In the yesteryear that was the late 90s, I clerked with a guy at a record store who prided himself an authority on all sounds foreign. As in, that was his shit—his domain. And while at times he could be a little too precious about it, he was incredibly knowledgeable/enthusiastic, and took me to school daily on all matter of stuff traipsing the continents of Africa to South America. Not unlike one’s first exposure to jazz, the experience was—in part—a matter of just learning the various nomenclature and the ever so slight variable nuances within. The regional variances alone seemed mind boggling at the time, like how something off the coast of, say, Brazil would be, to the trained ear, infinitely different than something originating 75 miles inland.  Our protagonist seemed to know them all and I too began to develop an ear.

One day he brought in an album (or possibly a compilation) from his personal collection that he had just scored. He couldn’t stop raving about it as he loaded it into the store’s disc changer; something or other to do with steel drums. At the time my twenty year old self equated the term ‘steel drums’ with bad vacations and Tom Cruise’s Cocktail. I was less than enthused. But whatever it was he played that day changed all that.

The below track by the Mosco Tiles Fonclaire steel drum orchestra (culled from the Stones Throw Records Black Man’s Cry collection, a release I wrote about earlier this year compiling works inspired by Fela Kuti) captures the spirit of what it was I heard that afternoon 14 years ago.

Related: In February we published Fela Kuti, Feliciano dos Santos, Afrobeat & Western Interpretation, a look into the music and legacy of Fela Kuti and then some. A highly recommended read.

MP3: Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra :: Black Man’s Cry
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2 Responses to “Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra :: Black Man’s Cry”

  1. long time reader, first time commenter. great post! forget the cowbell, give me more steel drum.

  2. I remember being 11 or 12 yrs. old and going to 4 to 4 in skinners park, and would get there early enough to watch fonclaire set up, and would not move from that spot because when that blue light goes on the next thing you here is the funky sound comming from the bass man people wold start to garther and you can’t push you way through so I be up there in the stands enjoying the band I grow to love . I have yet to hear anyboby come this close to the fonclaire of the 70;s that’s incluiding the present fonclaire when it comes to that stage side………I love my band.

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