Pamelo Mounk'a, No.1 Africain (a repost)

IMG_0277 by you.

I began buying Congolese records during 1980. The punk music that had drawn me to New York a few years earlier had succumbed to terminal ennervation, with Kingstonian 'cultural' reggae not far behind it. At the time, an African student dj named Lawrence Nii Nartey was broadcasting on WKCR, Columbia University's radio station in uptown Manhattan; his program, emerging from my bedside radio in Tribeca, had a galvanizing effect on this little honkie. He played all the greats: Franco & OK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Kabassele, Dr. Nico et al. The songs were so good, each one fully as sensuous - to invoke again a metaphor that has resurfaced more than once in my writing - as the flick of a sperm cell's tail. I didn't want them to stop. They didn't. The novelty of these extended dance tunes was such that if I found an album from Zaire containing four songs, it would be deemed good enough and I would buy it without question. Of course, nothing was or is that simple. This practice had me buying a lot of mediocre music in the course of pilgrimages to Brooklyn's African Record Centre. I did manage, however, to divine a simple, immutable truth while early in the thrall of listening to Pamelo Mounk'a: If a woman's name ended in "a," chances were Pamelo could spin a deathless tune in homage to her.

No.1 Africain, Pamelo's third solo album helmed by producer Eddy Gustave, is offered herewith as proof. "Tamara, Ndjeu Nkasi A Me" and "Nourama" comprise the B side of this disc, both tunes sporting the earmarks of great soukous music: the horn section jabbing and feigning like a prize fighter; multiple guitar interplay that obliterates the line between rhythm and lead roles, as with the Rolling Stones' best London singles from the mid-'60s; and that genuinely pregnant pause when, after a couple of verses sung to a languid 3+2 Afro-Cuban tattoo, the band shifts into high gear for the extended vamps known as the seben, which form the lion's share of a given song. I live for the seben, when drummer Domingo Salsero plays four-to-the-floor, driving the band towards the horizon without obstacles in sight, red-lining in fifth gear all the while. Master Mwana Congo gets off some rude asides on his guitar, the backing vocalist offers props off-mic to the gentlemen of the orchestra. From this, something like genuine trance music materializes.

What's more, Pamelo's root inspiration holds water when soaked overnight. Every woman I've ever met (well, there's a lone exception, whom I'll gladly ignore for the nonce) whose given name ended in the letter "a" has become a luminous, valued presence in my life. Pamelo Mounk'a offers a gallery of these alluring creatures throughout his discography: Selimandja, Nora, Camitina and the penultimate, his 'tresor Hindou,' Samantha, whom we'll meet in a later post. What a guy! What a life! What a cream-colored suit! More's the pity, then, that Pamelo and the late Robert Palmer never met, as both were boulevardiers setting an admirably louche example for the rest of us.

IMG_0278 by you.

One more of Monsieur Mounk'a's solo efforts will appear next, being the first chapter of his solo career prior to working avec Eddy. Beyond that, other soukous discs will be offered as iterations of my soundtrack for warm weather, Arette Gran Clase tequila, buttery women and hedonism in all desirous forms. Then, in a while, the twin peaks of Pamelo's canon, Pamelo Mounk'a and Samantha. Please stay tuned.

NO. 1 AFRICAIN (@ 160)


Anonymous said…
It's a pleasure to have you back, Herr Reeshard! I first came across your site back in summer '05, and it was my introduction to some fine African (and other) music, and to your commentary thereupon. Back then, I thought I should draw out the pleasure by retrieving the music every once in a rare while ... I was naive about the ways of the web, and hence I wound up missing out on many of your posted tunes when they evaporated, "No.1 Africain" included. Marvelous to hear it at last; I hope you'll grace us with more repostings - but especially with some new (old) sounds and new (new) words.
Anonymous said…
Just dropped in by chance, good to see you posting again. Treasure the 3 Pamelo Mounk'a postings you've already made, looking forward future stuff.

sroden said…
thanks for posting this... it's a friggin amazing record!!!!!!!
Anonymous said…
What a great pleasure to see Count Reeshard back on top form again in 2007.
I enjoyed the education on lots of artists last years especially King Sunny Ade.
Please keep up the wonderful work.
Chris Ward
Nottingham - UK
Strange Fruit said…
Thanks for reupping this one, I would LOVE to see some of the King Sunny's reupped, too. Or any of the files that are now too old to find. Thanks for the shares!
Anonymous said…
While I could not understand what this young woman was saying, I am very please to have listen to record by very favorite africa singer, pa MEH la mounka.

We miss you in the Southland, my man....
Anonymous said…
I am so glad to see you putting this great music up for us to enjoy. Welcome back! I cannot wait to hear this (it is downloading as I type)!
Anonymous said…
The file has been deleted from rapishare servers.
"reason: this file is forbidden to be shared, complaints have been received". Looks like pamelo is really looking after his copyrights :\
Anonymous said…
I just came across your site-- how wonderful. I look forward to whatever else you come up with, and have one request-- would love it if Propulsion! was re-upped. Thanks for your work here!

Drew said…
Pamelo Mounka - un maitre !
I lived in East Africa for 6 years and grew to love this music.
I was into punk and psychedelia at the time I went to African Record Ctr in Brooklyn to buy this album. Your narrative is amazingly similar to mine. God Bless.