Boomkat Product Review:
The first half of two captivating collections from Honest Jon's, including seventeen vintage songs from East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) recorded between 1938-46. Taking full advantage of unprecedented access to EMI's treasured archives in Hayes, Middlesex, HJ's drew from more than 400 sides in the HMV MA series: 10" 78rpm 'Native Records', a set of recordings made in Africa, pressed in the UK and sent back to Africa, aimed at native Africans rather than the white colonialists or increasing Indian communities, all with the intention of raising record and gramophone sales. The tracks can be broadly split into three substyles, minstrelsy, percussion-based ensembles and taarab. Ssekiomou's striking opener 'Wireless' exemplifies the time and sound of these recordings, relating a minstrel's tale of the arrival of wireless radio to Kampala, central Uganda, and the flurry of excitement is clearly manifesting in the deliciously cacophonous, urgent Ndingidi - a small stringed instrument played here with a rapidly bowed rhythmic ostinato. As expected, the attention to detail and double gatefold presentation is second to none, and the mind boggles at the amount of work gone into translating and compiling the extensive sleevenotes and accompanying track-by-track pull out. All music lovingly restored at Abbey Road. Highly recommended!