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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Wow ! ! !17 Nov. 2001
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Franco and the OK Jazz are an institution in Central African popular dance music. Between the 1960s and 1990s they had hit after hit (reportedly they recorded over 100 albums!). They performed in concerts and clubs all over the world. I was fortunate to see them in 1990, in the Vis-a-Vis club in the Matonge nightclub district in Kinshasa (in Zaire/Congo, home to the OK Jazz); to keep it short: that night is one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life (though by that time lead singer Franco had died and the band broke up a few years later). Many OK Jazz (sometimes called the TPOK Jazz) albums are available on CD, and every "world music" enthusiast should have at least a half dozen. What makes this CD special is its early vintage. These tracks were recorded in the late 1950s and are an extremely interesting foreshadowing of what was to come. It's fascinating to hear African pop music develop before your ears, as the OK Jazz mix African and Latin American rythms and styles. (All the more interesting because Latin American music is itself partly derived from African sources. Latin American records, brough by Europeans and Americans, were very popular in Africa in the middle decades of the 20th century.) I was amazed to find that this music is available on CD. These are important recordings, documenting a seminal period in the development of modern African popular music. If you want to learn the story of modern African popular music, this is a great place to start. (One other CD of Congolese popular music of this era is "Ngoma: the early years, 1948-1960", which features recordings of various musicians made for the Ngoma record company of "Leopoldville, Belgian Congo".)
This is a fantastic collection of the earliest recorded songs of Franco, "grand master" of Congolese music, "sorcerer of the guitar," and bandmaster of the esteemed group "OK jazz". Congo is famed throughout Africa for its music, and Franco is regarded as the greatest and most prolific musician Congo has ever produced. Over a decade and a half after his death he is still widely popular and influential on current music throughout Africa. Franco would become the king of soukous, Congo's popular dance music, and in this album you hear the early roots of soukous, then called "Congolese Rumba" and clearly influenced by Latin music. It's infectiously happy music that would animate the country and then the continent, and as the cover of this album states, "this is where it all started."
The music is without question five star music, and a wonderful addition to any soukous, Congolese music or world music collection showing the origins of Africa's modern dance music. However, this re-issue is very disappointing in its presentation. There are no liner notes outside a brief paragraph on the back cover and a single picture on the front inside cover. The inside has in bold purple letters << See inside booklet for biographical notes >> but there is no booklet. In fact, the front cover is a single folded sheet that is blank inside. It looks like the ubiquitous pirated copies available throughout central Africa for 1000 francs cfa (about $2) each. I expected a lot more from the first reissue available in the US of this most influential musician and group. You may as well save half the price and download the tracks, because there is no additional information about the music or musicians here.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
You enter OK. You leave KO (Knocked Out)6 May 2001
Lynn D. Larrow
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This album covers some of the original recordings of Franco and OK Jazz 1956-57. The selections have been re-mastered from the old 78 records and really sound good considering (no crackles or hums). For anyone interested in the history of African Rumba music or the modern Congolese Soukous, this is a must have CD. Franco's guitar playing on this album hints at what will become the standard sound for the African Rumba and Soukous. On Entre OK, On sort KO, (You enter OK and leave Knocked Out) is the groups signature song. I especially like the songs Merenque and Ah Bolingo Pasi. These cuts are all very upbeat and make a great backdrop for just about any kind of activity. Nice music to cook by :). I wish more of Franco's CDs would be re-released in the USA. I'm having a hard time finding any at all. :/