Honest Jon's Records

V/A - Living Is Hard: West African Music in Britain, 1927-1929 (2xLP)

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2018 repress. Honest Jon's Records has prepared a series drawing on some of the earliest recordings in the EMI Hayes Archive -- recovered from more than 150,000 78s -- staggering music from Iraq, Turkey, Caucasia, Lebanon, Iran (including sides made in Old Street, London, in 1909), Egypt, and the Belgian Congo. This series opener presents the music of the West African underground of 1920s Britain, recorded at Hayes and released on the Zonophone label (which exported nearly all the records to West Africa). You can hear Caribbean influences here, the promise of highlife there, but Living Is Hard mostly disavows fusion and assimilation. And by contrast with antecedents in the history of black music in Britain -- minstrelsy and spirituals, for example, ragtime and jazz -- these recordings are unhitched from the protocols of a white listenership. These are startling, trenchant, elemental roots -- carrying troubled news home, along with signs of the new African nationalism -- and an enthralling glimpse of other lives, another time. Artists include: Oni Johnson, Isaac Jackson, Ben Simmons, Harry E. Quashie, Douglas Papafio, Prince Zulamkah, The West African Instrumental Quintet, The Ga Quartet, Domingo Justus, James Tucker, John Mugat, Kumasi Trio, James Thomas, Nicholas De Heer, George Williams Aingo and James Brown. Deluxe gatefold sleeve with large insert including Mark Ainley's liner notes plus photos, etc.

Oni Johnson - Garse Yer Fido

Isaac Jackson - Nitsi Koko Ko Ko

Ben Simmons - [Blank]

Harry E. Quashie - Anadwofa

Ben Simmons - Mu Kun Sebor Wa Wu

Douglas Papafio - Kuntum

Prince Zulamkah - Ligiligi

The West African Instrumental Quintet - Adersu - No. 2

The Ga Quartet - Abowe Dsane Nmaka Tso

Domingo Justus - Buje

Ben Simmons - Obu Kofi

James Tucker - Rue Bai Rue Bai

John Mugat - Bukay

Kumasi Trio - Asin Asin Part 2

Douglas Papafio - Sakyi

James Thomas - Jon Jo Ko

Nicholas De Heer - Edna Buchaiku

George Williams Aingo - Akuko Nu Bonto

Nicholas De Heer - Ewuri Beka

George Williams Aingo - Mi Agur Bi

James Brown - Mukorin-Mantun

Nicholas De Heer - Wasiu Dowu

John Mugat - Alahira