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Congolese Funk, Afrobeat and Psychedelic Rumba 1969-1978


Congo's turbulent and exhilarating '70s: Nightclubs and dancefloors were packed to the brim in the capital, Kinshasa. Exuberant crowds, still giddy from independence achieved a decade prior, grooved to the sounds of the country's classics. In fact, the whole continent was submerged in the Congolese rumba craze. Encouraged by the fantastic productions of the Ngoma label, vibrant radio waves had been spreading the Congo's sounds from Léopoldville across the continent, making these tunes the country's top export. This unexpected success nurtured a wealth of talented musicians. One of them was Verckys, born Georges Mateta Kiamuangana. At age 18, he became a member of the country's most dominant and influential band: Franco Luambo's OK Jazz. This relationship was short-lived, however, as Verckys, now a versatile and potent multi-instrumentalist, had plans of his own: the formation of Orcheste Vévé in 1968, with the aim of reinventing and modernizing the Congolese sound. Blending the ever-influential prowess of James Brown with Congolese merengue, rumba, and soukous, Verckys stripped away the conventional approach that OK Jazz had pioneered, allowing his saxophone-laced melodies to dominate. Verckys also began recording young urban artists with guitar-driven cavacha sounds and releasing their work on his label, Les Editions Vévé; Les Freres Soki, Bella Bella, Orchestre Kiam, and others shot to stardom overnight, making Verckys quite wealthy. But that wasn't enough for a man with a vision. He built a sprawling entertainment complex called Vévé Centre and oversaw the construction of the Congo's most modern recording studio in Kinshasa, in which he recorded the legendary Tabu Lay Rochereau. Orchestre Vévé's popularity poured across borders and in 1974 the band traveled to Kenya for a two-month tour. James Brown, upon seeing Verckys perform that year, was moved to dub him "Mister Dynamite." "Bassala Hot," "Cheka Sana," and "Talali Talala" were some of the tracks recorded in Nairobi for the Kenyan market, songs which are now available to the ears of the world for the very first time. Analog Africa now has the privilege to present 11 tracks by Verckys et L'Orchestre Vévé at the height of their most funky capabilities, compiled over the course of many years in a land of hardship. Analog Africa welcomes you to the grooviest era of the Congo with a CD accompanied by in-depth liner notes and vintage photographs.