Garden Needs Its Flowers release, Jess and Peter’s profile lifted rapidly, leading to stadium performances in Togo, Burkina Faso and elsewhere. Their ascent was accompanied by critical acclaim from the local press and television programs, appearances at galas organized by Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny, the wife of the late Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the first president of the Ivory Coast and even a performance during the 1988 ECOWAS (Economic Coalition of West African States) summit in Yamoussoukro at President Houphouët-Boigny’s request. Jess and Peter’s run lasted until the early 1990s, capped off with the BBC using their song African Chant as theme music the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Jess and Peter now live in San Francisco and Nashville, respectively, and continue to make music on their own. Plans for shows reuniting the duo are in the works for later this year.
Professor Rhythm - Professor 3
DJ Katapila - Aroo
DJ Katapila
12" | 2018 | EU | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
14,99 €*
Release:2018 / EU – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
DJ Katapila's Aroo EP is the latest addition to the iconoclastic producer's catalog
of fast-paced, pan-West African-influenced dance music. DJ Katapila's debut
release with Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2016's reissue of Trotro, ignited
international acclaim for the Ghanaian DJ and producer. Katapila brought
Ghana's street party culture to audiences overseas; a wave of joy and happy
dancers were left in his wake. Following radio play in Ghana and demand from
fans online, new track "Monkey" makes its debut on vinyl. Awesome Tapes From
Africa is proud to present new music from this unmistakably original artist.
Hailu Mergia - Lala Belu
Professor Rhythm - Bafana Bafana
Professor Rhythm
Bafana Bafana
LP | 2017 | EU | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
18,99 €*
Release:2017 / EU – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
First time on vinyl.
Key producer of early South African house music and kwaito Professor Rhythm is
the production moniker of South African music man Thami Mdluli. Throughout the
1980's, Mdluli was member of chart-topping groups Taboo and CJB, playing
bubblegum pop to stadiums. Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential
artists (like Sox and Sensations, among many others) and in-house producer for
important record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. During the early '80s, Mdluli
projects usually featured an instrumental dance track. These hot instrumentals
became rather popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks
without vocals, he says, so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums in 1985
as Professor Rhythm. He got the name before the recordings began, from fans, and
positive momentum from audiences and other musicians drove him to invest
himself in a full-on solo project. It was the era just before the end of apartheid and
house music hadn't taken over yet. There wasn't instrumental electronic music yet
in South Afric a. As the '80s came to a close, that was about to change. Professor
Rhythm productions mirror the evolution of dance music in South Africa. They
grew out of the bubblegum mold - which itself stems from band's channeling
influences like Kool & the Gang and the Commodores - into something based on
music for the club. His early instrumental recordings First Time Around and
Professor 3 mostly distilled R&B, mbaqanga and bubblegum grooves into vocal-less
pieces for the dance floor. Musically, these were a success and commercially the
albums all went gold. There were countless bubblegum albums flooding the
marketplace, with nearly disposable vocalists backed by mostly similar-sounding
rhythm tracks. Most of the lyrical content was light and apolitical. But the
keyboards used formed the musical basis for what would come next. By the time
Professor 4 and this recording Bafana Bafana - the name references South Africa's
national soccer team - were released in the mid-1990s, k waito had fully emerged.
Access to instruments and freedom of expression helped its rise in influence
among youth. According to Mdluli, "Once Mandela was released from prison and
people felt more free to express themselves and move around town, kwaito was
becoming the thing." Lyrically, kwaito championed the local township lingo while
adapting "international music," house music, into the local context. "International
Music," as house music and early kwaito were interchangeably known, in many
ways reflects the sounds coming from America. But South Africans made it their
own. Today, the largest part of the music industry is occupied by house music and
its relatives.
Om Alec Khaoli - Say You Love Me
Umoja - 707
LP | 2017 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
15,99 €*
Release:2017 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Originally recorded in the 1980's in South Africa the release is a cosmic blend of disco, soul and pop. Umoja were one of the key figures in a genre which has since become known as 'Bubblegum Music' with the group recording their music during the violent era of apartheid in Africa.
Awa Poulo - Poulo Warali
Awa Poulo
Poulo Warali
LP | 2017 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
20,99 €*
Release:2017 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Poulo Warali is Peulh music at its best. The entire album speaks a consistent rhythmic language, weaves a lyrical tapestry of masterful vocals, ranging and raw, alongside the woody, acoustic interplay of n’goni (stringed instrument), guitars and calabash gourd thump.
DJ Katapila - Trotro & Bonus Tracks
DJ Katapila
Trotro & Bonus Tracks
12" | 2016 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
10,99 €*
Release:2016 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Two of the tracks collected here that haven't been on wax before, demonstrates a wild combination of breakneck rhythms steeped in his native Ga traditional dances.
Ata Kak - Obaa Sima / Adagya
Ata Kak
Obaa Sima / Adagya
12" | 2015 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
16,99 €*
Release:2015 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
Single #2 from now-legendary 1993 solo cassette. The two Ghana-by-way-of-Toronto dance tracks whip themselves into an unabashed frenzy, & sound like nothing else.
Aby Ngana Diop - Liital
Aby Ngana Diop
LP | 2014 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
18,99 €*
Release:2014 / US – Original
Genre:Rock / Indie
Aby Ngana Diop was the most famous taasukat in Dakar, Senegal in the 1980s and 1990s. Taasu is a Wolof-language poetic style, usually performed by women griots over frenetic drum patterns, with an aggressive verbal flow thought to presage rap. Her only album Liital was groundbreaking in the history of Senegalese music because it was the first commercial recording to feature a traditional female taasukat performing to the modern accompaniment of mbalax, Senegal’s quintessential pop genre.

After a few years of searching for Ms. Diop’s family members—she passed away from a heartattack in 1997—it took another year to get the release sorted it out but I’m happy to report this is all square with her family in Dakar (thanks to the help of a friendly professor from Boston who also contributed excellent liner notes).
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