The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Manu Dibango


1-8-09 Manu Dibango


When it comes to writing about African music, I am really out of my depth. I know almost nothing about it. I remember when King Sunny Ade got a big push; I remember hearing about Fela Kuti – but I don’t think I ever heard any of that music – at least not properly.


It wasn’t until the 80’s that heard Manu Dibango – “Gone Clear” and “Ambassador”, still my two favorite albums of his. Those are his Sly & Robbie albums. The next one I tried was his Bill Laswell / Material album, “Electric Africa”.


But being an African artist, his on-line discography is confusing. I guess some of his early 70’s stuff was singles only, and have been collected and re-collected numerous times, notably “Soul Makossa”. Ooh, how to tell the ‘best of’ titles from the initial works!


My humble collection:


CD5 ABELE DANCE CELLULOID NL CELD 1711 1992 2 TRK CD Single CD5

CD AFRICADELIC HI&FLY FR H&F 00019 1972 12 TRKS ('06 issue)

CD AFRICAVISION Vol. 3 BUDA FR 3017577 2007 19 TRKS ('76 - '03 recordings)

CD AFRIJAZZY MELODIE FR 859022 1995? 8 TRKS

CD AMBASSADOR MANGO US 539658.2 1980 6 TRKS Sly & Robbie

CDx2 B SIDES MELODIE FR 85908.2 2002 15 TRKS

CD CUBAFRICA (Cuarteto Patria) MELODIE FR 79593.2 1998 11 TRKS

CD ELECTRIC AFRICA CELLULOID US CELD 6114 1985 4 TRKS

CD GONE CLEAR MANGO US 539539.2 1980 6 TRKS Sly & Robbie

CD HOME MADE SONO DISC CD 362.018 1990 4 TRKS

CD LIVE '91 FNAC FR 662021 1992 9 TRKS Live

CD LIVE '96 - PAPA GROOVE WMD FR 382 025 1996 8 TRKS Live

CD MBOA' SU (KAMER FEELIN') JPS FR CDJPS 64 2000 7 TRKS

CD NEGROPOLITAINES Vol. 2 MELODIE FR 85905.2 1992 9 TRKS

CD POLYSONIK SOUND WAVE 89008.2 1992 10 TRKS

12" REGGAE MAKOSSA MANGO US MLPS 7784 1980 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

CD SEVENTIE'S SOUL PARIS SPCD 8701 1987 12 TRKS

CD SOFT & SWEET SOUL PARIS CD 63703 1983 10 TRKS

CD SOUL MAKOSSA MUSIDISC FR 403652 1985 11 TRKS

LP SURTENSION GARIMA FR ZL 37829 1984 6 TRKS

CD WAKA JUJU ESPERANCE CD 7515 1982 6 TRKS ('90 issue)

CD WAKAFRIKA GIANT US 24566.2 1994 13 TRKS Peter Gabriel


In 2009, there is a fairly understandable selection of Manu Dibango’s CD’s for sale, locally. I also have a DVD of a live performance, which is rather good. When he made “Wakafrica” for Peter Gabriel’s production company, I thought he would get a lot more attention than he did.


In the 90’s, I got his delightful autobiography, “Three Kilos Of Coffee” – about how he went to Belgium from Cameroon, set up shop, made recordings, played live etc – in the late 50’s / early 60’s. A fascinating read!


Still, I wonder how many more initial albums of his I am missing? I’ve tried to steer clear of compilations. He’s a wonderful musical artist, and I would love to know more of his work.


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5 Comments:

Blogger chas_m said...

An interesting find!

My knowledge of African music is even weaker than yours -- I've had a Fela CD or two over the years but was never a big fan. My main exposure to genuine African music comes from either King Sunny Ade or Ladysmith Black Mambazo. This is probably akin to saying "I know Jamaican music, I have a Bob Marley CD ..."

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Michael Jackson ripped off his classic "Soul Makossa" for "Wanna Be Starting Something" from "Thriller." I thought there was a lawsuit but I can't find any references. I'm guessing a successful lawsuit against that record would have paid handsomely.

I have always loved the cadence of Dibango's name. It's one of the most musical names I've ever heard.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

"Gone Clear" and "Ambassador" are the two to start with; once in print on Mango/Island in the US, via Universal.

7:56 AM  
Blogger esibo said...

It's really difficult getting Manu Dibango stuff from the US, especialy video preformances. My research gives me the impression that torrent sites in Russian and former Eastern Europe are the best sites to search for Manu Dibango video recordings

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have (had) several Manu CD's, but the one I liked most, "Soul Makossa"(Musidisc 403652, which you reference), has somehow gone missing. Would you have any advice as to how and where I might find another copy of this specific CD to buy?

Thanks for any help and for your blog.

9:46 AM  

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