No. 16: Global Reissues Bonanza
Originally I was going to put “African,” not “Global,” in the title of this post. (I haven’t thought of anything better than MABEL or ANABEL yet either.) You could well imagine that between three Nigeria Specials from Soundway, one Nigeria 70 from Strut, not to mention two double-CD Franco overviews—one messy and fun, one chronological and really fun—plus Sir Victor Uwaifo (also Soundway’s) and the African Analog series, and the blurbs write themselves, right?
But I realized that not only had I outlined much of what I’d planned to say here already for eMusic, I was giving short shrift to a couple recent favorites on Honest Jon’s. One is Nigerian: Delta Dandies: Dance Bands In Nigeria 1936-1941, highlighted by the pennywhistle fantasia “Rocking in Rhythm” by Gold Coast Police Band. The other is Sprigs of Time: 78s From the EMI Archive (Honest Jon’s), a nearly 80-minute portrait of the conglomerate’s beginnings as a global enterprise.
Like Victrola Favorites earlier in the year and the Joe Bussard CD from 2003, Springs of Time is part of the trend toward the making of compilations of rare old stuff as grab-bag entertainment packages more than academically prepared case studies. All props to the case studies, make no mistake, but there’s something very appealing about this approach; it’s not all that different from Yazoo’s Secret Museum of Mankind comps, and in these cases the packaging helps put across that they’re different and singular a lot better. (I know, packaging is obsolete in 2008—sue me.)
I hope I’m wrong to think the Rough Guide CD series isn’t getting much notice, either. They’re easy to take for granted—they’ve been around over a dozen years, and they’re consistent. But The Rough Guide to Congo Gold is a big favorite of mine. Some of it was familiar, but all of it hit me as one thing. And I’d be crazy to neglect to mention Grand Kalle & L’African Jazz’s “Parafifi.” The traded vocals at the top are nice enough, though when the lead sonero steps out it’s ravishing, and then the high-pitched part of the guitar solo tops even that. It didn’t get the ink of the Nigerian comps, but it may well be my most-played song of the year.