Reissues always remind us that the ocean of music is much deeper than the surface of new releases. It seems there’s an inexhaustible treasury of unique and exciting sounds to be unearthed from our collective past. Sometimes focused around singular innovators, others around niche scene and sub-genres and sometimes a good old fashioned remastering of the classics. Reissues are the labor of love that keeps our ears wide and full of wonder. This year we got focuses on mbira master Dumisani Maraire, postmodern Gabonais artist Papé Nziengui, Ethiopian piano virtuoso Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru and the hypnotic guitar of John Ondolo. There’s also thematic compilations that dive into the psychedelic sounds of Africa, Ghanaian digital dance music, Mexico’s sonidero culture or the multigenerational impacts of soundsystems between the UK and Carribean. Some key anniversaries include Idris Ackamoor’s 50 years with The Pyramids and the 50th anniversary of Fela Kuti’s Roforofo Fight. But the lesser known deep southern soul of The Staples Singers or the iconic sessions of the Iftin Band in Mogadishu also deserve a fresh listen. For those with old souls and curious ears, this selection of 30 reissues, ordered alphabetically, is for you.
Afro Psych: Journeys into Psychedelic Africa 1972 – 1977
Africa Seven – 12/08/2022
In the 1970s, West African music underwent a psychedelic rock turn, negotiated by youth groups influenced by the riffs of Jimi Hendrix, Santana or The Doors. Epicenter of this emerging scene, the city of Lagos was also the stronghold of the mythical label Afrodisia, known for hosting some releases of Fela Kuti, E.T. Mensah or Christy Essien. Since the birth of the structure in 1972, Afrodisia welcomed in its catalog those artists able to add those guitar riffs, those Hammond organ solos and those funky bass lines, bringing a certain psychedelic magic coupled with a rock’n’roll energy to the genres of the time. The iconic twins of Lagos, Lijadu Sisters, the Igbo highlife of Oriental Brothers International Band or the almost garage groove of Aura are part of this fine and coherent selection of 9 tracks spanning from 1972 to 1977.
Les Disques Bongo Joe — 01/04/2022
Accompanied by their expert curator DJ Tom B, Les Disques Bongo Joe continue their research work around the sounds of São Tomé and Principe, a tiny island country in Africa with a musical richness inversely proportional to its size. The Swiss label proposes a first anthology of the emblematic supergroup África Negra, 12 tracks selected from several mediums, released between 1981 and 1990. Formed in 1970 by the butcher by trade, Horacio and his guitarist friend Emidio Pontes, África Negra (Black Africa) became one of the absolute symbols of the Carnation Revolution which led the archipelago to independence on July 12, 1975. Under the pressure of the Portuguese colonial power, África Negra was even forced to change its name, but its music, a unique blend of puxa and rumba rhythms, did not break. Songs synonymous with hope that were recorded, for lack of studio space, in the courtyard of the national radio, facing the sea and in front of their fans.
AOMAWA: THE 1970s RECORDINGS
Idris Ackamoor – 15/07/2022
Idris Ackamoor is celebrating 50 years of the pyramids this year with a new album and also a reissue of some of The Pyramids music from the early years in the 1970s. A group that was formed in the USA, practiced in the Netherlands, and picked up pan-African notes from trips to Ghana, Zimbabwe and other nations, is an epic fusion of North American funk and jazz with the many sounds of a vagabonding group. These early years, full of African mythological references and sounding like Sun Ra or Don Cherry, this reissue is a window into a group that, though still young and upon the crest of their 50 year long career, is still full of creative wonder, joy and virtuosic excitement. 3 LPs and 15 tracks, this series is not stingy with the goods, bringing forth all of the original cuts, versions and demo sessions from the group that later became the bread and butter of The Pyramids.
Strut Records – 11/11/2022
This album gathers 15 tunes, including the classic “Ah Lusialala”. Using a vibrant tempo, and storytelling like the Ivorian anthem “1er Gaou”, it humorously tells the story of a distressed man, who fell for a greedy woman. This song earned Nbiki Albert his moniker “Lusialala”. Other titles showcase Balka’s richness like “Wa Yiwou”, a spiritual chant in the Teke language. “Nia Nia”, sang in Beembe, is an homage to mothers and grandmothers infused with rumba influences. The Balka Sound compilation participates in the preservation of Congo’s musical heritage. Founding member Henri Nsika Nkaya envisions it as “an update, a unification, and an internationalization of Congolese cultures.” And to pass this almost forgotten legacy on to future generations, the artist’s daughter Makila Nsika Nkaya curated the project. With this album, Balka music is finally immortalized.
Borga Revolution! Ghanaian Dance Music in the Digital Age Vol. 1
Kalita Records — 17/06/2022
A mixture of jazz, calypso and traditional rhythms, highlife has been evolving ever since its birth at the turn of the 1920s, taking inspiration from swing, funk, soul and disco. In the late 1970s, successive coups, years of military dictatorship, economic crisis and increasing poverty pushed many Ghanaians -including many musicians- to seek a better life in Europe and the United States. Influenced by Western music and machines, these immigrant artists developed burger-highlife and invaded the Ghanaian airwaves for over two decades. Kalita dedicates a compilation to this phenomenon by selecting both emblematic artists of the genre and more obscure groups, all protagonists of this historic passage to the digital era.
Disco Reggae Rockers
Soul Jazz Records – 29/09/2022
Soul Jazz Records puts together a 4-side LP with deep disco-reggae cuts as a follow-up to their Hustle! Reggae Disco compilation. Highlights include Devon Russell’s unique take on Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”, Risco Connection’s super-sweet version of the Diana Ross classic “It’s My House” (which also appears on the Risco Connection compilation featured elsewhere on this list), Valerie Harrison’s interpretation of Meli’sa Morgan’s “Fools Paradise” and Hortense Ellis re-frame of Candi Staton hit “Young Hearts Run Free”. A smooth package that brings the island vibes to the colorful disco-dancefloor for a sub-genre that’s been garnering attention.
Gallo Record Company – 15/07/2022
It’s hard to find information on this South African disco-jazz gem from The Drive. Originally released on Gallo Records in 1975, this funky and wobbly 8 tracker can move between soulful slow jams on “God Bless Your Souls” to the Afro-funk drama of “Ain’t Sittin’ Down Doin’ Nothin’”. If a single were to be chosen from the bunch it’d be “Tears of Joy” that finds a way to bring all these elements together in an upbeat lick. The reissue of this project founded by Adolphus “Bunny” Luthuli is the sure way to keep these timeless hits alive and spinning.
Nyami Nyami Records – 06/05/2022
Born in 1944, Dumisani Maraire pioneered the spread of traditional Shona music beyond Zimbabwe’s frontiers. He moved to the US in the late 60s where he introduced American students to the mbira, a traditional instrument of the Shona made of staggered metal tines attached to a wooden board. Dumisani Maraire and his family – his wife Mau Chi and daughter Chiwoniso – returned to Zimbabwe not long after the country’s independence and recorded the album Tichazomuoana together. The Nyunga Nyunga Mbira is also credited separately on the original album cover, probably because of the personal relation Dumi had with his instrument. Maraire’s daughter Chiwoniso, who was ten at the time, is featured on the title track. She went on to become an accomplished musician herself; the first-ever release of Nyami Nyami Records was her song “Zvichapera”, which she recorded a few weeks before she passed away in 2013. A wonderful family affair with a full tour of the traditional sound of one of the mbira’s most renowned teachers.
El Rey De Caribe
Viviano Torres Ane Swing
Palenque Records – 07/03/2022
Born in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, Viviano Torres is considered one of the pioneers of champeta, a hybrid style characteristic of the Colombian Caribbean coast. In a country dominated by salsa or vallenato, Viviano is a musician who has always defended the genre, starting with the emblematic group Son Palenque. While the champeta style was consolidating in Cartagena, the artist differentiated himself by creating his group Ane Swing, soaking his music with a wide range of influences such as Congolese soukous, South African mbaqanga, Cameroonian makossa, Ghanaian highlife or even Afrobeat and reggae. Palenque records compiled here the best hits of Viviano Torres and Ane Swing released in the 80’s and 90’s, telling a part of the history and evolution of the champeta through the sound of one of its icons.
Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru
Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru
EMAHOY TSEGE MARIAM MUSIC PUBLISHER – 01/07/2022
A fine reedition from one of the world’s most enigmatic and truly original pianists on the planet, Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, born in 1923. Emahoy’s music sits “somewhere between Erik Satie, Debussy, liturgical music of the Coptic Ethiopian Church, and Ethiopian traditional music.” These piano strokes, whose recordings date back to the 1960s are moving and full of history. With liner notes from Emahoy herself, who lived a life of wonder between boarding school in Switzerland, a prisoner of war in Asinara during the Italo-Ethiopian war, or as a student under Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz in Cairo, we find the religious calm that is projected in the maestro’s music. In “Ballad of Spirits” Emahoy writes, “Everyone knows how a mother’s love sacrifices itself for the welfare and happiness of her children. Indeed! A mother’s love is a fortress.” Proceeds from the album sales will go to her foundation aimed at, “using music as a vessel to care for those who have been abandoned by society, or harmed by strife.”
Hypnotic Guitar of John Ondolo
Mississippi Records – 02/09/2022
For the past 10 years, Chicago-based Mississippi Records has been preparing this precious reissue dedicated to John Ondolo, the unsung hero of East African music. Inspired by the explosion of the Kenyan pop scene and rock music imported from the United States, John Ondolo always stayed in his own bubble, leaving his farm at the foot of Kilimanjaro only to go to the studio in Nairobi in the 1950s and 60s. Unlike most musicians in his region, he used the open chord technique of American blues guitarists, creating hypnotic loops, receptacles for infinite rhythmic variations inspired by the tribal music of the Kuria people. This collection gathers 12 tracks found among the rare first 78 rpm recordings of this guitarist ahead of his time.
Awesome Tapes From Africa – 08/04/2022
Awesome Tapes Africa just released a reissue of Papé Nziengui’s most acclaimed album from the late 80s, Kadi Yombo. Considered to be one of the best Gabonese ngombi players (the Gabonese harp) of his time, Papé Nziengui built quite a reputation for himself beyond Gabon’s frontiers as the pioneer of Gabonese “postmodernism” combining modern instruments – like the electric guitars present in “Gho Mitsaba Na Voko” – with Tsogho ritual music.All ten tracks of Kadi Yombo make up an initiatory journey for the non-initiated as Papé Nziengi has always described himself to be.
La Rebajada de los Sonideros
Analog Africa — 15/04/2022
A little-known style, the Rebajada was invented by sonideros, DJs who take DIY sound systems to the Mexican streets playing cumbia, salsa, or guaracha. In Mexico City, some of them had the idea of slowing down traditional Colombian rhythms to adapt them to local dance steps, while up north in Monterrey, another version was born by accident. According to legend, sonidero Gabriel Dueñez’s equipment short-circuited and began to run in slow motion for the rest of the evening. Watching the dancers, the DJ got the idea and recorded a series of pirated cassettes of slowed down Colombian cumbia and porro, entitled “Rebajada”. Selected by DJ Lengua, these 15 tracks, most of them never released, tell the story of a style emblematic of a generation of young Mexicans with a trendy look, who came to seek an escape from their harsh living conditions through dance.
Idrissa Soumaoro, L’Eclipse De L’I.J.A.
Mr. Bongo — 13/05/2022
The album Le Tioko-Tioko was recorded at Radio Mali under the supervision of bluesman Boubacar Traoré who worked as a sound engineer. It was distributed sporadically via the Malian Association for the Blind in Bamako. Fortunately, British label Mr Bongo strives to unearth these lost gems. In 2017, a compilation album named The Original Sound of Mali was unveiled by the label. It included two tracks from Le Tioko-Tioko: “Nissodia” (joy of optimism in Bambara) and “Fama Allah” (an ode to god). The former was later remixed in 2020 by former Beastie Boys’s singer and drummer Mike D. The British label was also the one to release this single. It is now time for the full album to receive a reedition, 45 years after its initial release, in the hope it will reach a wider audience.
Lèspri Ka : New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe 1981-2010
Time Capsule / Séance Centre — 28/01/2022
Selectors Brandon Hocura and Cedric Lassonde take a look at the sonic soul of Guadeloupe by condensing 30 years of gwoka music into 10 handpicked tracks. The compilation not only centers its history on this big drum called gwoka, a symbolic instrument of resistance to slavery, but it also tells the story of how musicians have innovated around this ancestral genre. Initially made of songs and percussions, this music anchored in the musical, ritual and social practices of African slaves and their descendants has mutated to welcome jazzy, funky or electronic atmospheres. Singers convey powerful messages of independence in psychedelic and danceable arrangements rarely heard outside the island. Pioneering artists such as Gaoulé Mizik, Gui Konket or Kalindi Ka combine Creole culture and innovation in this indispensable double LP.
Life Between Islands
Soul Jazz Records — 28/01/2022
One of the most eclectic compilations on the list, Soul Jazz’s Life Between the Islands, a collection inspired by the Tate Britain’s exhibit of the same name explores the links between Caribbean and British music from the 1950s onward, captured in the second half of the title, Black Musical Expression in the UK 1973-2006. The album features an all-star line-up including Dennis Bovell, Shut Up and Dance, Cymande, Digital Mystikz, Brown Sugar, Funk Masters, Janet Kay, Ragga Twins and more. Whether it’s the non-stop jazz from Harry Beckett on “No Time For Hello”, the classic and once deleted dubstep of the Digital Mystikz or the luscious disco-rocksteady of Dee Sharp on “Rising To The Top” the compilation is a full tour of the multi-generational soundsystem cultures.
Abdel Halim Hafez
WeWantSounds — 02/12/2022
Wewantsounds reissues Mawood, one of the cornerstones of Egyptian music, recorded in 1971 by legendary Arabic singer Abdel Halim Hafez. Famously sampled by Jay-Z on “Big Pimpin'” for one of his 60s tracks, Hafez is captured here live with his full orchestra including Omar Khorshid on guitar. The album mixes traditional Arabic music with modern instrumentation and 70s groove. “Mawood” is one of Hafez’s all-time classics, written by the legendary composer Baligh Hamdi. Reissued for the first time in decades, this single track, double-sided LP is a testament to Egyptian groove.
Mogadishu’s Finest : The Al-Uruba Sessions
Ostinato Records — 18/11/2022
Mogadishu’s Finest : The Al-Uruba Sessions is the result of seven years of research and digitalization, led by Ostinato Records’s founder Vik Sohonie and researcher Nicolas Sheikholeslami. At the start of the civil war in Somalia in the 1990’s, the original recordings left Al-Uruba’s studio. The cassettes traveled all over Africa, from Nairobi to Djibouti and Dubai, and even in Europe. The compilation of Iftin Band’s work is an exceptional occasion to rediscover one of the most important eras in Somalia’s music history. The 13 titles of Mogadishu’s Finest are tales, fables and poems, mostly about love: obsession (“Wiilkii Aan Ku Waashee”), passion (“Sig Sig Nima”) and heartbreak (“Kurbo Jaceyl”). Every song is a precious window to the past and a peak at Iftin Band’s contemporaries’ daily life.
Rhythm of the City
Arabusta Records – 04/11/2022
Originally grabbing attention for the reissue of the rare Já Bô Corre D’Mim of the Cape Verdean Tchiss Lopes, Arabusta records now turns its interest towards a Jamaican artist for its second release. Born in Kingston, Leighton “Pluto” Shervington started playing guitar at an early age, joining bands like The Presidents, The Hurricanes or Tomorrow’s Children. After a few hits recognized in his country and internationally, he launched a solo career before moving to Miami in 1977 to escape the political turmoil in Jamaica. In this album released in 1988, the urban vibrations, the technological vision and the nightlife of the Magic City are told in music by a mad scientist of reggae who does not hesitate to abuse the codes, by injecting funk, disco and boogie elements.
Strut Records – 01/07/2022
Strut brings together a choice selection of reggae-disco singles and versions from drummer “Drummie” Joe Isaacs. Released on Drummie’s Black Rose imprint from Canada in Integrated Sound in Toronto, he says, “With Risco Connection, we wanted to try something new, songs that would have a crossover between disco and the rocksteady feeling and the right lyrics. We had trouble getting them well distributed widely at the time but people still picked up on the sound.” Each track is contagiously groovy and a sweet blend of the best of reggae and disco flavored with the classic instrumentations of heavy hitting session musicians and vocalists. Opening with the biggest Risco hit, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” which was a favorite at David Mancuso’s famous Loft parties, the whole album runs clear through with no speed bumps on the good vibe highway. A much needed disco blast from the past.
Roforofo Fight – 50th Anniversary
Partisan Records – 19/08/2022
Celebrating the life and the art of Afrobeat pioneer and legendary act Fela Kuti, Partisan Records is releasing Aníkúlápó’s discography on vinyl, giving his original and newer audience a chance to rediscover one of the most important and impactful artists throughout anglophone Africa. The series includes the 1972 sonic masterpiece Roforofo Fight, challenging – in broken English – the oppression and exploitation of the poor and working class, the selfish ruling of the elites, and the violence of the time. Ensuring the physical continuation of the pan-africanist’s legacy, this release will be followed by the gigantic 1973 album Afrodisiac, as well as the infamous Shakara, releasing in January.
Groovie records / Comets Coming — 15/02/2022
The Lisboans of Groovie Records and their subdivision Comets Coming bring their stone to the edifice of the funaná patrimony by taking the album Saudade of the mysterious Marcos out of oblivion. Specialized in rare records and afro and latin nuggets, the label reissues for the first time this album as generous as it is untraceable. Self-produced and recorded in a Portuguese studio in 1984 with mythical musicians such as Paulino Vieira or Chibanga, Saudade is a record of pure funaná which goes straight to the point, without synthesizer, only keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. On funky, jazzy arrangements, and with sometimes reggae influences, Marcos walks us with his reassuring voice throughout his six tracks to discover urgently.
Sharayet El Disco
Arabesquo / WeWantSounds — 03/06/2022
Born in the late eighties, Arabesquo has made it his personal quest to unearth bygone sounds produced in Egypt and drawn from Western influences. This is where Sharayet el Disco comes in, with some of the most popular tunes of the era. It is also worth mentioning that the vast majority of the tracks featured are actually receiving their first vinyl release. This compilation album follows the reissues of Giant + Guitar by Egyptian rocker Omar Khorshid and of Khalik Hena by the Algerian Lebanese diva Warda.
Olindo Records — 27/05/2022
The British label Olindo Records, to whom we owe the last releases of Isaac Sasson, Waaju and Raúl Monsalve y los Forajidos, begins the work of reedition via its subdivision Música Infinita and proposes an Afro-Latino pearl with this limited edition of Siempre Afro-Latino, album of Ray Perez and Los Kenya originally released in 1968 on Velvet. Pianist and bandleader, Ray Perez released numerous albums in the late 60s, a fertile period for the salsa genre, with emblematic groups such as Los Calvos or Los Dementes. After a stint in New York, he returned to Venezuela and formed Los Kenya with two trumpeters and a drummer, a minimalist formation in an era when big bands were king. Adding a pair of vocalists to the team, Ray Perez recorded the raw, groovy, jovial sound that characterizes this reissue!
Summer of Soul (… Or, when the revolution could not be televised)
Rough Trade Records — 28/01/2022
The soundtrack to Questlove’s documentary on the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival with live tracks from Sly & the Family Stone, Ray Barretto, Nina Simone and B.B. King. A joyous expression straight from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that for long stood in the shadow of the infamous Woodstock festival. Bringing together soul, jazz, rock and the experimental sounds of the different groups involved, the festival and documentary shows the plethora of black creativity that flourished during a period that is often associated with hippie-nostalgia and the “Summer of Love” mindset. Instead we’re reminded what shoulders we stand on from the long lasting influence of Nina Simone, or the lesser known but hitmaking group The 5th Dimension. A compilation to be seen as much as it is heard, check out the full film Summer of Soul to get the essence of this cultural moment.
The SLAM! Years (1983 – 1988)
Hamid El Shaeri
Habibi Funk — 25/02/2022
Habibi Funk went digging into Hamid El Shaeri’s early albums, before he achieved the superstar status he enjoys today. According to the label, the synthetic gem “Ayonha” instantly entered their list of iconic tracks upon first listen, and found itself compiled on their first Arabic music collection released in 2017. Five years later, Habibi Funk followed through with the idea by meeting the artist in Cairo, a humble man who immediately embraced the idea of re-releasing some of his early, then underrated, work. This nugget is therefore representative of the groove of Hamid El Shaeri of the years 1983-1988, period during which the prince of synthesizers recorded five albums for the label SLAM!
The Sounds of S.E. Rogie & Further Sounds of S.E. Rogie
Mississippi Records – 04/02/2022 & 04/03/2022
These two collections, released within a month of each other, compile the best songs of S.E. Rogie, a Sierra Leonean who went from being a tailor to one of the most popular artists in West Africa in the 1960s. This singer with a flamboyant career excelled in the Palm-wine style, a genre that was the precursor of highlife, also called maringa, born in the 1920s. Known for his sweet and timeless melodies, S.E. Rogie sings here in several local languages, solo or with his band The Morningstars, with whom he toured the world before dying on stage in Russia in 1994.
Trotamundos del Sabor
Palenque Records – 23/10/2022
Legendary group founded in Cartagena in the early 80’s, Son Palenque has always been a target of choice for diggers with Palenque Records in the lead. This year, Luca Silva’s label proposed a new digital reissue with this 1987 album, to the delight of Afro-Colombian music lovers. The group that takes its name from San Basilio de Palenque, a village intimately linked to the Afro-Colombian history where its members come from, has forged a unique sound; the meeting of the ancestral palenquera and African or Brazilian rhythms with the Colombian Caribbean coast as a point of intersection, the whole boosted by the power of the sound-systems culture
When Do We Get Paid
Staples Jr. Singers – 06/05/2022
The Staples Jr. Singers were part of a vanguard of soul gospel artists in the 1970s that broke from tradition to testify with the groove. When they wrote these songs — all of them stone cold soul — they had one question on their minds: When Do We Get Paid? “We were so strange and we were so young,” said Edward Brown, a singer in the Staples Jr. Singers and one-third of the family outfit including his sister Annie and brother A.R.C, “and a lot of people didn’t understand that.” The Browns got their big break in 1975, when a traveling gospel singer Joe Orr introduced them to a man who ran a now long gone recording studio in Tupelo—like a figure from a parable, he only went by the name of Big John. They were just teenagers at the time, and they drew inspiration straight from their lives. Forty years, three generations, and countless performances later, the original members of the Staples Jr. Singers are still on the circuit, performing almost every weekend with their families. Although they don’t go by the Staples Jr. Singers anymore – they changed their name to the Brown Singers in the late 70s.
World Spirituality Classics 3 : The Muslim Highlife of Alhaji Waziri Oshomah
Alhaji Waziri Oshomah
Luaka Bop – 23/09/2022
Alhaji Waziri Oshomah is a man of faith and a pillar of the Auchi community where he lives, and the third volume in Luaka Bop’s World Spirituality Classics series (after The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda and the gospel compilation The Time For Peace Is Now), compiles seven of his tracks fusing prayer with dance, local folk styles, highlife and western pop. Sung in English, Etsako and other local dialects, the tracks were recorded over a ten-year period, starting in the mid-1970s just after Waziri’s Mecca pilgrimage. The voice of his wife and musical collaborator Hassanah can also be heard on the song “My Luck”.