Analog Africa, once again, digs in the dusty crates and bar jukeboxes and comes up with another jewel of African music. Hamad Kalkaba is from Cameroon, and these recordings, from a series of 45s, represent the output of a young man in the Cameroon military of the '70s, hustling to get his music performed and recorded.
As in many cultures, music is and was an addition to a whole life of family and work. In the case of Kalaba, this included a career in the military that saw him rise to the rank of colonel as well as being the Chief of the National Guard Orchestra, as well as another career involving the selection of athletes for the Olympics.
The sound is grainy yet clear, recorded in a church on a Nagra tape recorder with a minimum of microphones and a maximum of musical integrity. The traditional rhythms of Gandjal are augmented by rolling Afrobeat grooves with sparkling electric guitar solos that are distinct in their rawness and aggression.
The band itself, augmented by a full horn section, keys, percussion and drums, are simply an unstoppable groove machine worthy, in comparison, to anything produced in that era. The fact that these are unedited takes speaks volumes of the tightness of the bands themselves, no doubt honed by time afforded by the fact that they were official military bands.
The liner notes, which feature an insightful interview of Kalkaba, are also an astute observation of the state of music today and the values that drove the reasons for music of the time. The combination of great playing and minimal recording tech has produced a wonderful example of African sounds of Cameroon in the '70s. (Analog Africa)