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Congo Funk! - Sound Madness From The Shores Of The Mighty Congo River (Kinshasa​/​Brazzaville 1969​-​1982) (Analog Africa No. 38)

by Analog Africa

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blixa00 The obsessive searching (in all the best ways) and crate digging pay off once again for the Analog Africa crew! This compilation is a veritable gold mine of crazy good funky riffs with horns aplenty. As with most AA offerings, the music appears to originate from various sources and time periods but the underlying quality of all the tracks is undeniable. Drop the needle and get ready to be enthralled!! Favorite track: Ngantsie Soul.
Matthew Benson
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Matthew Benson At this point I'll buy anything from Analog Africa without even bothering to preview it because it's always good. The same with this album - but after listening to it I can report that it is good
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gdstaff Because african music is vital and spontaneous
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The making of Congo Funk!, our long-awaited journey to the musical heart of the African continent, took the Analog Africa Team on two journeys to Kinshasa and one to Brazzaville. Selected meticulously from around 2000 songs and boiled down to 14, this compilation aims to showcase the many facets of the funky, hypnotic and schizophrenic tunes emanating from the two Congolese capitals nestled on the banks of the Congo River.

On its south shore, the city of Kinshasa – capital of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country formerly known as Zaïre – is often seen as Africa’s musical Mecca, the city that spawned such immortal bands as African Jazz, O.K. Jazz and African Fiesta, and the place to which aspiring musicians from throughout the continent would go to make a name for themselves.

But the city of Brazzaville on the north shore of the river – capital of the Congo Republic – played an equally important role in spreading Congolese sounds continentally. In addition to producing legendary bands such as Les Bantous de la Capital, it was the powerful transmitters of Radio Brazzaville that allowed the unmistakable groove of Congolese Rumba to be heard as far away as Nairobi, Yaoundé, Luanda and Lusaka thus turning the electric guitar into the continent’s most important instrument!

Although the musical landscape of these cities had been defined by a core group of bands in the late 1950s, the modernisation of Congolese music has been steadily evolving until the events surrounding the Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman boxing match marked a turning point. The promoter of that event known as “Rumble In The Jungle” was none other than the notorious Don King who needed 10 millions dollars to get Ali and Foreman into a boxing ring. The only candidate willing to put this kind of cash on the table was Mobutu Sese Seko, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mobutu - the megalomaniac dictator who got to power with the support of the United States and Belgium in exchange for unlimited and affordable access to the riches of the country - had a soft spot for music and it doesn’t come as a surprise that he agreed to a three-day live music festival being organised prior to the “Rumble”. Zaïre 74 - as the festival was dubbed - was meant to hype the boxing match and many stars were invited.

Although a myriads of artists flocked in for the occasion, it was the performance of James Brown on Zairian soil that caused havoc among the younger generation, inspiring hundreds of would-be musicians to take up their electric guitars and reverbs cranked to the max in search of a new sound in which hyperactive Rumba was blended with elements of psych and funk. While the results were very different from the popular music of the three Musketeers - as Tabu Ley, Franco and Verckys were known - they weren’t a complete break with tradition.

These new sounds emerged at a time when the Congolese record industry – previously dominated by European major labels – was experiencing a period of decline due to rising production costs and needed a radical change. The void was filled by dozens of entrepreneurs willing to take chances on smaller scale releases. It was the beginning of a golden age for Congolese independent record labels, and the best of them – Cover N°1, Mondenge, Editions Moninga, Super Contact – preserved the work of some of the region’s finest artists, while launching a generation of younger musicians into the spotlight.

The movement was greatly helped by legendary radio shows but it was the dynamic productions of Télé-Zaïre that set the dynamite on fire. Legend has it that TV shows were so huge that president Mobutu himself ordered RTV du Zaïre to put on daily concerts since it halted criminal activities for the duration of the evening.

Congo Funk! is the story of these sounds and labels, but most of all it is the story of two cities, separated by water but united by an indestructible groove. The fourteen songs on this double LP showcase the many facets of the Congolese capitals, and highlight the bands and artists, famous and obscure, who pushed Rumba to new heights and ultimately influenced the musical landscape of the entire continent and beyond.


released April 5, 2024

Graphic Design: Yacine Blaiech (Mogli Studio)
Gatefold Cover Design: Santiago Pozzi aka "Santi"
Mastering: Michael Graves (Osiris Studio)
Text Editing: Jesse Simon
Written by: Volkan Kaya and Samy Ben Redjeb
Interviews and Translation: Volkan Kaya

Special Thanks:
Stefan Storm, simon Mbaki Mazakala, Emanuel Mabutukayame aka Socrates, Herman Bangui Bayo, Joseph Eale Litula, Papa Lambert, Luana Cruciato, Antoinette & Tedika Kisunga, Charly Kumwimba, Dede Mpongo Njoli, Freddy Kebano, Jean De La Croix Mobhe aka Jhomos, jeannot Ne Nzao Diop, joel Mukoma, Maman Elisée, Molende Kwikwi, Pierre Mowana, Rolly Nsita, George Gaye dit Siula ma Siula and all the musicians and the families we met.


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