Sometimes, not all too often, I can’t help to feel overwhelmed and, to be honest, a little helpless. When I feel this way, the pressure of being always up-to-date, I have to kick myself to go on with Pie in the sky. They are so many people caring and knowing about music all over the world what should I have to add? Take Duncan Broker for instance. Since today, I’ve never heard of him but I should have or even had to (says who?).
When I was in my mid twenties, I started a fanzine with a few friends of mine, it was called Subraum. We did only three issues, as a joke we started with #5 and continued with #7 and #9. For Subraum #7 we did an interview with Markus Popp, known for his experimental music project Oval. Only a few years later, I had the feeling I finally understood what he meant by stating “everything has been done before, art moves not in one direction only, it’s a circle.” He probably said it differently but that’s what I remember. So now, I’m feeling insecure if I should post a month “old” mix by a guy named Duncan Broker with music from the Seventies. Well, I should, because it’s great music, even if times are fast-moving and news are old pretty fast.
The mixtape East African 45s Mix Brooker put together was published on the Soundcloud profile of the British label Strut Records. The label from London published a lot of great music from all over the world over the years, go check their Bandcamp page for the whole discography. I can’t praise them enough. They just released their latest record Ave Africa: The Complete Recordings 1973-1976 by the Tanzanian band Sunburst and on this occasion they posted Brooker’s entertaining mix of rare East African 45s.
Brooker traveled through Africa when he was around 19 searching for vinyl from Sixties and Seventies. In a great article on the Guardian website he talks about his time there and tells the story of finding a record store in Nairobi with a mysterious room full of old vinyl: “I guess there are around 18,000 records there and I spent weeks rooting around in the dark, taking records out into the sun to read their battered sleeves and labels, checking and listening to every record of interest. The dust got to me in the end and I became ill. Abdul offered to buy me a face-mask.”
Please buy Ave Africa: The Complete Recordings 1973-1976 by Sunburst!
“Strut is extremely proud to present a definitive collection of recordings from one of Tanzania’s most revered but short-lived bands of the 1970s, Sunburst. Covering their entire output from 1973 to 1976, this first retrospective features music from their 45 RPM singles “Moto Moto” and “TFC,” as well as their sole album, Ave Africa, and an unreleased radio session recorded in Tanzania in 1973.
Sunburst was formed in 1970 by Zairean guitarist Hembi Flory Kongo who recruited resident drummer Johnny “Rocks” Fernandes, bass player Bashir Idi Farhan and organist / vocalist Kassim Magati. They were soon joined by Zambian-born lead singer James Mpungo.
Having developing their sound via covers-heavy live performances and a string of early singles, Sunburst’s sole LP came out at a time when Zambia was enjoying a stream of releases by bands that would now be considered icons of Zamrock such as Witch, Ngozi Family, Musi-O-Tunya and The Blackfoot. The sleeve text described the Sunburst sound as “a fusion of the traditional sounds of Africa with Western Rock, spiced with a piece of the Caribbean” but the intricacies of the Kitoto Sound that Sunburst had crafted for years peaked on this recording. Band members born in six different countries were tapping into a multitude of influences, styles, languages and stories. “We try to compose songs that have a bearing to the situation we live in,” James Mpungo recounted at the time. “Our songs are songs that support freedom struggles, songs that encourage peasants and workers to work harder, songs in praise of our leaders. We also sing a lot of songs criticizing our people for allowing themselves to be too westernized and throwing away their traditional values. And above all, we preach love and happiness!”
Buy it at discogs