Saturday, May 24, 2008

Party Beats

Well, this is a bit of an oddity.

Throughout the 1980s, the name "Nkono Teles" (or sometimes "Nkono Telex") was a regular feature in the credits of records by an array of Nigerian artists ranging from new wave funk and boogie acts like Dizzy K. Falola, Mandy Brown Ojugbana and Jombo, to reggae upstarts like Majek Fashek and Ras Kimono, to respected old hands like King Sunny Ade and Fela.

What is remembered by few is Party Beats, the Cameroonian keyboard wizard and producer's solo album from 1985 (or 86... I forget). And I do mean "solo"--while Teles pulled in several of the artists he had worked with (including Dizzy K., Veno Marioghae, Mike Okri and Mannix Okonokwo) to lay down backing vox, Teles took for himself the credit "Lead vocal, synthesizers, keyboards and computers, syncussion, guitars and all other instruments."

Teles was not much of a singer, but a lot of the tunes on the LP were actually not bad, with springy pop melodies and fresh freestyle/electro-boogie arrangements that made them a clarion call for b-boys. I particularly remember the track "Be My Lady" getting a lot of radio play.

Teles has always been a strong advocate for futurism and technological advancement in African music and he was clearly getting his "Rockit" on here. Yeah, some of it sounds a bit cheesy in retrospect, but yo... back then we listened to stuff like this and it was like, "The future is NOW!!!"

These days, Nkono is back home in Cameroon where he produces artists in his ultramodern studio in Douala.

Nkono Teles - "Party Beats"



Beat Electric said...

This is new on me, I know little about African electro from this period, this is great stuff.

Comb & Razor said...

yeah... i'm probably gonna drop some more joints from this album a little later.

thanks for stopping by Beat Electric... i've been like a kid in a candy store on your blog lately!

John B. said...

I went by the Tabansi Records office in Lagos when I was there in '85. Unfortunately it was closed, it being Christmas break, as was Afrodisia.

Did Tabansi specialize in this sort of music? I only have a couple of their records.

John B. said...

Actually it was in 1995.

Comb & Razor said...

y'know, John... funny you should ask that, as just this morning i was listening to a bunch of Tabansi Records and thinking about "the Tabansi Sound."

Tabansi was without a doubt the most diverse and successful of all the local independent labels, releasing highlife, funk, disco, gospel, juju, reggae and "native" music, as well as licensing a LOT of music from other African countries, the Caribbean, and America.

but in terms of the records they produced in-house, i'd say the epitomical "Tabansi Sound" was a melange of pan-Afropop styles with a distinct Caribbean leaning eg Felix Lebarty's discolypso, or maybe afro-soca and highlife makossa.

i'm surprised the label was still around by 1995, though. i thought they petered out sometime in the early 90s (but of course, maybe it's just that i had stopped paying much attention to Nigerian pop music by that time).

John B. said...

Yeah, actually we were told then that the label was dormant. I don't remember if I was told that the founder had died, the son was looking to revive things & was looking for a deal (or maybe I have it confused with Anodisc in Aba) or whatever. My memories are a little fuzzy (I remember being somewhat overwhelmed by the Lagos "experience.")

But they did still have an office in Lagos.

One reason I was in Lagos then was that I was interested in licensing some music for release. I visited Premier, Ivory & a few other labels, but nothing ever came of it.

Birdseed said...

Hot constantly out-of-tune pitch-bend thing.

Comb & Razor said...

i kinda had you in mind when i posted this song, 'Seed!

Anonymous said...

Nkono Teles! Nice one. Thanks for taking me back down memory lane, again- in a good way.

Comb & Razor said...

i'm glad you remember Telex!

Lapsklaus said...

This song is not called Party Beats (which is the name of his debut lp). This song is called Your Body, and is taken from his second lp, called Fiesta Dancin'. Great post!

Comb & Razor said...

No, the song posted here is "Party Beats," taken from his third (not first) LP, of the same title. "Your Body" is an instrumental.

Domantas said...

The link doesn't work for the "Party Beats". Could you please add new one?