Dur-Dur Band - Dur Dur of Somalia - Volume 1, Volume 2 & Previously Unreleased Tracks (LPx3 VINYL)

Dur-Dur Band - Dur Dur of Somalia - Volume 1, Volume 2 & Previously Unreleased Tracks (LPx3 VINYL)

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When Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Mogadishu in November of 2016, he was informed by his host that he would have to be accompanied at all times by an armed escort while in the country. The next morning, a neighbour and former security guard put on a military uniform, borrowed an AK-47 from somewhere and escorted him to Via Roma, an historical street in the heart of Hamar-Weyne, the city's oldest district. Although previous Analog Africa releases have demonstrated a willingness to go more than the extra air-mile to track down the stories behind the music, the trip to Mogadishu was a musical journey of a different kind. It was the culmination of an odyssey that had started many years earlier.

In 2007 John Beadle, a Milwaukee-based musicologist and owner of the much loved Likembe blog, uploaded a cassette he had been handed twenty years earlier by a Somalian student. The post was titled 'Mystery Somali Funk' and it was, in Samy's own words, "some of the deepest funk ever recorded". The cassette seemed to credit these dense, sonorous tunes to the legendary Iftin Band. But initial contact with Iftin's lead singer suggested that the 'mystery funk' may have actually been the work of their chief rival, Dur-Dur, a young band from the 80s.

The first single 'Diinleya' had taken Somalian airwaves by storm in a way rarely seen before or since. The next single, 'Dab', had an even greater impact, and the two hits had turned them into the hottest band in town. In addition to their main gig as house band at the legendary Jubba Hotel, Dur-Dur had also been asked to perform the music for the play "Jascyl Laba Ruux Mid Ha Too Rido" (May one of us fall in love) at Mogadishu's national theatre. The play was so successful that the management had been forced to extend the run by a month, throwing the theatre's already packed schedule into complete disarray; and each night, as soon as the play had finished, Dur-Dur had to pack their instruments into a Volkswagen T1 tour bus that would shuttle them across town in time for their hotel performance.

On their first two albums, Volume 1 and Volume 2, three different singers traded lead-vocal duties back and forth. Shimaali, formerly of Bakaka Band, handled the Daantho songs, a Somalian rhythm from the northern part of the country that bears a striking resemblance to reggae; Sahra Dawo, a young female singer, had been recruited from Somalia's national orchestra, the Waaberi Band. Their third singer, the legendary Baastow, whose nickname came from the italian word 'pasta' due to the spaghetti-like shape of his body, had also been a vocalist with the Waaberi Band, and had been brought into Dur-Dur due to his deep knowledge of traditional Somali music, particularly Saar, a type of music intended to summon the spirits during religious rituals. These traditional elements of Dur-Dur's repertoire sometimes put them at odds with the manager of the Jubba Hotel who once told Baastow "I am not going to risk having Italian tourists possessed by Somali spirits. Stick to disco and reggae".

This triple LP / double CD reissue of the band's first two albums – the first installment in a three-part series dedicated to Dur-Dur Band – represents the first fruit of Analog Africa's long labours to bring this extraordinary music to the wider world. Remastered from the best available audio sources, these songs have never sounded better. Some thirty years after they first made such a splash in the Mogadishu scene, they have been freed from the wobble and tape-hiss of second and third generation cassette dubs, to reveal a glorious mix of polychromatic organs, nightclub-ready rhythms and hauntingly soulful vocals.

In addition to two previously unreleased tracks, the music is accompanied by extensive liner notes, featuring interviews with original band members, documenting a forgotten chapter of Somalia's cultural history. Before the upheaval in the 1990s that turned Somalia into a war-zone, Mogadishu, the white pearl of the Indian Ocean, had been one of the jewels of eastern Africa, a modern paradise of culture and commerce. In the music of the Dur-Dur band – now widely available outside of Somalia – we can still catch a fleeting glimpse of that golden age.
 

released September 14, 2018