Caribbean hits came from Family Tree, on Cree, and the Tambours de Martinique E.P., released by the Sol Power Sound collective, out of Washington, DC. Jazz, featuring David & Michael Boothman and Andre Tanker, from Trinidad`s Port Of Spain, and the breakneck Antillean percussion of Max Ransay and Eugene Mona. From Martinique there was also Mac Gregor`s In Abidjan on Hot Casa, and Tabala on Vive La Musique. From Guadeloupe, the Zouk of Feelin Kreyol`s Las Pale, on Strut.
The aforementioned The Slave, by Mighty Sparrow is definitely one of my selections in this “category”. More music from Port-Of-Spain, recorded in in 1963, by the legendary Trinidadian Calypso artist, and reissued at the close of 2018 by France`s Jamwax.
Mining a similar era of sound was Soul Jazz` Congo Revolution. Collecting impossible to find tunes from the early to mid-60s in a box of five 45s for Record Store Day. Where Highlife begins to mutate into Juju, often set to furious James Brown-inspired Funk.
More Funk that rivaled James Brown could be found on Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata. The Ghanan band`s 1976 debut, repressed for Record Store Day by Mr. Bongo. While further down the road of West African Juju`s evolution were the drum-machine-assisted recordings of Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars on Sewele. Dating from 1986, and transported to the 21st Century, again by Strut.
2018 was also the year that the term “Burger Highlife” entered a more popular consciousness. i.e. it was the first I`d heard of it. Referring to the music recorded by Ghanaian ex-pats living in Germany. Standouts were Les Choc Stars Du Zaire’s Nakombe Nga, selected for Rush Hour by John Gomez, the Nana Tuffour E.P. complied by Kalita, and Kojo Antwi`s Kojo I København on Music For Dreams.
Documenting a similar scene, but focused instead on 80s Paris, was Hugo Mendez` Nouvelle Ambiance!!! The Sofrito Records founder put together an amazing package of text, photos, and music that captures a nightlife soundtracked by a synth-augmented mix of Bikutsi, Makossa, and Soukous. Ahoco, Baoule , Highlife and Merengue. This Parisian scene also produced Momo Joseph’s War For Ground, which was rescued from 1983 by Africa Seven.
With all that looking backwards, it`s best, I think, to end on something very now. Angelique Kidjo inking-in the influence of Fela Kuti, and Tony Allen, on Brian Eno and Talking Heads, with her storming cover of Remain In Light for Kravenworks.