The influences of American soul and blues are obvious here, the former quite apparent in the Memphis groove of Muluquen Mellese's Wetetie Mare, with its smoking bass line. But the most revolutionary pieces are those that go utterly against history, making the piece relevant for the young--which, after all, is what rock, hip-hop and every other movement have done in the past!
1969-1978: the main body of Ethiopian records was produced in less than one decade: all in all, just under 500 45s and around 30 LPs. Amha Ashèté, creator of the Amha Records label, was the driving force behind this brief creative burst and one of the main founders of the modernist movement which swept the Erhiopian scene during the end of the rule of the emperor Haile Sellassie. In six years, Amha issued around 250 titles. From his first recordings, Amha Eshèté displayed unerring taste in choosing the best independent or otherwise unattached musicians.
Featuring : Girma Bèyènè, Mulatu Astatqè, Fèqadè Amdè Mesqel, Tesfa Maryam Kidané, Muluqèn Mèllèssè, Mahmoud Ahmed, Sèyfu Yohannès, Tèshomè Meteku, Gètatchèw Kassa, Tilayé Gèbrè etc
The introductory album to what is an ongoing series on the music of Ethiopia from the '60s and '70s features a variety of vocal and instrumental tracks from artists mostly unfamiliar to Western audiences. This brief period of liberated creativity before a military shutdown yielded an astonishing burst of creativity, melding the traditions of Ethiopia (geographically and culturally straddling Africa and the Middle East) with R&B and European pop in unexpected ways. Loping rhythms merge with Memphis-style horns, wheezy Farfisa organs, and quavering but passionate vocals that at times shimmer with brilliance. Early tracks by superstar Mahmoud Ahmed merge with rarities like the stunning Teshome Meteku, whose career spanned only four tracks total. Ending with the biggest ever hit, Getatchew Kassa's "Tezeta" (5,000 copies sold), this will leave you wanting more, as will the wonderful and comprehensive liner notes. --Derek Rath