African Elegant – Sierra Leone’s Kru / Krio Calypso Connection was issued as a tape in 1992 by Original, a long dead label devoted to publishing compilations from mysterious parts of the universe. It is of course out of print, so you’ll have to create or use a Soulseek account and actively search for it. After listening to this album five times in two days, I was planning to write an elaborate review but then I got too busy dancing and smiling like a half-wit, and then I REALLY had to play Dishonored, so here’s a few words from an highly reliable source instead (Cliff Furnald of RootsWorld):
If there is a measurement of pure joy, perhaps it is in the music on this disk, twenty two tracks of unadulterated delight. The palm wine style of Sierra Leone is probably best known through the recordings of S.E. Rogie, but Original ‘s J.S. Roberts has dug deep for some exhilarating early 78s by Ebenezer Calender, Famous Scrubbs and a number of tracks of less known Kru and mandingo artists. Palm wine music is a close relative of Trindad’s calypso, developing in the same period, and influenced or becoming an influence on that popular island style in the fifties. The music grew from the jamming of African sailors, Caribbean soldiers and locals in the bars of Freetown, and the easily stowed instruments they favored like the mandolin, guitar, accordion, and banjo became the backbone of the music. With the addition of percussion, and some wonderful brass sections, these songs mirrored not only the rhythms of calypso but also its topical tendencies, with stories of local events, politics and everyday life. It’s a real “chicken or egg” thing, and Robert’s investigation into the roots of the music related in the liner notes do little to clear up the mystery. While the roots of the music may remain shrouded in history, the music itself is no mystery at all. It is simple, open euphoria.
Hey Mississippi Records, why not reissue it ?
Ebenezer Calender And His Maringar Band – The Stolen Chicken (right click/save as)
A. Cambah & His Kankaray Tarrancis Society – Sandoh Kanu Koh (mandingo) (right click/save as)
Mississippi Records released several extraordinary compilations in 2010, one of them being I’ll Meet You On The Other Shore, the third installment of the Field Recordings From Alan Lomax’s “Southern Journey”, 1959-1960 series. It’s nothing but stunning blues, folk, work songs & gospel. This record is long out of print and cyberlockers suck, so you’ll have to create a Soulseek account to get the full album (and of course if you like circular pieces of vinylidene polymers you should also take a look at Mississipi’s available records). This music will make you want to sit under an oak tree, bite a fruit, let the wind lick your hair, while thinking about all the good and bad things you did during your lifetime.
This Banjo can almost prove the existence of God:
Hobart Smith – Railroad Bill (Right click/Save as)
Union Choir of the Church of God and Saints of Christ – None But The Righteous
(Right click/Save as)
Ruby Vass - Old Gospel Ship (Righ click/Save as)