Appearances Can Be Deceptive

image00213It has been a several weeks since the last post, but with this, I hope it has been worth the wait.

The Volta River and its three tributaries, the White, Red and Black Volta, form a region in Burkina Faso in the North and Ghana in the South, where the rivers feed Lake Volta, the largest natural reservoir in the world. The region is not only geographically rich; it contains numerous tribal groups with the Ewe making up a large part of the population mainly in Ghana, but formally Togoland, and the Gurma in Burkina Faso in the North. With bands like Super Volta Jazz and Amadou Balake the music in this region is, unsurprisingly, pretty special.

Featured today is a single from prolific Orchestre Volta Jazz. They have recorded over 30 7 inches for Burkinabé label Disques France-Afrique; a fullish discography can be found on Radio Africa’s great site here. The band was formed around the same time as Super Volta Jazz in the 1960s but did not appear to start releasing until mid to late 70s. This could explain why despite today’s record being released in the late 1970s it is appears musically to be from a decade earlier.

The A side is a Congolese style piece but the B side has a great 60s Garage sound to it. Having a love of Garage this really ticks the boxes for me. The guitar break could have easily been written by The Sonics or The Dirty Wurds.

BOSS!

B.B. Peyrissac

Bi Kaméléou

Record Details:
Orchestre Volta Jazz – B.B. Peyrissac / Bi Kaméléou (197?) – Disques France-Afrique (LGVD 1.089)

Volta1Volta2Volta3Volta4

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The Hits Keep on Coming

A real treat today with two (yes two!) more singles off the local Aux Ecoutes label by T.P. Orchestre Poly Rythmo. On the wonderful compilation by Analog Africa, there is an interview with the Aux Ecoutes producer, Lawani Affissoulayi, that worked with the band recording the singles that were released on the label, where he talks about his experience of Poly-Rythmo.

The company Radelec, that was to give birth to the record label, started off as a trading company, importing a real mixture of goods, such as tobacco, electricals and textiles. Then after getting more involved in electricals, and in particular audio equipment, the company move into P.A. equipment at rallies and eventually Lawani, an employee at the company started to import records from the big West African labels like Decca, Polydor and Philips, and eventually from the US and Europe.

Introducing locals to these sounds from all over the world, there also was the demand for home grown sounds. So the label started to release records from local artists, using the connection that Benin company, Badejo had with Philips in Nigeria, to send the recordings for manufacture in the large pressing plants across the border. One of the first artists to record on the Aux Ecoutes label was El Rego, who went on to release several singles on the label.

The first of today’s singles is another Clement Melone arrangement. The A side is another Afrobeat track with crazy vocals and a lovely organ, the other side is a interesting Rock n’ Roll number with a nice guitar break.

Nougbo Vêhou

Ma Savo Home

The other single today is arranged by another legend of Benin music, Avolonto Honoré, who was a great singer/songwriter with Poly-Rythmo as well as Black Santiago and Los Commandos. The singer on the single is Eskill Lohento, who was one of the early members of the band with Melone.

Eskill Loento

The A side is a Latin track, specifically a Cuban Pachanga. The band were influenced by and worked with Cuban musicians such as bandleader of the Fania All Stars, Johnny Pacheco, as well as Orquesta Aragon, Papaito and Roberto Torres who all came to Cotonou. The B side is credited as a Jerk, a fast rock song with strong vocals and a nice driving rhythm section and guitar.

Avolonto Honoré

Wloui Bonu Houide

Akue We Non Houme

This band really show no let up and the the tunes just keep coming!

Record Details:
Clément Mêlonê et L’Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Nougbo Vêhou (La Véreté Blesse) / Ma Savo Home (197?) – Aux Ecoutes (LA 41)

poly41a poly41b

Avolonto Honoré Chanté par Eskill Lohento et L’Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Wloui Bonu Houide / Akue We Non Houme (197?) – Aux Ecoutes (LA 740)

poly740a poly740b