Ten Great World Music Reissues & Previously Unreleased Archival Gems of 2017

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 20, 2017 05:10pm | Post a Comment

By Michael Henning

Baba Zulu

10. Baba Zula - XX (Glitterbeat)

Excellent compilation of psychedelic bellydance dub jams from Turkey. If you need more reasons to check this out despite reading that description, then perhaps the fact that Mad Professor produced some of this record will help convince you to investigate. Comes as a 2-CD set (2nd disc is of dub versions) or with the material from the first CD spread out over a nice 2-LP set, plus a CD of the dub versions. Truly innovative global fusion of the highest order, these folks should be way more popular than they are here in the USA, and here's your chance to help remedy that.
The Photographs of Charles Duvelle

9. Charles Duvelle & Hisham Mayet - The Photgraphs of Charles Duvelle - Disques OCORA and Collection PROPHET (Sublime Frequencies)

Epic 296-page book of stunning photographs from Duvelle. He recorded dozens of albums of traditional music for excellent Ocora label (later reissued via Prophet). He traveled throughout the world, and extensively in Africa, also taking photographs during these trips. His dynamic photos added an important element to those old LPs, allowing the listeners to access a portal to the world of the musicians and bringing the whole experience much closer. Taken on their own as a whole (and featuring many previously unused photos), you can see what a keen eye he has for his subjects, and he really captures their essence and spirit throughout this massive work. There are 2 CDs included here as well, both compiled and annotated by Duvelle himself. Raw and vibrant sights and sounds from a different time and place, this archival gem a truly beautiful work of art.
Serge Gainsbourg, Les Chemins de Katmandou

8. Serge Gainsbourg & Jean-Claude Vannier - Les Chemins de Kathmandu (Finders Keepers)

The master tapes for these 1969 recordings were believed lost for many years, so the soundtrack to this film has never been properly released before now. The music herein is a wonderful time capsule back to the era, with lots of great psychedelic cinema vibes, a groovy tapestry of heady hippie happenings. If you dig Vannier's other excellent masterpiece L'enfant Assassin Des Mouchesz (also on B Music/Finders Keepers), you definitely need this.
George Mukabi

7. George Mukabi - Furaha Wenye Gita (Mississippi/Change)

Intimate African fingerstyle solo guitar and vocal magic from this Kenyan guitarist who made these recordings in the late 1950s and/or early 1960s. There's a sweet charm to this music, one that transports you back to a simpler time. If you happen to know and love the obscure but wonderful work of Fundi Konde, or enjoyed Mississippi's excellent reissue of The Sounds Of S. E. Rogie Vol. 1 LP from a few years back, then you will probably love this too.
Daniel Schmidt and the Berkeley Gamelan

6. Daniel Schmidt and the Berkeley Gamelan - In My Arms, Many Flowers (Recital)

A lovely album of somewhat non-traditional gamelan music recorded from 1978-1982 right here in Berkeley, California, home of the original Amoeba Music store! The music is mostly mellow, especially compared to much of what you hear in the Balinese style, sounding much closer to the slower paced Javanese style overall. With lots of subtle, delicate interplay and a lush overall sound, some parts even border on ambient music, and the whole thing is full of grace and triumphantly gorgeous.


Barney Wilen

5. Barney Wilen - Moshi (SouffleContinu)

Originally released in 1972, this long lost double LP of jazz/world fusion is a masterpiece. Traveling to North Africa to record some of this, Wilen and his group of French and African musicians create an impressive array of funky grooves, tribal gnawa percussion and chants, loose jazzy weirdness, and downright psychedelic sound collage. Imagine Dr. John jamming with Funkadelic and the Master Musicians of Jajouka... yup, it's really that wild.


Air Africa

4. Various Artists - Air Africa (Aziza Disques)

Vinyl-only compilation of afro-beat, funk, soul, and otherwise groovy dance musics. Lots of heavy hitters here, and with the variety of artists and styles, this is a no-brainer for DJs who can use a number of these tracks on any given night out. Also great for home listening, and very few if any of these tracks have been reissued on vinyl previously, making this an even better deal. There is also another album on the same label, called Murder By Contract, that focuses on afro-rock and garage sounds. If that's your bag, you know what to do.


Saigon Supersound

3. Various Artists - Saigon Supersound Volume 1 (Saigon Supersound) 

Wonderful collection of Vietnamese psych-rock groovers recorded between 1965 and 1975, and released on CD and as a gatefold double LP. Rivaling the best comps that focus on similar Asian material (Sublime Frequencies' Cambodian Cassette Archives and the incredible soundtrack to Don't Think I've Forgotten, in particular), this is a sometimes funky, always fun journey back to a lost time and place. It's really enjoyable, and it's billed as Volume 1, so hopefully more volumes await us in the future. For now, take a trip into the past with these tasty morsels of global psychedelia.
Sweet as Broken Dates, Somali music

2. Various Artists - Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From The Horn Of Africa (Ostinato)

A treasure trove of recently unearthed gems from this musically under-represented nation. Definitely reminiscent of the music from their East African neighbors in Ethiopia, but with a major dose of reggae riddims. Many of the tracks here feature prominent organ work that really stands out. The singing also feels like there's a large middle Eastern flavor here, and even a touch of southeast Asian vocal styles (think Cambodia or Malaysia), which makes sense because Somalia is on the coast and trade routes probably brought them into contact with music from both of those regions regularly over time, making this a fascinating piece of the puzzle of global musical influences. 

Zaire 74

1. Various Artists - Zaire 74 (Wrasse)

Recorded during a historically special concert in Zaire (Congo) in 1974, this 2-CD or 3-LP comp features some fantastic music from several powerhouse African bands and artists of the time, including Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco & T.P. OK Jazz, Abeti, and Miriam Makeba. Most of the music here is upbeat and energetic, with dancing and singing along both typical reactions. Great liner notes too, which explains the context and significance of this music, and excellent packaging to boot.



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Michael Henning (9), Best Of 2017 (19), Africa (20), African Music (9), World Music (146), Indonesia (4), Gamelan (2), Turkey (3), Turkish Music (2), Psychedelic Rock (7), Psych (18), Bellydance Music (1), Baba Zula (1), Charles Duvelle (1), Hisham Mayet (1), Serge Gainsbourg (19), Jean-claude Vannier (1), George Mukabi (1), Kenya (1), Daniel Schmidt (1), The Berkeley Gamelan (1), Balinese Music (1), Barney Wilen (1), North African Music (1), Vietnamese Music (1), Cambodian Music (2), Vietnam (20), Somalia (2), Somali Music (2), Congo (1), Zaire (1)