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The Syliphone Years [Import]

Bembeya Jazz National Audio CD

Price: £19.42
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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. République Guinee 5:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Sabor De Guajira 4:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Armée Guineenne 3:57£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Dembaty Galant 3:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Air Guinée 3:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Guinée Hety Horémoun 4:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Montuno De La Sierra 3:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Waraba 6:26£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Dagna 4:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Doni Doni 4:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Camara Mousso 4:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Super Tentemba14:15Album Only
Listen13. Mami Wati 7:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Alalake 4:06£0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Beyla 6:51£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Fatoumata 3:51£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Moussogbe 7:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Sou 5:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. N'gamokorô10:06Album Only
Listen  6. Ballake 8:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Mussofing 5:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Dya Dya 7:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Sina Mousso 9:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. N'temenna 3:59£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Telephone 5:35£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Petit Sékou 5:59£0.99  Buy MP3 


Product Description

BBC Review

The music made in Guinea during the first two decades after independence from France in 1958 represents some of the most sublime and influential that any West African nation has ever produced. Backed by Sékou Touré's socialist government, groups from every region of the country were encouraged to modernise their ancient musical traditions and were given the financial assistance to do so. And of all the musical riches that this policy unearthed, those of Bembeya Jazz National were the finest.

If you weren't quite convinced by the band's 2002 comeback album Bembeya, and the recent Guitar Fö from their mighty guitarist Sékou Diabaté, this 2-CD compilation really shows what all the fuss was about. It's a thorough selection of their best work for the national Syliphone label, which began releasing local music in the mid 1960s. For those already familiar with compilations like Mémoire de Aboubacar Demba Camara -at least half of which is reproduced here -the first disc, which includes many early singles previously unavailable on CD, will be a revelation.

Highlights? Pretty much the whole damn thing, though it depends on your mood, such is the variety of styles they experimented with. All the ingredients that made their music so wonderful are there on their first single "République Guinée"; the trademark off-key brass section, grooving percussion, Sékou Diabaté's exquisite guitar and the distinctively savoury vocals of Demba Camara. Apart from updating the griot songs of their largely Maninka heritage, the band revelled in outside influences.

Titles like "Sabor de Guajira", "Montuno de la Sierra" and the rumba-flavoured gem "Dagna" illustrate the passion for Cuban music which they shared with many West African musicians of their generation. Likewise, "Mami Wata" is an affectionate nod to Ghanaian highlife, and "Sou" takes a short trip to Cape Verde. The compilation brings us as far as 1976, three years after the death of Demba Camara, by which time their sound was beginning to take on a soukous flavour.

Those who are fussy about sound quality should perhaps be warned that some of the recordings are copied from vinyl rather than the original master tapes, but also that this music is about ambience, not accuracy. The only major omission is anything from the epic Regard sur le Passé, probably because as Graeme Counsel's excellent sleevenotes explain it consists of a single song spread over two sides of vinyl, and is best heard in its entirety. Otherwise, its hard to fault this superlative and long overdue re-issue, which commemorates a truly golden era in African music. If the brooding, majestic grace of Ballake doesn't give you goosebumps, you should probably see a doctor soon. --Jon Lusk

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original World Music 13 Mar 2005
By otserick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Guinea's Bembeya Jazz is, by any calculation, one of the greatest African bands of all time. As far as I am concerned, in fact, they are one of the greatest popular music bands ANYWHERE in the twentieth century. They also are among the most influential, at least in Africa, since their popularity spread far beyond their Guinean borders. This collection documents their greatest period during the 1960s and 1970s when they enjoyed the lavish if capricious patronage of the Guinean state. Like the wonderful Congolese bands of the same period, they had it all -- amazing, really amazing, guitar playing; mesmerizing singers; a scorching (if not always in tune) brass section. Their sound is hypnotic, funky, swinging - Africa meets Cuba meets U.S. rock; world music before there was world music. While this set is of great historic interest, it also is a complete pleasure to hear. The music still sounds fresh and creative and the tinny recording quality evokes tropical nights, sea breezes, and perhaps one too many beers at an open-air bar. . .
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Syliphone Years, Bembeya Jazz Natl 14 Mar 2005
By jqr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is the perfect record to get your collection of Bembeya Jazz, and by extension, modern Mande swing music, started. These players listened to contemporary Cuban rumbas as well as Motown and funk, and drew from both, adding the rumba rhythms and funky orchestrations to a stew of subregional traditional music that featured long vocal lines, call-and-response techniques, and eloquent lyrics that drew from a long tradition of using music for moral instruction. But to describe Bembeya Jazz National in those dry terms hardly gets to the meat of the situation. This music swings like Count Basie in his prime, and takes all the tricks out of James Brown's bag and applies them to the rumba. It's a beautiful sound.

When you put the needle down on "N'gamokorô," for instance, you hear a beautiful horn-section introduction, then an eerie and intoxicating cowbell/bass drum rhythm takes over, underneath a spoken-word chant in Mandeng, then a leaping, bounding, rumba, where the main theme is stated. Demba Camara, the amazing vocalist, starts singing the verses, with the horns answering each line, and the guitarist dropping in obligatos everywhere. You can just imagine a crowd of sweaty, dapper Guineans bopping away at one of those open-air nightclubs in Conakry, the Paris of West Africa. As the guitar sets the rhythm with a hypnotic lick repeating over and over again, the trumpet, then tenor sax take tasty solos. That bleeds into the whole horn section playing in unison, then Demba Camara starts singing again in this amazing, hortatory call-and-response with the backup singers and the horn section, like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in Mandeng language. It keeps brewing, until a sudden disco-type break, then the djembe drum leaps in for a mind-blowing solo, with the vocalist shouting alongside and the trap drums keeping time with the brushes. At the climactic moment, the horns hop back in and restate the theme, with the guitar lick in the background. Of course, that's not enough! Demba Camara comes back in and starts singing again, while the guitar and drums settle down into a kind of sedate rumba. He takes a break while the guitar unleashes a soulful, keening single-note solo, while the rhythm guitar comps behind. It ends on a sudden shout, then silence, as the dancers wipe their brows and go get a lemonade.

A lot of the best tracks on this record, such as "Armee Guineenne," "N'Borin," and "Moussogbe" are also featured on Bembeya Jazz's "Hommage A Demba Camara" and the compilation "Syliphone 40eme Anniversaire," so if you have either one of those amazing records, you may have some duplication. This one is worth the additional purchase, however, because it comes with a discography and nice explanation of where the group came from and where it fit into the overall politico-cultural situation at the time.

For those of you just starting your collections, however, this 2-cd set includes enough booty-moving, earth-rattling music to get you hooked.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent compilation on this group, but not the best 15 July 2010
By Idiosyncrat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Bembeya Jazz National were the top of the classic Guinean orchestras, on a level of their own, who recorded some of the very best music I've ever heard. The material here certainly merits at least four stars.

The extra star is held back because there exists a Bembeya compilation that I think is better than this one: Hommage a Demba Camara is a compilation album released back in the mid-70's as an homage to the band's lead singer, who suffered an untimely death back in 1973. That album (as I remark in my review of it) concentrates more on the group's prime period (1968-1973), while "The Syliphone Years" aims to cover all of their history from the early 60's to the late 70's. The early and late material can be skipped, in my opinion.

Sadly, this is hard to find in CD format (I got lucky enough to find a CD copy in England), but the album is at least available in MP3 format here in Amazon.
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