Thursday, May 19, 2022



African Dances – Authentic 601, compiled by John Storm Roberts, 1973 (LP)

#Congo #rumba lingala #Cuban #Cubaine #bantous de la Capitale #OK Jazz #musique congolaise #Highlife #Ghana # S.E. Rogie #John Storm Roberts #Juju #Original Music #Kenya #South Africa #Sax Jive #Tanzania #Docteur Nico #Le Grand Kalle #Congolese #Les Bantous de la Capitale #Kinshasa #Brazzaville #urban music #African Music #musique africaine #MusicRepublic #Vinyl
#Congo #rumba lingala #Cuban #Cubaine #bantous de la Capitale #OK Jazz #musique congolaise #Highlife #Ghana # S.E. Rogie #John Storm Roberts #Juju #Original Music #Kenya #South Africa #Sax Jive #Tanzania #Docteur Nico #Le Grand Kalle #Congolese #Les Bantous de la Capitale #Kinshasa #Brazzaville #urban music #African Music #musique africaine #MusicRepublic #Vinyl
#Congo #rumba lingala #Cuban #Cubaine #bantous de la Capitale #OK Jazz #musique congolaise #Highlife #Ghana # S.E. Rogie #John Storm Roberts #Juju #Original Music #Kenya #South Africa #Sax Jive #Tanzania #Docteur Nico #Le Grand Kalle #Congolese #Les Bantous de la Capitale #Kinshasa #Brazzaville #urban music #African Music #musique africaine #MusicRepublic #Vinyl
#Congo #rumba lingala #Cuban #Cubaine #bantous de la Capitale #OK Jazz #musique congolaise #Highlife #Ghana # S.E. Rogie #John Storm Roberts #Juju #Original Music #Kenya #South Africa #Sax Jive #Tanzania #Docteur Nico #Le Grand Kalle #Congolese #Les Bantous de la Capitale #Kinshasa #Brazzaville #urban music #African Music #musique africaine #MusicRepublic #Vinyl

In the early 1990s I sought out John Storm Roberts’ many excellent compilations on his Original Music label showcasing great 1950s to 1970s pan-African genres like Congolese music, Ghanaian Highlife, Nigerian Yoruba Juju and Ibo Highlife, South-African Sax Jive, East-African music from Kenya and Tanzania, and much more. Roberts also published accessible seminal books closely connected to his many musical explorations of the multidirectional cross pollination of European, North American, Caribbean and African musics, including Black Music of Two Worlds (1972) and The Latin Tinge (1979).


This 1973 LP presents a compelling panorama of precious stellar tracks from the Golden Age of African music:

Au début des années 1990, j'ai découvert les nombreuses compilations de grande qualité de John Storm Roberts sur son label Original Music qui présentait de grands styles panafricains des années 1950 à 1970 tels la musique congolaise, le Highlife ghanéen, le Juju Yorouba et le Ibo Highlife du Nigéria, le Sax Jive sud-africain, les musiques du Kenya et de la Tanzanie. Roberts publia également des écrits étroitement liés à ses nombreuses explorations des brassages multidirectionnels entre musiques européennes, nord-américaines, caribéennes et africaines, notamment Black Music of Two Worlds (1972) et The Latin Tinge (1979).


Cet album de 1973 présente un panorama fascinant de morceaux précieux de l'âge d'or de la musique africaine :

Congo (Kinshasa) & Congo (Brazzaville)

A1 – Kale-Roger and Rochereau (Tabu Ley) with Orchestre OK Jazz – Afrika Mokili Mobimba 

A2 – Les Bantous de la Capitale – Lisie 


These two Congolese Rumba Lingala gems, influenced by the Cuban idiom with sophisticated African electric guitars – whose circular patterns recall the indigenous African thumb piano – convey a different ambiance with a fluid and sensuous “African touch.” The LP kicks off with a rare – and the best  version of the glorious pan-African anthem Afrika Mokili Mobimba (A1), performed by Kale-Roger-Rochereau (Tabu Ley) and OK Jazz, and Lisie (A2) by Les Bantous de la Capitale, the most famous band from Brazzaville facing Kinshasa on the other side of the Congo River.

From the 1920s, 78 RPM shellac discs of Cuban music – a unique fusion of “West African” components (polyrhythm, call-response and trance-like intensity) and “European” components (Spanish language, romanticism, guitars, horns, flutes, violins and orchestration) – had a tremendous impact on the creative cultural breeding grounds in fast-growing urban centers like Leopolville (Kinshasa) and Brazzaville. Cuban Rumba and Charangas, along with other musics, like Dominican Merengue and Trinidadian Calypso, were all urban musics that conveyed a modern identity removed from traditional tribal affiliations.


A3 – Ahamano's Guitar Band – Me Nsae Da 

A4 – The Broadway Dance Band – Broadway Special 

Two Ghanaian highlife tracks with a raw guitar band  (A3) and a Jazz-tinged orchestra (A4). This highly influential Pan-African style also took root in Nigeria.


A5 – Dele Ojo and His Star Brothers Band – Omo Oloja 


Yoruba Juju.

Sierra Leone

A6 – S.E. Rogie – Toomus Meremereh No Good 


Palm-wine guitar music.


South Africa

A7 – Miss Smodern – Untitled 

A8 – Leribe – Untitled


While most African urban styles were initially influenced by Caribbean music (Cuban, Merengue, Calypso, etc.), South African music was inspired by North American Gospel and 1930s Jazz, i.e., Count Basie (1904-1984) and Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), in an era when Jazz was still dance music, prior to its evolution toward complex and cerebral instrument-solo-based forms. The Leribe Sax Jive track (A8) – presumably from the 1950s – is a brilliant clearly-defined fusion of Jazz and South African rhythms, and (A7) is a heartfelt fast-tempoed song with guitar, female vocals and chorus. 



B1 – John Mwale – Kenyatta Aliteswa Sana 

B2 – Peter Tsotsi, Nachil Pichen and The Equator Sound Band – Pole Musa 

B3 – Dick Ngoye and Party – Robinson Olago 

B4 – Yaseen Mohamed and Party – Kula Ajae Na Shari 

Kenyan urban music was highly influenced by Congolese music, but here Roberts features typical Kenyan genres, including a praise song to President Jomo Kenyatta (1897-1978) (B1), a Western-Kenyan Sukuma rhythm (B2), a Kenyan acoustic guitar track in Luo language (B3), and a track (B4) highlighting the influence of Arabic culture in Islamized regions, as well as the use of a Univox synthesizer here in place of the traditional ud and qanun!



B5 – Salim Abdulla with the Cuban Marimba Band – Ndio Hali Ya Dunia 


Congolese-influenced dance music from Dar es Salam.



B6 – M. Makhuwele and Chorus – Ugandzibyeli 


Acoustic guitar and vocals.



B7 – Frida Sonka – Gwenasobya 


Guitar, bass, shakers and female vocals in Luganda language.



B8 – Alemayno Eshirtay Group – Love Is Love


Ethiopian soul.



In a 1987 interview in The Los Angeles Times*, world music scholar, curator and publisher John Storm Roberts (1936 –2009) quipped, “There’s an enormous amount of terrific, ‘real people’ popular music that’s damned hard to find. The commercial industry is only interested in what’s happening, and most ethnomusicologists disapprove of it as being Westernized… I don’t care how esoteric it is, but it’s got to be terrific.”




More stellar tracks from the Golden Age of African music:

Classic Ghana Highlife - Eastern Stars International Band - Cecilia

Classic Congolese - African Fiesta with Docteur Nico (1939-1985) on guitar - Angola Siempre

         Classic South African - Slow Foot King Brothers - Phantsi Ndaze Betha

The 1953 song A Todos Mis Amigos by the great Cuban singer Celia Cruz (1925-2003) & Sonora Matancera celebrates Latin American. Cruz was  popular in cities like Kinshasa and this track most likely inspired the pan-African Africa Mokili Mobimba on this LP (A1).  Until the early 1990s, I met a number of West-Africans passionate and knowledgeable about Cuban music. 

Our other African urban music posts:
King Sunny Adé - Check E - SALPS 26 here
Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe - People's Club Special POLP 070 here
Gbaari - Bariba music from Benin - Radio Parakou archives here
Bariba and Dendi music from Benin - Radio Parakou archives here

Please help me purchase important traditional records to pursue my global 

curation project and share the best finds with you on this blog:


  1. I visited John several times at the Original Music barn. A unique individual.

  2. Thank you for this fantastic document.