Blog Roddus

Blog Roddus
My Favorite Place

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

VA - The Sound of Kinshasa - Guitar Classics From Zaire (1995)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

1. Ombiza Charles - Masida Ngalina (2:58)
2. Orch. A.H. Depalo - Etoile Des Neiges (3:07)
3. Nino & Orch. Rockamambo - Mickey Me Queiro (2:52)
4. Orch. African Jazz - Mokozi Ya Mboka (2:50)
5. Franco & Orch. OK Jazz - Bomboko Awuti Na New York (2:50)
6. Kalle & Orch. OK Jazz - Tika Nedeka No Te (2:46)
7. Rochereau & Orch. African Fiesta - Madina (3:14)
8. Mujos & Orch. OK Jazz - Finga Mama Munu (3:38)
9. Ngwalau Michel & Orch. African Fiesta - Limbisa Ngai (4:52)
10. Jojo & Orch. OK Jazz - Komokosaka Te Na Basi (4:26)
11. Depiano & Orch. Beguen Band - Christina (3:18)
12. Dr. Nico & Orch. African Fiesta - Kiri Kiri Mabina Ya Sika (5:27)
13. Orch. Empire des Bakuba - Ya Yongo (5:22)

A little bit different from the usual Afro funk I listen too, this compilation is more traditional sounding , covering  music from the above mentioned place over the period from sometime in the 50s to sometime in the 70s. Not a lot of info on this release and I'm not sure exactly where I got it from now. A bit of jazz, highlife, traditional rhythms and pop, sung in the native tongue. The first track is a good example of African blues and the rest get funkier as we progress through time. Plenty of Cuban influence here as well. A little lo-fi and while listening at work this collection failed to grab me at first, but as I listen again now with  more focus and a bit more familiarity of the songs I fine this collection to be overall quite enjoyable. Rating 3/5

Check this out here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fela Ransome-Kuti and The Nigeria 70 - Fela's London Scene (Nigeria 1970)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

[A] J'ehin-J'ehin / Egbe Mi O
[B] Who're You / Buy Africa / Fight to Finish

It is starting to look like this Roddus African music month is starting to look like a Fela extravaganza  as I review yet another awesome Fela LP. Still, why not seeing as I got the Complete Works Boxset last Xmas.
Well, we're starting near the beginning of the Afrobeat era with this, Fela's first proper LP of Afrobbeat after His "Fela Fela Fela/ 69 LA Sessions" Compilation. We are still in shorter song territory here with 5 tracks all under 10 minutes except the slightly more epic "Egbe Mi O" at  just over 13 minutes. The two tracks on side A are a bit more down tempo and atmospheric, if you can apply that word to Felas music with "Egbe Mi O" noodling along with some nice chorus singing from the bevvy of females Fela always had as backing singers. "J'ehin-J'ehin" shuffles along with another slower rhythm and some organ work from Fela until the brass section kicks in and almost launches you out of your seat to boogie to some powerful sounds. Side B kicks off with "Who're You", one of Fela'a early classics with some classic Brass melodies that just so easily become so recognisable and make you want to groove. "Buy Africa" is a similar brilliant track and "Fight to Finish" keeps up the tempo to close out the album on a high note, or a rather lot of them. Felas Brass arrangements just blow me off the planet. An early Fela Classic and rated 4.5/5

Mt Aicken - May 29th 2011

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No. 104
Mt Aicken - May 29th 2011

Another CTC trip this weekend and fortunately another beautiful clear day for being on the tops. This trip was originally intending to go to Goat hill, above the Otira township, but the weather forecast wasn't too promising for a pleasant day on the tops there. As we set out from Springfield, the day was cold and frosty but clear-as-a-bell, so we decided to head for Arthurs Pass and see what it looked like up there. Stopping at the Mt White turn off to check in with the other car, the skys were still clear but we could see the clouds sitting on the tops further to the west. Arthurs Pass looked clear and so it was decided to tackle Mt Aicken. Several members of the group were pleased about, me included, as a trip there was  abandoned  a couple of weekends back  because of the weather. As we arrived in Arthurs Pass, it became obvious that Goat Hill wouldn't be a pleasant option and so around 9 AM  a party of nine headed up the Mt Aicken track. Starting at around 700m, we climb steeply up through the bush, passing part of the old Hydro scheme before leaving the bush after a short time at the 1300m mark. The views of the mountain range skirting Arthurs Pass are excellent, with a light coating of fresh snow to add to their beauty. Morning tea was had on a flat outcrop at around 1500M before heading off to the first peak. By this time we were travelling through the fresh snow that has fallen the day before and scrambling up a rocky ridge. Point 1844 is the first peak reached and looks for all purposes as the top, with a large flat area and a cairn, but our leader informs us that real top is the one we can see further north. After a quick photo shoot, as the views of the surrounding mountains are stunning, we continue scrambling along the rocky ridge towards point 1863, where we have a cold lunch trying to shelter from the cold wind and some of the party spy a group of Shammie down in Agility creek. Our leader informs us that this is not the top Aicken Peak but the next one just to the east, but this turns out to actually be peak 1858, 5 meters lower. It was quite difficult to get between points 1863 and 1858 staying on top of the ridge as it was very rocky and involved very careful rock climbing in places and with nine in the party could have taken some time to traverse this short distance, so we dropped below the ridge and then had to climb back up to point 1858. From this point we proceeded to drop down to the east into the Mingha river. There was enough snow on this side to allow some good bumslides, with a couple of inches of  fresh dry snow on a harder base. Although we were carrying crampons, we just got away with out using them. The party regrouped at the bushline, where the leader instructed us to stay well to the left of the creek so as not to get bluffed and once hitting the Mingha track, just head on out to the cars. The two drivers, who were fast trampers, went ahead to do the car unshuffel and I managed to almost keep up with them on a relatively easy bush bash down to the Mingha, which we did in about 40 minutes. The drivers raced ahead, while myself and another headed out at a more sedate pace, with no sign of the rest of the party behind us. It was almost dark as we reach the carpark and there was still no sign of the others as we waited for the cars to return. The rest of the group arrived in the dark around 40 minutes later. A brilliant day and a bit of everything on this trip, very enjoyable.

Heading up just above the bushline on this stunning day.

Looking across Arthurs Pass highway.

Our first rest stop at about 1500M. Mt Rolleston in the background.

Starting off again after refuelling.

Starting to encounter the fresh snow from the day before.

One of our party taking a picture of Mt Rolleston.

Are we there yet?

A shot looking back down the ridge we are ascending.

The Waimack River and Mt Bruce in the distance.

Are We there yet?

Nearing Pt 1844

Another shot looking back the way we came.

Looking back across to the Waimack again from a higher elevation.

Looking at Blimit and Devils Punchbowl Creek.

So this is not the top:( its that one over there.)

There are a few mountains in the South Island.

So We're Still not on the top :(  That's it there, but it looks lower?

Nearly on Pt 1858

Me on 1858

Our descent and the delicate art of Bum sliding.



Looking back up to where we had come down.

A taste of the approaching winter

looking across the Mingha to Williams Saddle and Mt Williams under cloud.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron - Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (USA 1970)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review

Gil Scott-Heron R.I.P
01/04/1949 - 27/05/2011

1.The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (3:21)
2.Omen (1:45)
3.Brother (2:35)
4.Comment No. 1 (4:26)
5.Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (1:21)
6.The Subject Was Faggots (3:11)
7.Evolution (And Flashback) (3:21)
8.Plastic Pattern People (2:53)
9.Whitey on the Moon (1:59)
10.The Vultures (4:31)
11.Enough (4:15)
12.Paint It Black (0:34)
13.Who'll Pay Reparations on My Soul? (5:15)
14.Everyday (4:29)

In light of the recent passing of Gil Scott-Heron, I interrupt African music month for a quick review of  His Debut album from 1970. 
A live recording of Gil's Black reactionary poetry, set to congas and on a couple of tracks, piano, recorded in front of an audience of what sounds like about 6 people, no doubt taped at the address mentioned in the title. The original version of Gil's best known song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" opens this set in its stripped back version before it was set to a more funky tune in a future release. Full of humor, violence, hate, truth and intelligence, these poems are a diatribe of Gil's justified contempt for white America and how his ancestors and contemporaries have been treated by the White man. Gil has a great voice when reading and boy he can sing too. Highlights for me include The above mentioned opening track, "Evolution...", "Enough" "The Vultures" and best of all, the excellent "Who'll Pay Reparations On My Soul".
A fantastic album  and rated 5/5.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fela Ransome Kuti & Nigeria 70 - The ’69 L.A. Sessions (USA 1969)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month

1. My Lady Frustration (7:01)
2. Viva Nigeria (3:47)
3. Obe (3:13)
4. Ako (2:43)
5. Witchcraft (5:27)
6. Wayo[2nd Version][Version] (3:29)
7. Lover (6:10)
8. Funky Horn (4:43)
9. Eko (4:14)
10. This Is Sad (4:23)

This set recorded in Los Angeles when Fela visited the US in the late 60s was issued in Nigeria as the "Fela Fela Fela" Album and later in the US/UK in the early 90s. It now comes packaged with several earlier tracks from the Koola Lobitos album I reviewed earlier this week. Several tracks had been released in Nigeria as singles before this was issued on LP and it marks the transition of Fela's Music from the earlier Highlife style to the awesome Afrobeat of the rest of his career. Listening carefully to this music(if you can without leaping from your chair and boogieing throughout) you certainly can detect the Highlife elements but this set is much more funky and many of the elements of Afrobeat are in evidence. Leo once mentioned that he didn't find this set as powerful as Fela's later pure Afrobeat, but I have come to totally love this album as an awesome statement of the wonder of Fela's music. The songs are becoming etched into my psyche as classics and the steamroller rhythms and excellent horn playing just blow me away. 
This album opens with,  what is for me, Fela's first true monumental slab of  pure Afrobeat in the astounding "My Lady Frustration" This song gives me goosebumps and brings up emotions of pure ecstasy of the type that I haven't had from a piece of music for many a year. "Viva Nigeria", "Obe", "Ako", and "Witchcraft" are all great slabs of Proto Afrobeat and the later tracks hark back to the Highlife that Fela apprenticed in. An outstanding set and gets a Roddus rating of 5+/5 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Abana Ba Nasery - Classic Acoustic Recordings from Western Kenya

 An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month

 1   Atisa wangu
 2   Khwatsia ebunangwe
 3   Servanus andai
 4   Nilimwacha muke risavu
 5   Mapenzi kama karata
 6   Noah Libuko
 7   Omukhana meri
 8   Abasiratsi muhulire
 9   Ndakhomela
10  Ebijana bie bubayi
11  Mushalo ebutula
12  Rosey wangu

This one has been playing on the MP3 player for most of the week but I keep missing most of it and what I do hear gets submerged in Fela or some other Afrofunk monster. That maybe because this album is a compilation of this trio's recordings from the 60s and 70s and is, as the title suggests, a collection of acoustic songs in a definite traditional style. A sort of  Kenyan folk/blues music. I don't really connect with this more traditional style although the guitar playing is of a high standard and the recordings have been well remastered for this release, I find it all starts to sound the same and becomes difficult to differentiate the songs from each other. I get that is is a quality release for this style of music, but I find myself unmoved  and will be deleting from my hard drive. Rating 2/5

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fela Ransome-Kuti and His Koola Lobitos - Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Koola Lobitos (LP Nigeria, 1965

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music month

[A] Signature Tune / It's Highlife Time / Lagos Baby / Omuti / Ololufe / Araba's Delight
[B] Wa Dele / Lai Se / Mi O Mo / Obinrin Le / Omo Ejo

I have been meaning to start reviewing some more of the magnificent Fela Kuti since I purchased the Complete Works box set last Christmas and now with me having an African music month and with a version of this album playing on the MP3 player at work, now is the time. This compilation of early Fela and His Koola Lobitos could well be his first album, according  to this excellent Fela Discography. This wonderful collection of  early Fela singles is played in the popular Nigerian Highlife style of the time, which is local African rhythms blended with a strong Jazz flavour. Fela is in great form on these tracks with some great trumpet solos in these groovy dance numbers and although this is not His famous Afrobeat, it is still exciting music and I have grown to appreciate it immensely. The recording quality of this version is a bit distorted around the edges, but considering when and where these tracks were recorded, its not too bad. This particular copy I am listening too as I type was apparently ripped from the very rare original vinyl copy. Six of the tracks were included on a CD release paired with "The 69' LA Sessions" and is the only way you can get them on CD at present. I have that CD in the box set. It was also issued in its entirety on the 3 disc set " Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul" out of  Japan a few years back, but is now out of print.
Sitting and immersing myself into this music involves plenty of toe tapping and being highly captivated by the trumpet solos, most enjoyable and getting a rating of 4/5.

Get this original version Here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lijadu Sisters - Double Trouble (Nigeria/USA 1984)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month

2. ERORA (4:27)
3. GBOWO-MI (4:46)
5. COME ON HOME (5:15)
6. NOT ANY LONGER (4:52)

These twin sisters were brought to my attention by the excellent opening track "Orere-Elejigbo" which cropped up on one of the many Afrofunk compilations I have, as well as on a Voodoo Funk Playlist, I think.
More afro pop than afro funk this US release was compiled from a couple of their recent albums at the time and is pretty hard to get your hands on today. Excellent harmony singing with laid back funky afropop grooves make for an overall very enjoyable listen, with the first track being the stand out number. With plenty  of  English lyrics and the African inflections well mixed in with the lite disco/pop/funk, its no wonder this got released in the States and deserved more success than it probably got at the time. I recommend this and rate it 3.5/5.

Check it out Here

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) - Dollar Brand At Montreux 1980

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month

1. Tsakve (1:44)
2. Whoza Mtwana (8:46)
3. The Homecoming Song (7:35)
4. The Wedding (3:34)
5. The Perfumed Forest Wet with Rain (9:36)
6. Ishmael (10:01)

Carlos Ward — alto sax, flute
Craig Harris — trombone
Alonzo Gardener — el bass
Andre Strobert — drums

Well it has been quite some time since I got round to doing any reviews, what with two major earthquakes, my laptop experiencing a major meltdown and my ipod dying as well. Things are getting back on track now with a new laptop and I've finally got all my digital music reloaded into Itunes, so its time to get serious with all this obscure music I have been finding on the internet.
I decided that June is going to be African Music Month, with about 100 compilations of various types of African music loaded into one playlist and several albums loaded onto the MP3 player I am using until I can afford a new Ipod. Starting the African music month early with a review of one of the albums I randomly loaded onto the MP3 player this morning.
Abdullah Ibrahim, also known as Dollar Brand is someone I recently discovered via a blog I visit occasionally and blew me away with his Soweto Album from 1975. So I was chuffed to discover that I also had a copy of this album in my world music folder and duly loaded it onto the MP3 Player for consumption at work.
This well recorded live album was a little disappointing on first hearing on the headphones today and I still wasn't too into it when it repeated while exercising after work. A more laid back effort than "Soweto" and more conventional in its' Jazz than the aforementioned album. Which is why I probably didn't connect with it so much today, as it wasn't quite what I was expecting compared to the other Afro funky stuff I was listening to. Giving it another closer inspection tonight, I am finding this LP much more enjoyable and more Afrocentric than I first thought. "Whoza Mtwana" is my favorite and most African sounding and "The Homecoming Song" is also fun and more up tempo with great sax blowing over a really funky beat, a real fusion number. "The Wedding" is totally trad Jazz and one of those slow sloppy jazz ballads that I really don't get into and "The Perfumed Forest Wet with Rain" is also a slow number in that annoying-never really gets going- style, like a lot of euro jazz and finally "Ishmael",  with a title like that it is no wonder it has a strong Klezmer feel to it and reminds me a bit of Masada. Quite a minimal track with a repeating bass line and occasional drums filled out with sax and flute experiments. Better than the previous two tracks.
On Closer inspection, this album does present some rewards, especially on tracks 2 and 3. Mostly a Jazz album with African overtones and getting a Roddus rating of 3/5 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mt Torlesse - 21st May 2011

Uncle Roddus Tramping diary:Tramp No.103
Mt Torlesse 21st May 2011

After staying home last weekend and also a couple of weeks previously because the weather forecast wasn't too conducive for a pleasant day climbing the planned mountains, I was hoping like hell for a good day for this trip to  a nearby peak which can be seen clearly from my town. This was a CTC trip and after picking up a prospective new club member form just around the corner, we met the rest of the party at Springfield, as I usually do. The day was brilliant, with hardly a cloud in the sky, as we headed up the Kowai River from the main highway about 8:30am. The sun was still well behind the mountain and the air crisp in the valley, but we soon warmed up with a brisk walk along the four wheel drive track heading up stream. We arrived at the John Hayward Memorial hut in around an hour and had a drink and snack before starting up the long ridge for our 1150M climb to the top of Torlesse. I had been on Torlesse before about 8 years ago, but got onto it from another direction and didn't have much visibility while up there. As we climbed, the wind grew stronger and much colder and at about the half way mark we were putting back on the layers of clothing we had removed lower down. At around the 1500M mark, I stopped for food and refreshments with the lead tramper 20 odd meters in front of me. As I sat down out of the wind, I heard him exclaim loudly just before I saw his backpack rolling down the hill in front of me. luckily I was able to leap down the hill and stop it just before it picked up more speed and disappeared down the valley. We ascended the last 400 odd meters a bit slower, but in sunlight and with falling wind speed and reached the top in about 4 hours from the cars.
With such a clear day, the vistas from the top were stunning, with clear views right down to Mt Cook/Aorangi, although the plains were pretty hazy. After enjoying the views and taking lots of photos, we settled down out of the wind to have lunch, after which we headed off along the tops to the east, circling round behind the hut and dropping down to the line of hills to the south of the hut. We were looking for a scree to drop back down to the river and after finally finding it also found that most of the shingle at the top part was gone but it got a lot better lower down. The scree took us back down to the kowai River just downstream from the hut and it was then just the long walk downriver back to the car.

Heading up the Kowai with Torlesse at the end

The John Hayward Memorial hut, built in 1973 for hydrology research

Looking across at Castle Hill and the Gap

Looking back down the ridge to the Hut and the Kowai River

Getting near the top

On the top looking across to Red Hill and Castle Hill. Mt Cook can be seen off in the far distance in the left of the photo

Looking across to Mt Oxford

Another shot of  the ridge we ascended, taken from the top


The Hazy Canterbury plains

Another shot of the Torlesse Range

Torlesse taken from around point 1152 above the hut, we came back down the ridge on the right.

Moss covered rocks, a small sample of the largest number I have ever seen in one area. Someone called them Vegetable Sheep

A full shot of the ridge we ascended

The scree we descended

A last shot of the mountain with the afternoon sun reflected off it.