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(traduction : Welcome to Lagos ! avec l'accent nigérian)

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Album de Amala & Blum :

1. Amala & Blum : TALALA
2. Blum : PARIS C'EST PAS FUNKY (version courte radio edit)
3. Blum : DUMBO
4. Amala : FORMULA

Sortie initiale de l'album : septembre 2003 (voir discographie)

 

Welikom 2 Lay-gh-us!

Over a 1997-2002 six-year period, French musician Bruno Blum produced the celebrated "Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967 to 1972' reissue series, which unveiled dozens of previously unheard original recordings by Jamaica's legendary reggae king, Bob Marley. As such, and at the occasion of the anniversary of Bob Marley's passing on May 11, 2002, he was asked by the Nigerian French Cultural Center director Pascal Letellier to speak on the topic of Marley's life at the Maison De France in Lagos, Nigeria. The night after this successful conference, Blum guested on lead guitar with African reggae groups, who all played La Maison de France as a tribute to Bob Marley.

Amala, a rising afrobeat star from Lagos' rough Ajegunle area, enjoyed the show. When Blum suggested they ought to try recording an afrobeat album together, Amala recruited some of the best musicians in Lagos, his own Afro Culture band. Most had already toured or recorded at one time or another with Fela Anikulapo Kuti, another militant and legendary musician who originated and mastered Nigeria's famous afrobeat. In a fever Blum wrote two afrobeat compositions. Spontaneously supported by the dynamic French Cultural Center team, this hot 20-piece band soon rehearsed at La Maison De France under Amala & Blum's co-leadership. His 'Paris c'est pas funky' ('Paris is not funky') views African cities such as Lagos or Dakar as the cities of the future, and other worthwhile destinations to get away from funkyless Paris. Dumbo is a metaphor using an elephant as a symbol of power to crush oppression and to apply self-revolution - as revolution starts within. Like the Indian God Ganesh, 'Dumbo the white elephant' opens all gates, outer and inner alike.

The organization of such an event in very little time was not easy in a town still under curfew, where most musicians don't even own their instrument, don't drive cars, seldom have a telephone number and all live miles apart in Africa's largest, most populated and most dangerous city. But under Amala's guidance, strenghthened by his reputation as the genuine, new voice of the people from the ghetto, with the fantastic, positive response of the Nigerian people as well as the restless support of the local French Cultural Center members, four long tracks were recorded in Afrodisia Studio (formerly Decca studio) where Fela & Africa 70 had recorded much of their best output.

'Talala' and 'Formula', two of Amala's classics, are featured here. On 'Talala,' Amala mentions a few of the dances popular with Yoruba, Haussa and Calabar people in Nigeria, as well as the Java, a traditional popular Paris dance. He is singing as if he was failing to marry one of these people's women through lack of funds, in spite of knowing how to dance their specific steps, preferring in the end to dance his own creation, the Talala dance. On 'Formula,' an angry and ironic Amala sings about the poverty of his people in spite of huge wealth (Nigeria is a rich oil-exporting land), the corruption of the government and army, as well as the various political 'formulas' his country has had to endure through the years.

Overdubbed and mixed in Paris by Blum, the album is released with a cover painted by Ghariokwu Lemi, who designed most of Fela's striking, distinctive album covers. An analog recording in the unique afrobeat style (an endangered African species), 'Welikom 2 Lay-gh-us!' mixes Blum's bluesy, sharp lead guitar and ever smart French lyrics with the finest of Lagos' most authentic talent.

Amala

Amala is a youthman born and bred in Lagos, in the most populated and popular ghetto in Africa known as Ajegunle. Ajegunle is noted for breeding the best raw talents in football, music and arts. Ajegunle is also known for poverty and crime, gathering different tribes and nationals from Nigeria and other countries. Amala has lead a lot of protest groups against past military dictators. Thus afrobeat naturally became his selected format, with a strong creative input. All of the above factors contribute in shaping Amala musically, and politics are hereby adressed since the past and present government corrupt status is creating more and more poor people in the ghetto.

Amala created a new dance step known as Talala. It requires a lot of energy to dance it, but 'Talala' is becoming more and more popular and accepted by Africans and people in other parts of the globe. On May 2nd 1999, Amala did a public launch performance of his first album titled 'Formula Live'. This event attracted more than 10,000 people in Ajegunle. In the year 2000 Amala was nominated best afrobeat artiste and received a fame award. Amala and the Afro Culture Band have performed on different concerts at Lagos' French Cultural Center, including the World Music Day on May 25th, 2002.

One of the setbacks for Amala and the Afro Culture Band has been financing a 20 piece band, but they still make do with what is available to train more youths on music instruments.

Bruno Blum aka Doc Reggae

A singer and guitarist from Paris, France, Blum is also a producer known mostly for his work in the reggae field. His own 2001 'Nuage d'Ethiopie' album, as well as 2001's 'The War Album' (Melodie) featuring the Wailers with Bob Marley and Haile Selassie Is voices have established him as a truly original singer-songwriter, much appreciated for the quality and elegance of his work. His central contribution to the reissue and occasionally mixing - of plenty rare 1967-1972 Bob Marley recordings (EMI) also won him a reputation only challenged by his work as producer, remixer and, on one track, singer on two classic Serge Gainsbourg reggae albums (Mercury-Universal 2003), which feature dub remixes, Gainsbourg versions remixes as well as DJ versions (featuring Big Youth and Lone Ranger among others). In 2002 Blum has released a collection of non-reggae songs of his named 'Think Different' (Melodie). Originally a cartoonist, he is also known for his writings on music.

Amala & Doc Reggae. Photos : Patrice Monfort, Lagos 2002.