There are strange coincidences in life sometimes. Yesterday I discovered another great release by the incredible German label Analog Africa. They released the compilation Verckys Et L’Orchestre Vévé - Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969-1978 already in 2014 but covering the whole world on Pie In The Sky, it happens that I’m missing great music when they are released (or in that case re-released). I’m trying hard not to be superficial but it happens that I’m floating from one continent to another – like a butterfly.
Today I came to know that Muhammad Ali passed away and I’m honestly sad about this. I’m not a big fan of boxing, I’m too peaceful and I’m more into helping than fighting each other and I feel the world needs more cooperation not competition. On the other hand Ali fought for a good cause, equal rights for African-American people, and the violence was concentrated in the ring and not outside. Plus, you must be a cold-hearted person not be intrigued by his elegance, wit and humor.
His probably most known fight was against George Foreman in 1974 and is documented in the great film When we were kings, watch it here in full if you don’t know it. The big spectacle in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) featured also an amazing lineup of contemporary black music, James Brown, B.B. King and Bill Withers, just to name a few.
There’s even a documentation that only covers the music festival happening before the “Rumble In The Jungle” between Foreman and Ali. It’s called Soul Power from 2008 that you can watch in full on Youtube, too. Also included in the lineup and completely unknown to me before, was Congo’s most dominant and influential band OK Jazz. One of OK Jazz’s members until 1968 was Georges Mateta Kiamuangana aka Verckys. In 1968 he decided to leave the band and follow his own creative ideas and missed to play at this historic event. The mentioned compilation now features the period after Verckys left OK Jazz and formed his own band Orchestre Vévé.
James Brown supposedly attended one of his concerts and called him “Mister Dymamite” as The Guardian states. It’s unnerving, sexy and incredibly funky music, “blending the ever influential prowess of James Brown with Congolese Merengue, Rumba and Soukous” as the liner notes on Analog Africa put it. Buy it here, preferably the lovely designed double vinyl. Rest in peace, Muhammad Ali.
Buy it at discogs