UPR!SE is a blog dedicated to The Shrine's Patron Saint and inspiration, Fela Anikulpo Kuti.

The blog focuses on music, fashion, art, design, politics and culture. It is a celebration of trailblazing souls who rise up without compromise.


Monday, August 2, 2010


Although not a recent release; this Lee Perry production somehow bypassed our normally diligent eyes. Recorded on a re-used 4 track tape at Perry's infamous Black Ark studio in 1977, "African Roots" stands as the first blending of African and Reggae music. One of the well-told tales on its inception and part of its folklore is that Zairian musicians Seke Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo were abandoned by their promoter in Kingston. Begging for food on the streets, they finally found their way to Perry's studio (quite possibly following the odor of heavy weed) where Perry took this as a sign from Jah and proceeded to record a session with them.

Backing musicians included Mickey Boo Richards (drums), Boris Gardiner (bass), Earl 'Chinna' Smith ( guitar), Vin Gordon (trombone), David Madden (trumpet), Winston Wright (organ), Glen DeCosta (saxophone), and the Jolly Brothers (backing vocals). Seke and Kalo provided lead vocals plus played drums, guitars, horns and percussion while Scratch acted as producer and percussionist. The songs were sung in Lingala and English and blended Perry's reggae sound and Zairean soukous.

Originally eight songs were recorded and a rough mix of an album (entitled Monama) was sent to Island records. Island ultimately shelved the album, and those tapes remain in the vaults until 2006. In 1979, six tracks were released on the French Sonafric label as Seke Molenga And Kalo Kawongolo; the Dutch label RUNN released a collection with the same six tracks called From The Heart Of The Congo in 1991. The current cd release includes a bonus track 'African Freedom' by Brotherhood.

So, track down this little known gem of African/Reggae fusion.

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