Thursday, 13 September 2007


Something completely different.

"In the dying years of Emperor Haile Sellaisse I and the first stirrings of a brutal military dictatorships the soul groups, jazz combos and big bands of Ethiopia played like never before or since."

That's the first sentence from the back of a double-CD - "The Very Best of Ethiopiques" - just out. Check it out - fantastic - I haven't bought an actual CD for over a year now, but had to buy this when I heard it.

"The main body of Ethiopian vinyl was produced in less than one decade from 1969 to 1978. All in all, just under 500 45s and around 30 LP albums were released..."

"The recordings were made with a minimum of technical equipment. A microphone for the singer, and another in the middle for the musicians; a two-track tape recorder, no re-recording or mixing, and usually recorded in clubs where, because of the curfew, the dinner bands performed in the early evenings..."

Music (particularly jazz-heavy music!) that is actually melodic and evocative rather than intellectual or self-referential tootles and poop-de-poops. Could this be a lot to do with the immediate and social environment these people were in - does continuous prosperity only breed complaceny and indulgence? Can happiness ever give rise to the creation of great art? There's a question...

Enough tangential verbiage - website here, with samples on that as well. Click through on the track-listings for brief bios on the performers. Awesome music - some absolutely stunning tracks - entire double-CD is superb (very little, if any, "padding" tracks).

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