André-Marie Tala is one of the father figures of African music. Born in the western Provence of Bandjoun, Cameroon, his early years were plagued with tragedy. He lost his mother at 4, his father at 12 and then when on to lose his sight 15. Thankfully, the love of music stayed with him throughout his career and with the help of Manu Dibango he made his first recordings in 1972 and had two hits in Cameroon with Sikati and Potaksima.
He created a group, the Rock Boys, later the Black Tigers, with Sam Fan Thomas as guitarist. At this time, Africa was immersed in music from overseas and many American acts toured all over Africa. Whilst touring Cameroon, Tala handed James Brown a demo of his song Hot Koki. Seemingly, the Godfather liked it a lot, he actually re-recorded it and released it as his own song, entitled ‘Hustle’. In doing so, he took all credit for composing, which meant Tala had to sue Brown and luckily he won the case!
We had so many great LP’s to choose from Tala but we decided to start with ‘Arabica’ where we find Tala in experimental mode. We hit the ground running with the lead track ‘Arabica’, disco drums, phased guitar licks and sweet soulful backing vocals, what’s not to like?
‘Black Gold’ takes the same path as laid out on ‘Arabica’ but we see the introduction of the Moog Synthesizer and the funky Rhodes Piano. ‘Sugar Lump’ is once again up-tempo and has bassline to get your body moving in the right direction. ‘I know what you want’ has a more traditional song approach Tala simply asks his love interest ‘not to let him down’.
‘Soweto’ is a Balearic DJ classic! Beautiful layers of guitar and flute ease you through this one. Soweto was a troubled place and high on the thoughts on African people around this time, this song reflects that. We end with ’20 ans‘ a more tradition song with some Hammond organ and super sweet guitar playing from Tala once again. This record demands a high fee for obvious reasons so don’t miss your chance to own this official reissue which has been made with love. Only 500 copies for worldwide release.