Weekly Distro Roundup with Jon Treneff!


Happy President’s Day week! A week that conjures names like Jefferson. Kennedy. Washington. Taft. But what about the most exalted president of them all – the Black President, Fela Kuti! In honor of the high chief of hip-shaking, we’ve got a barge of killer new reissues from the African continent in the distro vaults this week. Step into the light!


Tony Allen – N.E.P.A. / Super Djata De Bamako – Vol. 1 & 2
(Kindred Spirits)

Remember the ’80′s?! Me neither. But from what I’ve heard on “classic rock radio”, there was a big technology breakthrough that made everything sound bigger and better than it was! That never happened in Africa. Which is why we can look you dead in the camera eye of your computer-phone and say that these ’80′s jams from are just as vital and no-frills as anything in the decade preceding them. Sure, the Tone-ster may throw a few phantom bleeps and bumps into the mix – but that don’t mean he forgot how to groove! Digi-Afro-beat – AWWNAWUDIDNNN!!!

And just in case this whole digital afro thing is freaking you out, we’ve got some fresh spins for the more ceremonious of listeners out there. These two Super Djata platters are pure-spirited steppers! One of the more unsung Malian guitar orchestras of the day, these self-titled records from the early ’80s show the jubilant nature of orchestras like Kanaga De Mopti and Super Biton De Segou marching undiminished into a new decade.


Heavenly Ethiopiques / Ethiopian Modern Instrumental Hits
(Heavenly Sweetness)

Everlasting big-ups to Heavenly Sweetness for bringing the Ethiopiques vinyl back in print! When this series first started trickling out on CD over a decade ago, it was something of a revelation. Ethiopian jazz had rarely, if ever been widely available in the States, and it caught like wildfire. If you’ve seen the movie Broken Flowers, that’s Ethio-Jazz’ main man, Mulatu Astatke’s grooves playing in the car during Bill Murray’s sad-guy drives. These two collections (first time for Heavenly on wax, as far as I know) are model emissaries for Ethio-Jazz’ totally unique and timeless appeal. So necessary!


Blue Phantom – Distortions

We’re still making it through the deep haul of Italian titles that washed ashore with our Goblin shipment a few weeks back – and guess what? There’s a WHOLE LOT of proggin’ goin’ on! But man cannot live on orchestral-prog and soundtracks alone (believe me, I’ve tried). The Blue Phantom record stands out as a complete anomaly in this company. All-instrumental, and way rawer than most of the Italian rock of this era, Distortions goes over like the Stooges or Hawkwind if they were more cinematically minded. Huge, huge record – and a welcome surprise!