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Africa - 50 Years of Independence 1960-2010 (18CD + Book) Box set

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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 Aug. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 18
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sterns Africa
  • ASIN: B003L23YDO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,796 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By migo1759 on 28 Aug. 2010
Format: Audio CD
If you love World/African music you MUST buy this . Celebrating 50 years of African independence and history, this set is dedicated to the regional music of this wonderful continent. 18 CDs grouped 'geographically': West,Southern, East, Central & North plus 2 selections of Lusophone Africa (inc Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique and others).
This is an exceptional collection that includes all the greats, plus some less well known artists (at least to me).
Comes with a fabulous 60 page booklet (1/2 English 1/2 French)covering the areas and their music and including brilliant illustrations.
The packaging is great too, featuring a stunning Baobab tree.
An essential collection.
(Note: I bought mine from Sterns Music - currently much cheaper).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. J. Doosje on 29 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Africa is BIG. So even an 18 CD compilation can only present a limited amount of music. However, given this limitation, this is an excellent musical exploration of this rich continent. No, it's not particularly cheap. But it has SO much great music by both famous artists and some lesser known big great artists. Some of my favorites include (among others) from
(1) West Africa (3 cd's): Baaba Maal, Orchestra Baobab, Youssou N'Dour and Ali Farka Toure
(2) East Africa (3 cd's): Mahmoud Ahmed (his fabulous greatest hit "Ere Mela Mela"), Mlimani Park Orchestra, Aster Aweke ("Africa's Aretha Franklin") and the great Alemayehu Eshete ("Africa's James Brown").
(3) North Africa (3 cd's): Oum Kalsoum, Mohamed Abdelwahab, Cheb Khaled, and Natja Aatabou
(4) South Africa (3 cd's): Miriam Makeba, Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens, Thomas Mapfuno and Hugh Masekela
(5) Central Africa (3 cd's): Manu Dibango, Franco and Staff Benda Bilili
(6) Lusophone Africa (3 cd's): Bonga, Mendes Mendes and Cesaria Evora.
The book is half English and half French, so it can not provide much information. However, the photos in the book are excellent (lots of reproductions of original art work of singles or albums). All in all, this is a great package! My only reservation is the book and the fact that while most CD's are filled till the maximum (75+ minutes), this is not the case for all CD's. But that shouldn't spoil the pure joy that one can experience listening to this great music from this rich continent. You can start your musical journey right here!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Graeme Alderson on 27 Sept. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I was slightly disappointed when I opened this. I expected an 18cd set to be a lot more impressive but instead you get a very bijou cardboard box containing a booklet and the discs in fairly generic card sleeves. The booklet is bilingual with the text in English from one end and French from the other which effectively halves the content. The essays are very short précis of the history of the various countries and a bit about some of the artists. For the price I would have expected more. A lot more.

But...then there's the music. It's impossible to do it justice here and, to be honest, there's a lot that I haven't heard once, let alone been able to properly digest. What it is is a springboard to spending even more money fleshing out your collection of all the amazing artists you will discover here.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. I. Longstaff on 3 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Lifelong Love Starts Here 12 Mar. 2011
By Craig Riecke - Published on
Format: Audio CD
18 CD's is an overwhelming amount of music, and it's hard to describe it's combined effect. Imagine getting a box set of AFI's 100 Most Important Films - that's the scope of emotion and style in Africa: 50 Years of Music.

Without getting too historical, the general story is African rhythms emigrated to the West in the 1800's, bred numerous strains of music - jazz, blues, latin, rock, electronic, etc. That influence was reintegrated back into African countries in the 60's and 70's as they regained independence. They cherry picked a lot of the sounds they liked, James Brown being a prime example. That makes a lot of the music you find here very accessible, and more than a little familiar. But it's not like listening to Western music with non-English lyrics either. In Africa, Rhythm is Melody and that theme carries through all the different types of music, different as they are.

And WOW - the variety is astounding! The highlife of E.T. Mensah is like Duke Ellington chanelled through heatwaves. Blond Blond's Algerian a capella yodelling breaks out into wicked dance. Malouma starts off in Middle Eastern trance and ends with electronic snarling a la Beck. Congolese artists Konomo Number 1 hook cut up tin cans to an electric pickup and create Outkast-like tunes. Cesaria Evora will lull you to a peaceful, lounge-y complancy (she takes a drink of a beer in the video for this song). In short, if you thought you knew African Music, this set will make you think again!

What exactly can Dofana, s song by Mali desert wanderer Ali Farke Toure channelling John lee Hooker say to you? That's a fair question. Quite a lot actually. Without knowing the words, you detect this small, grinding sense of moving into a faceful of dust and sand. You feel the grit in your teeth. There's something universal about that in the human condition, and you will feel something familiar in it.

Or maybe you won't. Not every song here brought me to my knees, but I was shocked at how many did. In fact, the entire Lusophone 1 disc made me fall so hard for Cape Verdean music (a cool cross between West African and Bossa Nova), I booked a flight to their Baia Das Gatas festival. I haven't taken a vacation abroad in 20 years. THAT's how powerful this stuff can be. And I can't profess to know which discs or songs will work for you. Mapping them out would be like a fingerprint - unique to you.

Like the other reviewers here, I thought the liner notes were pretty substandard. The photos were cool, but the text doesn't mention songs at all, and is often about performers not even on the set. That's OK. The Internet makes it easy to do any research you need.

From a practical standpoint: the price is right, the selection is fantastic, and the scope is unparalleled. If the same ol' Western music is boring you these days, you'll find Africa: 50 Years of Music a surprisingly good investment, and (as I did) the start of a lifelong passion.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Stunning 23 Oct. 2010
By Nick Voyvodich - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Think of Ken Burns quality in compiling this massive box set. From the sound quality, notations and packaging this is the definitive box set to understand the broad and wonderful styles of African music. With 16 hours of music I can't imagine the time it took to compile this package. There is something great in each song. The diversity of music styles and heartfelt music makes this collection a rare musical treat for those who appreciate great music whatever it may be.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The vast spectrum of African popular music -- a full set list 15 Sept. 2012
By Thomas E. Davis - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This big, ambitious box set deserves the praise it's received from fellow Amazon reviewers and professional music writers. If you're already a fan of African pop, you need it. If you're still a novice but love what you've heard and want to dive in, you can't do better than this brilliantly selected and lovingly annotated collection.

There are 185 tracks by 183 artists on 18 CDs, three from each of six regions: North, South, East, West, Central, and Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa. The continent's size, long history, and multitude of ethnic groups mean that the set can't possibly include every worthy band, composer, singer, or instrumentalist, but it does include a generous and arguably representative sampling of important music from all over, as well as a beautifully illustrated 76-page booklet. The studio performances, together with a few live tunes, were recorded over the past 50-plus years, during and after decolonization. (The vast majority of African nations achieved independence from Europe between 1951 and 1980).

I know West and Southern African music best, and many, many of my favorites are here. From the west: E.T. Mensah, Fela Kuti, Prince Nico Mbarga, Orchestra Baobab, Salif Keita, Toure Kunda, Alpha Blondy, Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Amadou & Mariam, Femi Kuti, Angelique Kidjo, and more. From the south: Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Oliver Mtukudzi, Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens, Lucky Dube, Thomas Mapfumo, Hugh Masekela, and others.

The superb taste and comprehensive scope that the anthology's producers demonstrate in these selections assure me that their choices from East, Central, North, and Lusophone Africa are just as authoritative and will take me far beyond the few I know well: Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, Tabu Ley, Manu Dibango, Pepe Kalle, Papa Wemba, Oum Kalsom, Cheb Mami, Najat Aatabou, Cheb Hasni, and the wonderful Cesaria Evora.

Nothing is perfect, of course, so one can find occasional errors in the liner notes as well as a few odd omissions (where are Nigerian juju kings Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey?), but these relatively minor quibbles are overwhelmed by the high quality, amazing diversity, and profound vitality of the music.

A complete listing of artists and songs follows:

West Africa, Disc 1: E.T. Mensah - Ghana Freedom / Super Eagles - Gambia Su Nous Raew / Bembeya Jazz - Armee Guineene / Geraldo Pino - Heavy Heavy Heavy / Sory Kandia Kouyate - Souaressi / Osibisa - Music For Gong Gong / Fela Kuti - Shakara / Oscar Sulley - Bukom Mashie / Prince Nico Mbarga - Sweet Mother / K. Frimpong - Hwelwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena / Orchestra Baobab - Jin Ma Jin Ma

West Africa, Disc 2: Salif Keita - Mandjou / Gnonnas Pedro - La Musica En Verite / Amadou Balake - Taximen / Toure Kunda - Emma / Alpha Blondy - Brigadier Sabari / Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Zero Plus Zero / Youssou N'Dour - Immigres / Ismael Lo - Tadieu Bone / Mory Kante - Yeke Yeke / Baaba Maal - Yirin Yalo / Oumou Sangare - Ah Ndiya / Ali Farka Toure - Dofana

West Africa, Disc 3: Saadou Bori - Baritone / Africando - Yay Boy / Tiken Jah Fakoly - Mangercratie / Amadou & Mariam - Baara / Les Salopards - Generation Sacrificee / Magic System - Ier Gaou / Rokia Traore - M'Bifo / Ba Cissoko - Taouyah / Djelmady Tounkara - Fanta Bourana / Malouma - Nebine / Femi Kuti - Inside Religion / Victor Deme - Djon Maya / Bako Dagnon - Le Guide De la Revolution / Mamadou Barry - Niyo / Angelique Kidjo - Afia

Southern Africa, Disc 1: Letta Mbulu - Welele / Myriam Makeba - Pata Pata / Abdullah Ibrahim - Liberation Dance / Dr. Daniel Kachamba - Mulunga Adzatembenuza / Jivacourt Kathumba - Abale Wanga / Bhundu Boys - Hatisi Tose / Four Brothers - Makorokoto / Oliver Mtukudzi - Ziwere

Southern Africa, Disc 2: Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens - Kazet / Lucky Dube - Slave / Soul Brothers - Abantu / Chiwoniso - Mai / Sipho Mabuse - Jive Soweto / Saleta Phiri & AB Sounds - Imfa Ya Amuna Wanga / Suzanna Lubrano - Tudo Pa Po / Stella Chiweche - Paite Rima

Southern Africa, Disc 3: Jacob Joby - Indosiko Anao / Hip Hop Pantsula - O Mang? / Rajery - Safora / Thomas Mapfumo - Shumba / Regis Gizavo - Eka Lahy / Hugh Masekela - Mulungelo / Fatso - Bread & Roses / Tumi & The Volume - Limpopo / The Very Best - The Warm Heart Of Africa

East Africa, Disc 1: Fundi Konde - Gari La Punda / Alemayehu Eshete - Feqer Feqer new / Matano Juma - Dada / Testa-Maryama Kidane - Heywete / Mulatu Astatqe - Yegelle Tezeta / Hirut Beqele - Almokerkum Neber / Ayalew Mesfin - Hasabe / Tilahouna Gessesse - Aykedashem Lebe / Mahmoud Ahmed - Ere Mela Mela / Muluqen Melesse - Ete Endenesh Gedawo / Slim Ali & The Hodi Boys - Sweet Mother

East Africa, Disc 2: Bezunesh Beqele - Astraqegn / D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz - Kiseru Parts 1 & 2 / Mlimani Park Orchestra - Kassim Amefilisika / Super Mazembe - Samba / Orchestra Makassy - Mambo Bado / Nuta Jazz Band - Nipeleke Kwa Baba / Djemil Jimmy Mahmed - Yeheywete Heywet / Geoffrey Oryema - Ye Ye Ye / Abdel Gadir Salim - Sudani / Aster Aweke - Kabu

East Africa, Disc 3: Abou Chihabi - Viva Komoro / Bi Kidude - Bomwanzani Wa Mahaba / Western Jazz - Rosa / Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club - Waache Waseme / Zainaba - Yowa Mo Ina / Menwar - Sizaan / Nawal - Narizombe / Culture Musical Club De Zanzibar - Ne Yeye / Maalesh - Ngoma

Central Africa, Disc 1: Grand Kalle - Independance Cha Cha / Grand Kalle - Table Ronde / Hilarion Nguema - Espoir / Tabu Ley - Mokloko Nakokufa / Docteur Nico - Tu M'As Decu Chouchou / Bantous De La Capitale - Makmobo Mibale / Franklin Boukaka feat. Manu Dibango - Le Bucheron / Zaiko Langa Langa - Fievre Mondo / Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa / Andre Marie Tala - Hot Koki / Francis Bebey - La Condition Masculine / Pierre Akendengue - Africa Obata

Central Africa, Disc 2: Bebe Manga - Ami O / M'bilia Bel - Eswi Yo Wapi / Moni Bile - Osi Tapa Lambo / Zao - Ancien Combatant / Maitre Gazonga - Jabuloux Saboteurs / San Fan Thomas - African Typic Collection / Franco - Mario / Oliver N'Goma - Bane / Pepe Kalle - Moyibi

Central Africa, Disc 3: Sam Mangwana - Transberos / Kanda Bongo Man - Sai / Papa Wemba - Maman / Koffi Olomide - Loi / Konono No. 1 - Ba Kristo / Fally Ipupa - Liputa / Kasai Allstars - Analengo / Mounira Mitchala - Annil / Staff Benda Bilili - Moziki

North Africa, Disc 1: Slimane Azen - Algerie Mon Beau Pays / Dahmane El Harrachi - Kifeche Rah / Oum Kalsoum - Ghanili Chweyi / Raoul Journo - Ya Mahfel Houche Khdija / Cheikha Remitti - Touche Mami Touche / Blond Blond - Wahran El Bahia / Farid El Atrache - Yigui Youm / M'hamed El Anka - Ya Rabi / Mohamed Abdelwahab - Hirtou / Ahmed Hamza - Jari Ya Hamouda / Noura - Y Bnet El Houma / Salim Halili - Sidi H'Bibi

North Africa, Disc 2: Abdelaziz Stati - Hakmet Aliha Corouf / Cherifa - Azwaw / Mohamed Bajdoub - Chems El Aachia / Abdel Halim Hafez - Al Rissal / Lounis Ait Menguellet - Rouh Adhqimogh / Reinette L'Oranaise - Aadrouni Ya Sadate / Nass El Ghiwane - Mahouma / Hedi Habouba - Tih El Teli / Mohamed Mounir - El Leila Ya Smara / Soulef - Rah El Ghali

North Africa, Disc 3: Hakim - Shoufou / Cheb Mami - Ana Mazel / Takfarinas - Tebbeg Rir / Raina Rai - Hagda / Najat Aatabou - J'En Ai Marre / City 16 - La Tchitchi / Cheb Hasni - Balou Hasni Met / Ouled Khaled - La Camel / Orchestre Faycal - Ana Melit / C. Fadela & C. Saharqoui - N'Sel Fik

Lusophone Africa, Disc 1: Luis Morais - Boas Festas / Jose Carlos Schwarz - Estin / Super Mama Djombo - Dissan Na M'Bera / Super Mama Djombo - Pamparida / Bulimundo - Bulimundo / Ze Manel - Nha Guine / Mendes Mendes - Grito De Bo Fidje / Africa Negra - Aninha

Lusophone Africa, Disc 2: Paulo Flores - O Povo / Cesaria Evora - Saldade / Bana - Tchan De Pedra / Os Tubaroes - Mae Querida / Tito Paris - Preto E Mi / Bonga - Mulemba Xangola / Os Kiezos - Saudades De Luanda / Artur Nunes - Ksua Ki Ngui Fua / Tony De Fumo - N'Ginda / Tony Von - N'Hoca

Lusophone Africa, Disc 3: Tanga - Eme N'Gongo Lami / Urbano De Castro - N'Vula / Luiz Visconde - Chofer De Praca / Kapa Dech - Tsuketani / Tabank Djaz - Todos Os Sentidos / Manecas Costa - Pariso Di Gumbe / Voz De Cabo Verde - Criulinha / Rui Sangara - Disgaciado
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Motherlode? More like five motherlodes 30 Mar. 2011
By Stephen Foster - Published on
Format: Audio CD
(Five stars have recently themselves become overrated: it is only the very rarest things that rate 5 stars from me these days.)

[Update: Four months later, and I still haven't listened to more than 4-5 of these discs. That's because I quickly became entranced by the "Congotronics" currently coming out of Kinshasa (I think I now own every album in the genre, even this tribute album from American artists), simultaneously got addicted to recent South African hip-hop, and serendipitously discovered and fell in love with the Touareg band Tinariwen just hours before they played locally. But sometime soon, or maybe even a year from now, I'll put on another album from this set, and go flying off in yet another direction.]

There's an entire lifetime of discovery in these 18 discs. Imagine (the effrontery of) an 18-CD collection titled "50 Years of European Music", and you're not that far off.
I've been a real fan of African music for 30+ years, but I basically landed in Zimbabwe and hardly moved out of that neighbourhood. Yet right now I'm listening to the utter (noisy) joy of some Central African outfit called Konono No. 1, playing some discordant minimalist thing called "Paradiso" on ... I'm not at all sure what they're playing it on, except to say that it's all pure percussion, and do they EVER know what they're doing. Philip Glass in his opium dreams hears exactly this, but he could never write it, or get the players who can play it. I think I'll put it on again...

[Next-day update: Can I spot 'em, or wha? Konono No. 1 recently won a Grammy for a collaboration with Herbie Hancock, Bjork, et al. Turns out they are doing exactly what it sounds like: banging on old car parts using homemade amplifiers and microphones (utilizing magnets from auto alternators) carved out of wood. Glorious, utterly-joyful music. Right on the same CD are also the certifiably-insane Kasai Allstars, also out of Kinshasa, perhaps not by coincidence. These two tracks are exactly why I bought this album; they open up entire new worlds to me.]

VERY few people would like my brand-new favourite track: it's a noisy, discordant mess. And that's exactly the point: this is an entire continent of music, perhaps less varied than European music, but barely, and do they EVER emphasize rhythm. Something in here is going to jump out and land right in your lap, and you will be immediately richer. And then think: there's another 17 discs still to hear...

I didn't even pay the Amazon price: I did the Right Thing and paid $30 over it to support my local music store; I wish I did that more often, but I don't often feel that flush.

There's even trash in here, but not very much. I thought I'd found some when a clearly American singer started up, displaying the worst Melisma-excesses of Mariah Carey combined with the breathy submission of an Ashanti. But then the band behind her kicked in, an excellent mbira player fronting a white-hot rhythm section. I wondered how much money some vapid American bimbo had to pay to get to stand in front of THAT band. I researched, though all I knew was the name of the band: Chiwoniso.

Ahem: the vapid American bimbo is the one called Chiwoniso. Then a photo came up, showing that she is also the excellent mbira player, which was simply not believable: there is no tradition of women playing mbira, forget about American bimbos. But finally the surname floated into view: Maraire, and it all suddenly fit: she's a child of the mbira demi-god, Dumisani Maraire (ONE of the children: he was a rather renowned ... swordsman in the Seattle area, where he finally settled). So I am basically a complete prejudiced fool: now I have to listen to her properly. In the meantime: DAMN but can she play mbira. Get past the syrupy American ornamentations on this track, and there's joy in here.

(While writing, I have "Paradiso" on constant replay: I'm actually grinning at the constant, ridiculous noisy discordant pleasure of it as I write. I am going to buy everything this band ever did.)

I thought the next person to jump into my lap would be ... well ... somebody who did not go by the name of Hip Hip Pantsula. Surrealistic stuff. So what if he normally raps in a language spoken by less than 1% of Africans? They don't care: he's the continent's #1 hip-hop singer, and I don't care either: he's damn good.

Enough details. This is indeed a continent of music in a box. And please don't think that the authors are summarizing the cream of the continent: Of the artists I already knew, these are purely just samples. Definitely not the Best of the Best. Thomas Mapfumo is represented by one track; he has at least six albums with material equal or better to the sample given here. Same goes for the other fourteen-odd artists I'm already familiar with. This seems like a vast amount of money to pay for a CD collection, but it's not: Think of a complete lifetime of musical education, punctuated by frequent joy and occasional raw thrill. Snuggle in, get with the flow, and start exploring.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
a fine place to start 4 Jan. 2011
By Douglas J. Harwood - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The music in this set is simply stunning in its variety and musicianship.
If you don't know much about African music over the last 50 years, there's no better place to start. If you do know a little, most of the cuts have not appeared on any other available anthologies, and there are of treasures.
If there is anything to complain about, it is the lack of much information about all of the bands represented on the set. But really, with such wonderful music, who cares? It speaks and sings for itself.
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