Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Alternative Thursdays - Week 4 (May 26, 2005)

Revolutions per Beats: Part 3

I should have mentioned Teddy Afro earlier as he is the very “NOW” thing in Addis but waiting has also got me to digest his new album. Teddy Afro has been an Ethiopian musical sensation for some 6years. My first acquaintance came in a period when I started to get aggravated by the excessive use keyboards in Ethiopian music. It didn’t take me very long to yank his first album Abugida from the CD player throw it in to the condemned pile. I have a very damn good reason for that.

After I moved back, I heard the song “Tarik Tesera” (history is made) he wrote for his sensational match up, Kenenisa Bekele; a 21 year old athlete, and what an athlete, who is expected to replace our one and only Haile Gebresilase. Despite the use of the keyboards, it is a very good song; very timely considering it was right after our two gems, Kenenisa and Haile, came in first and second at the Athens Olympics 10000m, where Kenenisa came spearheading the Ethiopian flood. The story is, Teddy wrote the song right after watching the race while he was still intoxicated with the triumph so he captured his and every other Ethiopian feeling in his lyrics. The music video is a real tear jerker when you see the part where Kenenisa overtakes Haile but refuses to leave him to far behind but Haile gives him the ‘go get them’ nod (sniff sniff). “Tarik Tesera” was a transition point for teddy, since then I can say his music has been conscious of happenings including the one he wrote for bob Marley also in time for the 60th birthday celebrations. Who would forget the cheesy yet catchy line “Rita Marley, bring the body”.

His recent album is called ‘Yasteseryal’, which translates to “it heals” in reference to the divine, is by far the most socio-politically loaded album to come out in recent years. I didn’t pay much attention when it first came out until I went in the studio for my 3rd week Alternative Thursdays and got a barage of requests to play “Teddy’s new album”. Very irritating at the time nonetheless got me curious. So I got the album, I subdued my hatred for tacky keyboards arrangements, and clicked play.

It is exactly for moments like this why I love to music, to know there is someone somewhere who feels the same way, someone who has been creative with our mutual feelings. The title song ‘Jah yasteseryal’, is not just Teddy’s and my feeling. I need no more explanation for the excessive “teddy’s new album” requests for the song is the feeling of every Ethiopian who is fade up with the misery train we are aboard, fade up of being passengers with no idea of destination, fade up with always expecting change to come from the train conductors. It’s time we take the wheels but prepare our selves for the tracks ahead for The tracks ahead need awareness and patience and positivism and vision. The tracks we’ve left behind should be a lessons and not legend we live of off.

yasteseryal exhaled my expectations in every way. The synthesized sound use although present, the level of detail and songwriter-ship makes it tolerable. Some times the use of cheesy sound clips give the album a comical relief from the deep national trance it puts you in to.

So when I went in to the studio and found out teddy afro is banned from the airwaves, I wasn’t too surprised. In fact I had prepared a substitute song to play anticipating this cheep, oppressive, narrow minded move fearing the enlightenment of the people. As Pink Floyd said “The show must go on” so the show went on with a huge regret not to have included teddy in Revolutions per Beats WHILE I COULD HAVE! i am sorry everyone.

Play list:

  1. Leonard Cohen – Democracy
  2. Catpower – Free
  3. Controller Controller – History
  4. Johnny Cash – Man in Black
  5. The Specials – a message to you Rudy
  6. The Tragically Hip – Natical Disaster
  7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Rise or Fall
  8. Modest Mouse – Float on
  9. Teddy Afro – Jah Yasteseryal Tom Waits – Starving in the belly of the Whale
  10. King Tubby and Soul Syndicate – Leaving Babylon dub
  11. Dub Pistols – World Gone Crazy
  12. Dj Shadow – War is Hell


Blogger trotts said...

What?! I swear you hated the hip...

9:43 AM  
Blogger melatobia said...

Nice blog. I like the sprit ... I especially like your comments about 'Boleans' and their disconnect with the rest of the 'half-not' Ethiopia. I often wonder why it is the least visionary Ethiopians who become rich. Their lack of commitment to charity, civil service, community work ...any sort of donation for the good of the public is pretty much ... monstrous.

"it is a very good song; very timely considering it was right after our two gems, Kenenisa and Haile, came in first and second at the Athens Olympics 10000m, where Kenenisa came spearheading the Ethiopian flood."

BTW, Haile came in fivth. Kenenisa 1st, Sileshi (i think) 2nd, Eri dude 3rd, Ugandan 4th, and then The Emeror Himself ;-)

7:04 AM  

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