Letters to Muzikifan

Thank you for a very nice selection (TOP FIFTEEN of 2015). I was able to stream everything on Spotify (and downloaded some tracks from EMusic) with the slight exception of Dieuf-Dieul de Thies which they had volume 1 rather than volume 2 available. I just finished listening to all 15 albums which took several days. I think I may have stumbled on a new Christmas tradition. It wasn’t my intention to play International music during the holidays, but what better way to celebrate peace on earth and good will to all? Turns out this is really good holiday music.

Great list!

Thank you,
Gene H
(Phoenix, AZ)


Love your monthly selection. The 3 December records could easily be the best records of the year. I just would add Djessou Mory Kanté & Les Ambassadeurs for the 5 finest of the year. Competing for a spot in the top 5, just missing the cut, but still better than Tinariwen or father & son kora recordings: Kasai Allstars, Dexter Johnson, Moreno, Congo Guitars & Joubran.
Maybe too harsh, Joubran deserves better - the best 2014 recording of new original work.
Please, keep improving my quality of life,
Jan V (Dublin)
>Hi Jan
>either we have identical taste or you dont read any other critics! I appreciate your letter, in fact i may
>just run it as my top ten and save me the work!
>Best wishes and Slainte!


Thanks, a real discovery...
Looking at my other favourite 2015 albums, this time not reviewed by you...

Mali: Kanou, by Mamami Keita
Senegal: Mousso Lou, by Mamy Kanouté - YouTube: http://youtu.be/SXqOA4bkTCE
Madagascar: Akory, by Razia
South Africa: The Song Is My Story, by Abdullah Ibrahim
Morocco: Makan, by Driss El Maloumi
Morocco: Al Qantara, by Majid Bekkas

And four records that are now part of my list of records never to be recommended to anybody...because they are that good.

Down Deep, by Ernst Reijseger
African Songbird, by Sathima Bea Benjamin
Birds Requiem, by Dhafer Youssef
Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, by Brian Eno / Jon Hassell

In total 20 records, my own 2014 soundtrack, catering for all my moods.
Jan (December 2014)


> I just like to thank you for your website. I'm a 21 year old student in Britain and in a week or so three friends and I are flying to Lagos to interview as many popular musicians of the 60s and 70s as we can find. Out of the interviews we hope to make a short film about Nigerian popular music of the past (we've managed to get grant money from various organisations here to fund it.)

We decided to do it primarily because we love the music, but there's always more to learn and your website has been an incredible help for me in learning more about Lagos music and musical politics of that period. We hopefully have interviews lined up with Fatai Rolling Dollar, Ebenezer Obey, O.J., Victor Olaiya, King Sunny Ade and maybe Victor Uwaifo. Hopefully... We'll see how it turns out. Anyway i just wanted to thank you and also ask if you had any advice/ things you think it might be interesting to consider while exploring this area and talking to these people.

Thank you very much

Felix (June 2012)


Re: Your review of THE KANKOBELA OF THE BATONGA, "No one would know what the song is about." I think you may find some words in The Lost Valley by Peggy Tracey,

All the best,

Chris R (28 Nov 11)

Hey Chris
it's a rhetorical question by one of the performers! I just got volume 2 which is lovely and plan to post my review in the next couple of days


Just wanted to thank you heaps for your excellent site.
It's a gold mine for the ears!
I have just started to look into it and am very impressed by the quality and clarity of all infos in there.


Afif, 22 ix 11

Thanks for the great work and attitude. It is a better place for I and my friends after we get your mails and play this fine music.


Jeremiah 4 vii 11



Many thanks to you for the latest Congo Classics page; a nicely nostalgic read. Right out of the gate the "En Direct Du Congo" cover photo grabbed me and plucked my 'longing-for-my-old-8-tracks' string. I found that tape, "Congo Bolingo", "Du Senegal au Congo", and "Hit Parade, Vol.1." in a buck-a-pop bin at Tower Records on Bay in the City. Something different to listen to on my trip home to Reno; yeah, sure. It was around 1982, I think. There were others in that bin, I remember their exotic covers, and I recognize several on the Pathe-Marconi pages of the bolingo.org website. Ah the human condition, making errors in judgement in life, passing up such opportunities. Give me another chance, another lifetime, another shot at that bin!

The music didn't happen right off, it just sort of grew on me, or I grew into hearing it. There was this guitar thing, a different sound, a catchy, but changing rhythm, and those vocals, their precision, and then that's all I wanted to hear.

A year or so later, I visited Berkeley to catch a guitar performance by then Buddy Bohn, now Moro, and next day checked with David McBurnie to help me find that kind of African music on my 8-tracks: I couldn't describe what it was, but remembered the name Franco. Didn't have my own car with the tapes on the trip, so all I had were wild hand gesticulations, a recalcitrant memory, (better to say calcified) to ineptly attempt to desribe something I knew nothing about. He led me to some scintillating NY Latin club recordings, some Caribbean hot stuff, but it was not what I truly sought. Some time later, after my four African 8-tracks had been respliced too many times to warrant being used except for special good times, I found T.P. OK Jazz, and Nico, and Negro Success, Kwala-Kwa, and then arranged to record those poor old clickety 8 tracks to cassette.

So now I listen to the CDs that were purchased in my search to run across just one piece that was on those Pathe-Marconi 8 tracks. I have found only a few, but more importantly, the search has led to a new treasure, perfectly described on your CC page. Your description of Franco's guitar technique was enlightening, thank you. So that will be my reason for listening anew. Keep up the great work.

Chuck B


Just a quick note of appreciation.

I look forward to getting your reviews at the begining of each month. Generally speaking your taste and opinions are simular to mine. (with the exception of those techno gypsy records). You help me decide how to spend and more importantly not spend my money. (Skipped Pearls of Africa: Guinea due to overlap-- thanks for the heads up).

I had the same issue with TPOP; I loved the PAM album, but the online sample of the other CD seemed too generic. Is it? I am still tired of Afro-funk. I bought a lot of afro-funk vinyl in the mid/late 80s and enjoyed the early years of its revival, but enough already... Since I love TPOP's non-funk recording is the funky album worth the money?

I also have to agree with your comments on music sharing sites. While I will download what's available, I do worry that file sharing will kill the industry. Too many sites distribute full albums as a "public service." The posting recent collections drives me nuts. However it is one thing to post obscure and out of print music (like "Awesome Tapes from Africa") and another to post whole albums of recent releases (like Zero G). While the ATA guy may not know the music, I doubt that his postings will impact new CD releases; he is largely involved in salvage music sharing. Personally I think Benn Loxo is the best-- a time sensative files; enough to whet you appatite and not enough to just pirate.

Random request. You often discuss your Bollywood musical picks, who about a list of Bollywood films actually worth watching....

Keep up the good work.

Christopher S 9.4.07

Hey Chris
great to hear from you. And nice you appreciate my reviews. I try not too get caught up in the free music blogs, other than to occasionally notice they have lifted artwork or comments from my pages.

As for Bollywood films worth watching, my favorites are the old black and white ones by Guru Dutt & Bimal Roy. Try PYAASA: if you like that there's a lot more of the same. Anything with Johnny Walker (a comic). Dutt is a bit like Orson Welles, writes and directs and often stars in the films and has the same actors, so it's reliable. Most of the modern stuff is junk but i watch it occasionally to keep up with some actors like Shah Rukh Khan or Jackie Schroff. AWAARA and PAKEEZAH are two others i love.



always edifying
& wonderful reading!

David Meltzer


am awash


Blessings & deep thanks
David Meltzer