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The influence of Soundway Records on the Afro revival & diggin' scene

Soundway Records

At the end of the summer of 1997, the most essential African musician, Fela Kuti, died, he was 58 and left a big hole in African music. In 1998, jazz DJ Russ Dewbury released on Harmless Records the first Africafunk compilation, as a "tribute to the towering influence of Fela Ransome Kuti", with a second volume released in 2000 selected by John Stapleton.

1998 was also the year Desco Records released The Daktaris' sole album, an Afrobeat revival group based in Brooklyn that got saxophonist Martín Perna to launch the same year the Antibalas band with a few Daktaris members, modeled after modeled after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 and Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive Orchestra. Their first album was released on 1999 on a trip-hop/hip hop/psych label we were following closely, Ninja Tune… In 1999 Russ Dewbury continued his journey into African music diggin, with the Club Africa compilation of hard African Funk, Afro-Jazz and original Afro-Beat, followed in 2000 by a second volume.

Soundway Records InfluenceSoundway Records Influence

In 2001, a small label in the UK called Kona Records released a now legendary compilation, Afro-Rock Volume One. This was a total shock, some of our first exposure to incredible music from Geraldo Pino or K. Frimpong… The label was run by record collector Duncan Brooker, who owned 20,000 records at the time and had enough of Africa's 1970s musicians who had trusted him with their music for three volumes of Afro-Rock, as well as numerous other projects… Nothing else happened on this Kona label afterwards, but two guys were already credited in the compilation's special thanks; one was Quinton Scott who had set up Strut Records in 1999 and who soon enrolled Duncan for the 2001 amazing Nigeria 70 compilation… And the other was Miles Cleret, who would set up the following year Soundway Records, a label specializing in re-issuing recordings of obscure original Afro-Jazz, Afro-Funk, and Latin-Jazz artists, starting in 2002 with the oh-so-good Ghana Soundz compilation.

Soundway Records InfluenceSoundway Records Influence

Strut Records would do an amazing job between 1999 and 2002, reissuing and compiling some rare & essential Afro grooves from BLO, Orlando Julius, Tony Allen, Segun Bucknor, Peter King, Lafayette Afro Rock Band or Oneness of Juju, but the label folded in 2003 (reactivated in 2008 and now part of the !K7 label group). During the last 10 years (2002-2012), it was Soundway Records who kept on raising the flag on 70s Afro-beat, Highlife, African Fusion, Blues, Afro-funk, Afro-rock, with an Orlando Julius anthology in 2003, and the next year with the mythical Afro Baby and Ghana Soundz 2 compilations, and the astonishing Benin band T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo anthology.

All those records totally changed our life and got us many years later to produce Ebo Taylor's first live show in Europe, or Afro-Funk records with musicians from Fela's Egypt 80 or Antibalas, to name a few. Meanwhile, Miles Cleret and Soundway kept on doing the job, with more fantastic African reissues: 2 albums from Geraldo Pino and Sir Victor Uwaifo's anthology...

Soundway Records InfluenceSoundway Records Influence

More compilations followed, all mind-blowing: Nigeria Special, Nigeria Disco Funk Special, Nigeria Rock Special, Ghana Special and The World Ends. In the footsteps of all those labels, many new ones appeared on the scene, Analog Africa, of course, in Germany, but also Academy LPs or Daptone in NY, Sofrito in the UK, Hippo Records in the Netherlands or Vampisoul in Spain…

Soundway Records, while expanding their vision with Colombia!, Panama!, The Sound of Siam (Thailand 60s/70s) or Tumbélé (West Indies grooves) compilations, started reissuing original 70s Africa albums, with The Sweet Talks, Hedzoleh Soundz, Monomono, Black Truth Rhythm Band, Edzayawa, The Funkees or Rob

Soundway Records InfluenceSoundway Records Influence

Artists all over the world have been inspired by this global & groovy Afro revival.

Paris DJs ranks among those, 7 years long and running we've been sharing our past and current African discoveries through our Afro mixes and a few months before releasing our own Paris DJs Soundsystem Afro/Tropical album, we couldn't pass on celebrating Soundway's 10 year anniversary, with 4 exclusive mixes to be aired in the coming weeks on our podcast!

- Nigerian Rock from label founder Miles Cleret, diggin' into his Afro crates (DOWNLOAD)
- Tirei o Chapéu Mixtape from newcomer Batida, mixing old tunes with new beats,
- Soundway 10 Years Mix sent from Bangkok, Thailand, by Chris Menist, a left field-tropical selection,
- a Quantic mix of 78 RPMs he recorded in Colombia…

...which could bring us to talking about the influence of Soundway Records on the Cumbia revival & diggin' scene... but that's for another time!


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