The Public Records 6/28/18
Well folks, they’re here. The new arrivals in the Reggae and Afro-Beat sections have been cataloged, mixed, and placed on the shelves. While the record stores in Lancaster generally do not receive a lot of this material regularly, occasionally a collection can be stumbled across – and this time around it wasn’t a bad haul at all! Now we did have a bit of this before, but our selection of African music was severly lacking. We were able to triple our collection with two great compilation albums from Mr. Bongo; therefore, to celebrate our find, we have selected our first piece of the delicious tapestry that makes the musical traditions of that massive continent so appealing.
For the week of June 24th, 2018, The Public Records presents Manu Dibango’s “Biko” (1994, Tabata Musica y Letra) featuring Alex Brown, Peter Gabriel, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Geoffrey Oryema, and Sinead O’Connor. This disc is a 12 inch single that is to be played at 45 rpm.
Manu, short for Emmanuel, N’Djoke Dibango was born December 12th, 1933 in Douala, Cameroon. He is still alive today, which makes him a spry 84 years young. Born to a Yabassi civil servant father and fashion designer and small bussiness owner Duala mother, young Emmanuel had a bit of an identity crisis. Growing up with parents from two different ethnic groups, no matter how enlightened they both were, was difficult in a society that viewed mixed marriages with a bit of derision. He thus felt not a deep identity to either side of his family tree (which may explain his affinity for tunes).
In his early years he attended a church school in the evenings for a religious education and it was there that he learned his love for music. Around the age of 8, he began attending the French colonial school near his home where he became bilingual and in 1944, Charles de Gaulle visited it while touring the country.
Manu became proficient in saxophone and vibraphone and has collaborated with many big names across the globe including: Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, The Fania All-Stars, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Bernie Worrell, and Eliades Ochoa to name a few (not including those on this maxi single).
Much of his music has also been sampled or used (hey, everything’s derivative) by musicians such as Michael Jackson, The Fugees’, and Rhiannon – even Eddie Murphy liked him so much that he made a parody of one of Manu’s tunes. In 2004, Manu became a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He served as the first chairman of Cameroon’s Music Corporation., an organization that helps settle disputes about the royalties for artists. He has also been honored with many other titles and positions throughout his long and illustrious career.
An all around great, we’ll keep our eyes open for more Dibango albums or singles. Be sure to enjoy these tasty tunes with a peppery cocktail; The Spiced Tonic. Your ear drums and taste buds won’t know what hit ’em!