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Boomkat Product Review:
Ooosh! Now-Again hail a lesser known but no less deadly ‘70s Ethio-Jazz killer from Ayalew Mesfin and his Black Lion Band.
Proceeding a strong handful of retrospective compilations since 2018, ‘Wegene (My Countryman)’ throws down 10 of the funkiest chops we’ve heard from this incredibly fertile era of Ethiopian music. Right up there with legendary figures such as Mulatu Astake, Mahmoud Ahmed, Hailu Mergia and Alemayehu Eshete, the work of Mesfin and his band is surely among the hardest of that cohort and a period that would sadly come to an end with political regime change in the region soon after these recordings were made.
We’re talking pure JB’s style swag with wicked ululation’s on ‘teregrew Nebere (You Used to Understand)’, and more psyched-out tackle with woozy horn vamps in ‘Ambassel’, plus more gently head-spinning organ and soulful urgency in the swaying dervish ‘Neye Temelesh Belwat (Tell her to Coem Back)’, the tremolo-inflected surfy wave of ‘Rehab’, and in-the-pocket tightness of ‘Lèné Antchi Bitcha Nèsh.’That’s all finely balanced by his burning Ethio-soul-jazz numbers, at best in the haunting ‘Endetnesh Belulegn (Ask How She’s Doing)’, and the 9 minute end of night slow jam ’Tizitash Zewetir (Your Memories Always)’.