Published on November 2nd, 2015 | by Hondo0
Africa Airways Two – Funk Departures 1973-1982
I’ve never flown on an African airline that looked as cool as the ones on the covers of Africa Seven’s Africa Airways compilations. The aircraft I flew on were were invariably faded and rusty, the flight attendants grumpy and uninterested, and the pilots disheveled and drunk.
The closest I came was an Ethiopian Airways flight I caught to Nairobi. The interior of that jet was all 1970s oranges and browns and the muzak piped over the speakers was Ethio-Jazz from the same period.
Two things stopped me enjoying the experience as much as I could have. The first was the unscheduled stop in Rome to unload a passenger who had died in his seat shortly after we took off from London. The second was the nagging concern that the jet was maintained as regularly as the interior was updated.
There was nothing to stop me enjoying this latest LP from Africa Seven though. Africa Seven only started up last year, but such is the quality of their stuff that they have quickly joined my list of labels that I automatically buy every release.
Africa Airways One was their first LP, a compilation that acted as a showcase of the riches that were to come. It was followed by three Manu Dibango releases (including his freaky soundtrack, Ceddo), a couple of Jo Tongo/Jo Bisso LP’s, and a pair of Tala A.M. and Sookie co-releases with African Roadtrip. You’ve got to admit, that’s one helluva first eight months.
On African Airways Two, Africa Seven have unashamedly stuck to the formula of their debut. The album starts with an absolute stonker by Pasteur Lappe and doesn’t let up until the needle reaches the end of Myriam Makeba’s strange, but extremely groovy, ode to the reliability and aspirational appeal of Toyotas. The funk is deep and the groove pan-African.
If sweet strings and funky bass lines wrapped around a late 70s style disco groove is your bag, M’Bamina serves that up in “Kilowi Kilowi.” Slap bass and striking brass lines more your thing? Drop the needle on “Tata Ngoh” by Misse Ngoh. How about a James Brown style fuelled funk stomper? “Relax. (Before Doin’ Sex)” from Oscar Harris and The Twinkle Stars will hit that particular sweet spot.
To be honest though, you could do worse than listen to the whole album from start to finish. From Jo Tongo’s legendary “Piani” to Bozambo’s synyh-driven afro-funk groove, “Get it On The Music”, there isn’t a dud track on it.
If I had to chose a favourite it would be Myriam Makeba’s “Toyota Fantasy.” Recorded during her exile years in Guinea, it was given away as a promotional 7” and is arguably her most obscure track. It shouldn’t work – an African superstar singing the praises of Toyotas over a funky groove – but somehow it does. Perhaps it’s something VW should consider to improve their damaged reputation.
According to the Africa Seven website, there’s an Africa Airways Three ready for take-off in early 2016. And the word is that it has been fuelled up with some intensely psychedelic propellant.
I’m booking my ticket right now.