Monday music: Digging for Afro Funk

I recently discovered a new phenomenon: digging for vinyl. Vinyl record collectors travel the world looking for special albums mouldering away in people’s sheds, homes, garages. Who knew? Here in Sydney I’d just go to one of the stores that’s sprung up around the city disposing of people’s unwanted collections.

I found out about digging through this post, about a vinyl hunt in Ghana with Frank Gossner, connoisseur and collector of African funk from the 60s and 70s. It’s a fascinating post. Aside from the interesting, sometimes moving travel anecdotes, there’s a thought-provoking discussion in the comments about the ethics of collecting albums in poor countries such as Ghana. I tend to come down on Frank’s side — he funnels the money he makes from selling the records back to the original musicians, as well as giving this lost music a wider, global audience.

This is the kind of thing Frank’s into.

A few years ago I gave all my vinyl away, on ‘permanent loan’ to a friend who promptly moved to Adelaide. It was a milk crate full, almost entirely African albums from the 80s. Before we lost touch, she sent me a couple of cassettes which included some tracks from my albums, and a whole lot of other music she thought I’d like. (I didn’t, much).

Fortunately one of my brothers had already digitised most of the collection. If he hadn’t, I may not have so blithely given it all away. I wonder if there was anything in it that Frank would have liked? I know I had some Orlando Julius: the Dance AfroBeat album. Compared to the previous clip, it’s nothing special, and the video quality’s poor, but the dancing’s fun.

I also had the Lijadu sisters Double Trouble album, which was certainly the right vintage, and definitely funky.

And then there was Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. I’m not sure he’s in quite the right category for Frank Gossner, but the drumming is amazing, the guitars are fluid, and some of the lyrics are fun.

Oh … my … god … I can’t find the track I want on YouTube! Does this mean I have to upload it myself? Well even though it seems 90% of youtube videos probably breach copyright, I’m not going to. Fortunately, you can listen to the album (solution) on spotify. My fave track is WAI: War Against Indiscipline. It’s toward the end of the second track.

Well that’s it from me. I don’t think I can do better than the Chief Commander.


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