7 February 2010

Assagai Afro Rock Festival

As I promised some weeks ago here's a digitised version of the OOP Afro Rock Festival featuring the Dudu Pukwana-led Assagai along with Simba also featuring Pukwana, some early Osibisa tracks, and two a piece from afro-rock bands Chaka and Grutz.

The title of the record shouldn't lead you to think this is a recording of a music festival celebrating the early years of British afro-rock. This is 'festival' as in "a compilation of tracks from bands that are vaguely connected musically to try and capitalise on the popularity of one of the bands after they left our label". The front cover is indicative of the sorts of simplistic notions of African music and musicians commonly deployed in the UK at the time, and thus the way a whole continent of music was rammed into a narrow cultural and economic niche.

This isn't the sort of music which usually gets posted at ISol, but you will enjoy it if you like rythmically-driven jazz improvisations with an afro-beat flavour. If you are a completist for the music of Dudu Pukwana, Louis Moholo and Mongezi Feza then here's one that (as far as I can tell) is not available in blog-land. It has been sitting undigitised in my collection, and it is a very long time since I last listened to it, but it is far better than my memory of playing it last suggested. It did lead me on to Pukwana's Spear records, and then to the Blue Notes and free jazz experiments, and I rather assigned this earlier record to the 'exoticised pop' category

Afro-rock was a marketing term coined in Britain in the early 1970s to describe the music of Osibisa who popularised African music with a dance beat to rock and pop loving Brits. Osibisa were remarkably successful, with chart hits, sell out tours and lots of music press coverage. Pukwana went after the same market with far less success with Assagai, and rock-hybrid Simba.

There's virtually nothing of the Kwela-influenced jazz, let alone free improvisation associated with Pukwana's other projects. However, there is some great playing on both the two Assagai tracks and the collaborations with progressive rock band, Jade Warrior, as Simba (yes, even on the cover of Louie Louie).

1973 Assagai, Chaka, Grutz, Simba and Osibisa Afro Rock Festival

Dudu Pukwana (alto and piano)
Mongezi Feza (tenor)
Bizo Muggikana (tenor)
Fred Frederick (tenor/baratone)
Tony Duhig (guitar)
Jon Field (bass guitar)
Glyn Havard (flute/percussion)

Dudu Pukwana (alto and piano)
Mongezi Feza (tenor)
Bizo Muggikana (tenor)
Fred Frederick (tenor/baratone)
Fred Coker (guitar)
Charles Cuonogbo ? (bass guitar)
Louis Moholo (drums)
Terry Quaye (conga)
Smiley de Jonnes (congas/percussion)
Martha Mdenge (vocals)
with: Tony Duhig, Jon Field, and Glyn Havard (from prog rock band Jade Warrior)

1. African Rhapsody Part 1 (by Chaka)
2. Black Ant (by Osibisa)
3. Kotoka (by Osibisa)
4. Movin’ (by Simba)
5. Louie Louie (by Simba)
6. Kondo (by Assagai)
7. Jabula (by Assagai)
8. Tiksh Billa (by Grutz)
9. Listen Here (by Grutz)
10. African Rhapsody Part 2 (by Chaka)


gilhodges said...


First, let me say thank you ten times for this wonderful collection. The Assagai tracks are ever brilliant, but the Simba tracks, with Dudu and Mongs, are a joy to hear.

I did notice one confusion, though. The opening tune, "African Rhapsody, Part 1," by Chaka, sounds to my ears to simply be a copy of the opening 1:52 of the following tune, "Black Ant," by Osibisa. I've compared the first cut to the first 1:52 of the second cut and they sound one and the same. (Even with minor clicks and pops in identical places.) Would you mind terribly checking back and, if I am accurate, reupping the correct "African Rhapsody, Part 1."

(If I am in error, accept my apologies. I don't in any way mean to sound ungrateful. Because I am extremely grateful.)

All your work with the David Murray info and the various discographies are also most appreciated.

Wallofsound said...

@gilhodges, yes, are right. The audio editing application I use to cut up my music files had a mind of its own this morning. It seems to have taken a African Rhapsody length chunk from the start of the next track. I'll go back to the original file and create and upload the correct track.

Wallofsound said...

There's a fault in the track tagged as African Rhapsody. It's actually the start of the next track, so as well as downloading your preferred format, download the African_Rhapsody_Part_1_flac_MP3 file which contains the real track in both formats.



Lossy (320kbps):

Missing track in flac and MP3:

gilhodges said...

Massive thanks! Your selfless—and speedy—efforts are a wonder.

Wallofsound said...

@gilhodges, again thanks for letting me know bout the problem. You didn't sound at all ungrateful, and I appreciate your comments about my work at http://wallofsound.wordpress.com

It's worth the effort when people find it useful.

kinabalu said...

Thanks for filling in that hole, Wos.

Anonymous said...

I might as well become a Pukwana completeist. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

thank you very very much. you are the best

Public Mentor said...

Thank you very much for this album!!

I'm just starting devouring Osibisa albums, and it first hit me "Black Ant" on Mark Lamarr's God Jukebox show... which was really fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Please re- up

have Wonderful albums of Assagai in FLAC ?
thank for your blog

Exilestreet said...

Damn! Another one I missed. Would be really grateful if there was any chance of a reup. Thanksin advance

Guitarradeplastico your favorite musician said...

Please re-up

indigonoir said...

I too would appreciate a re-post. Thank you in advance.

esibo said...

Adding a voice to the re-up requests. Can you please help?

Guitarradeplastico your favorite musician said...

Please re-up