Tala AM (or Tala Andre Marie to give him his full and proper name) was born in Bandjoun in Cameroun in 1950. Talas life initially wasn’t easy, he becomes blind at an early age and has lost both his mother and father by the age of 12. He then went on to make his first guitar by hand and form his first band The Rock Boys by the age of 17. Shortly after he meets the powerhouse of Camerounian music at the time Manu Dibango, a pivotal moment. With help, he re-locates to Paris and signs a contract with Fiesta Records. The first fruit of those labours is his debut album Hot Koki.
The lead track (and highlight of this compilation) is Hot Koki it is a powerhouse of funk guitar, soul and infectious afro rhythms. Fast forward to 1974 and the famous Rumble In The Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The story goes a little something like this… At an accompanying musical event we find James Brown and Tala AM. JB Hears Hot Koki and creates a remarkably similar sounding track The Hustle (check it out side by side if you have the time).
Fast forward another 40 years. Time to take a look back on the funkier moments of Tala. This is not a best of Tala, that has already been done. Want to get into Tala’s famous Tchamassi sound or do some bend skin beats… well check out the other compilations. Here at Africa Seven (and in this case) we are headed for destination funk. The musical topic inevitably leads us to the 70’s and we borrow our super slick source material mainly from the albums Tala made for Fiesta Records from 1973 to 1978.
We open up the bombastic brass, swinging basslines and all out groove of Hot Koki (well after a little intro ditty gem). Then its on to the one of the highlights of Arabia album Black Gold. This track swoons groove. Layers of picked and choppy guitar and on point drumming. Sugar Lump is next which sticks to the formula of the previous track but adds in catchy vocals.
Mining into the cave of delights that is the 1978 Black Woman album we then follow up with the driving afro beat grooves and stabby brass of Gotam and the boogie flowing grooves of Black Woman and the frenetic and driving grooves of Ma Ka La. We round things off with the stabby clavi-funk of Nom Te Ma and the ultimate groovy funk-riff closer (and ear worm) Tcham Tcham.
So there you some slices of pure funk from a master. Tala’s role of awards and achievements is long and impressive (check his Wikipedia), Knight of Valour of Cameroun, SACEM awards and his opening of a music school in Douala… However.. we feel these musical masterpieces are right up there with his finest achievements.. A true man of music.