Posts Tagged ‘King Sunny Ade & His African Beats’

Astrud Gilberto / Stan Getz

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Listen: The Girl From Ipanema (Single Edit) / Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz

‘The Girl From Ipanema’ may have created the Space Age Bachelor Pad musical sub genre on it’s very own, quite by accident. What started out as rather lengthy bossa nova jazz rendition by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, with an Astrud Gilberto vocal feature rather far into the song’s album version, was eventually rearranged and edited down to a brilliant worldwide hit.

Seek out the single version, streamed above. It’s concise and in my opinion, far superior to the long full length counterpart. Then there’s the near extinct picture sleeve. Don’t ever pass that up.

Several years back, Astrud Gilberto played a night at SOB’s in NY’s West Village. I’d seen the listing, and lazily intended to attend, until day of. Suddenly, getting home and sinking into the sofa sounded way better. For whatever reason, I thought, just do it already. So last minute, left the Island office and walked across town, only to find the club oversold. Now the juices were flowing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Two days later, Island’s King Sunny Ade & His African Beats were scheduled. Without shame, I pulled out my Island office ID and forcefully played the guilt card.

She was fantastic.

King Sunny Ade & His African Beats

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Listen: Ja Funmi (Remix) / King Sunny Ade & His African Beats KingSunnyJaFunmi.mp3

Chris Blackwell was always a believer that the world would be, or eventually be, open minded and enjoy a wider musical palate. Logically, in the early 80′s he started releasing African artists to the pop consumer. Everyone enjoys a bit of world music in their life, right?

Unfortunately, not as many as would have – had they heard it.

When I joined Island, it was like an oasis, being a part of the music business, yet at the same time comfortably away from the mainstream. An A&R person’s dream come true. You could take a flight to Paris for a Ray Lema or Ali Farke Toure show – and have Chris excitedly anticipate your opinion.

But even before Island, I was bitten by the King Sunny Ade & His African Beats bug. Roger McCall and I would play his stuff seamlessly amongst all the punk, reggae and new wave on our weekly ‘specialty show’.

We particularly loved ‘Ja Funmi’ – I wonder, did anyone else?

Listen: Ase / King Sunny Ade & His African Beats KingSunnyAse.mp3

There’s a great 12″ extended dance mix of ‘Ase’ that Island US promo’d, but an edited 7″ – now that’s a treat. Found this one lying around Island’s London St. Peter’s Square radio department – seems the promo folks were only too happy that I carted off a whole 25 count boxlot with me.

A beauty indeed.

Miriam Makeba

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

MiriamPata, Miriam Makeba, Jerry Ragovoy, Reprise

Listen: Pata Pata / Miriam Makeba
Pata Pata / Miriam Makeba

A traditional African song by a native artist becoming a US radio and chart hit (#12, 10/67)? Probably a first, definitely a last. Seriously, I can’t remember it ever happening again. Programmers with their false sense of knowing the public taste and dismissive musical arrogance were actually powerful all through the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s. Even after the industry coined the sound ‘world music’ and it became chic, off the US airwaves it was kept – maybe Paul Simon’s GRACELAND got some radio attention, but nowhere near matching the sales story. That’s as far as the door opened. And not ever again for a native artist. Did any pop, alternative or more pointedly, urban station play King Sunny Ade & His African Beats or Ladysmith Black Mambazo? Yeah right. So much for a melting pot and honoring heritage.

This, of course, before the gatekeepers lost that power and their stronghold was decimated. But all those years of musical censorship took it’s toll. Just look at the tastes of the average American. Yikes.

Released not long after The Dixie Cups ‘Iko Iko’ became a hit, both hooked me with the rhythm and ambience of drums, sticks, bongos – whatever. It all sounded pretty fascinating. ‘Pata Pata’ never struck me as out of place, or threateningly different, just a great single. I collected all the Reprise 7′s to follow, about 5-6 more. Who realized at the time that Jerry Ragovoy was involved in the Miriam Makeba story, not only as producer, but co-songwriter. True, he was in the studio with her while juggling sessions with Lorraine Ellison. How great is that?

Reprise, and parent company Warner Brothers, had a most seminal and diverse roster, beginning in the 60′s. All you need do is pull out any of the label’s album inner sleeves listing their currents to see. In fact, that diversity and standard continued for decades, all under Mo Ostin’s leadership. His taste in music, and instinct for executives goes a bit unheralded in the history books, but it was there and vastly important to a healthy underground music culture in America.