Honest Jon's Records Bellyachers, Listen Songs From East Africa, 1938-46 LP
Songs From East Africa, 1938-46
Honest Jon's Records
Vintage Recordings From East Africa
Honest Jon's Records
Thirty-five precious, stinging selections from an HMV run of more than four hundred 78s, recordings made in Uganda and Kenya from the mid-1930s till the mid-1950s.
Three main types of performance are featured (not forgetting a lovely early Kenyan big-band calypso, as if straight from the pen of Lord Kitchener).
Most are minstrelsy, with songs ranging dazzlingly through subjects including loneliness and death, bastards and cut-off trousers, trains of fire and no-good rich people, a murder mystery and a drunken punch-up at a rumba party in Kampala, and metaphorical cocks, hard pedalling and kettles which won’t boil.
Set to the deep grooving of an ndingidi one-string fiddle, the very opening verses exemplify this fluency and range, within an account of the coming of the radio to the Ugandan capital. Everyone wanted to look their best. Old men hobbled forward on sticks; a smoking pipe was lost underfoot; a vendor’s bananas were trampled; some dwarves from Kyaggwe were robbed of their essami insects. There was a man from Ssese with dried enkejje fish; another from Bukunja, whose yams were a big hit. Some were angry and confused — they could hear the talking but see no one, and would not believe that the voice came only from the loudspeakers. The singer SSekinomu weaves in asides about female creativity and the imprisonment of Prince Mawanda, the king’s eldest brother, before the song ends as it began, with thanks and compliments for the new technology, to the Bazungu, the Whites.
Other minstrels accompany themselves on various sorts of lyre, and guitars carrying the influences of US country music and Congolese 78s, the influx of Congolese musicians, and the harmonies of Christian church music. There are also tough, raw contributions on button-accordion: ‘Listening to this kind of Kikuyu song is more a feat of endurance than an aesthetic pleasure,’ noted the musicologist Hugh Tracey at the time. (Presumably he didn’t think much of the metal percussion, either — the clanging of an old motor fly-wheel.)
There is taarab music from the Swahili-speaking communities of the east coast, and Arab and Indian communities in ports like Mombasa, which had imported Egyptian and Indian music since almost the start of the century: lilting melodies are provided by violins or Indian harmoniums, sometimes also an oud, along with Indian or Arab percussion.
Finally there is the startling sound of four larger Ugandan ensembles, with songs about getting drunk and the relative merits of prostitution and motherhood, and the king’s deportation by the British, deploying ‘the man who crunches rocks between his teeth’. The style dismayed the missionary Robert Ashe, who visited the court of the Kabaka in 1884: ‘Our ears were deafened with the din which a motley band of musicians were making. Kettledrums and hand drums were rolling, horns braying, flutes screaming… while blind musicians twanged away on their banjos, the whole making a most discordant harmony.’
Luxuriously presented, like a small hard-cover book, with full notes, including extensive translation, and haunting photographs; with the recordings brilliantly restored at Abbey Road.
DER Platten Laden überhaupt am Ende der Portobello Road Londons. Egal ob spektakuläre Reissues oder super aktuelle und grossartige elektronische Musik - Honest Jon's hat die Finger im Spiel. "Informal University for music lovers" - wird der Laden liebevoll genannt und ist seit 1974 das Herz der Londoner Musik Community. Das Label Honest Jon's wird unter anderem von Notting Hill local Damon Albarn mitbetrieben. Seit 2008 veröffentlicht Honest Jon's immer wieder Leckerbissen aus den 150 000 78 - rpm Aufnahmen aus den klimakontrollierten archivräumen der EMI archives in Hayes England. Erhältlich bei: Kitchener Bern www.honestjons.com Honest Jon's is an independent record shop based on Portobello Road in Ladbroke Grove, London, operating since 1974. The shop is owned and run by Mark Ainley and Alan Scholefield, who took over from one of the original proprietors, "Honest" Jon Clare. Their record label of the same name is run in conjunction with Damon Albarn, who has been quoted as saying: "I don't really like the term world music. Wherever it comes from, it's all just music, isn't it? Hopefully that's what Honest Jon's is about - to open a few minds to what's out there." The shop sells a multitude of genres of music on vinyl and CD, specializing in jazz, blues, reggae, dance, soul, folk and outernational. It runs a mail-order business from www.honestjons.com. Formed in 2002, the label has released compilation albums such as its London Is The Place For Me series, excavating the music of young Black London, in the years after World War II ("a fascinating archive of material from the 1950s and 60s, chronicling a time when diasporic rhythms were more or less the sole preserve of the small communities responsible for bringing them to these shores"); also collections of British folk, Port-of-Spain soca, Afro-Cuban jazz from the Bronx, Jamaican dancehall; and retrospectives of artists including Moondog, Maki Asakawa, Bettye Swann and Cedric "Im" Brooks & The Light of Saba. It has released original music by Candi Staton, Actress, T++, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mark Ernestus, Trembling Bells, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Simone White, Shackleton, Michael Hurley, Terry Hall, and the Moritz Von Oswald Trio. It recorded the chaabi orchestra of Abdel Hadi Halo on location in Algiers; Lobi Traore and Kokanko Sata Doumbia in Bamako; and Tony Allen in Lagos. In 2008, Honest Jon's began a run of compilations of early recordings — mostly drawn from the EMI Archive in Hayes, Hillingdon — stretching back to the start of the twentieth century, covering all corners of the world: from the break-up of the Ottoman Empire more than a hundred years ago, to 1950s Beirut, to late-1920s Baghdad, to 1930s East Africa. wikipedia