The Vinyl Records: David Nzomo, African Politics: More Songs From Kenya

Artist: David Nzomo
Album: African Politics: More Songs From Kenya
Label: Folkways Records
Year: 1973
Cat.: FW 8502

I don’t know very much about the traditional musics of Africa, and I don’t know very much about the politics. So I am going to go ahead and refrain from saying very much about the music itself on this record. I will say, however, that I enjoyed the listen – despite unfamiliar and seemingly disharmonious guitar tunings.

What I will mention is the one thing that stood out for me as evidence that this is a “Folk” record and not a “Rock” record: the songs consistently end with a final chord that rings for about a beat-and-a-half at which point someone pushes the Stop button and the recording is over. This listener was left with a lingering desire to hear a final chord decay at its own pace, or at least get shuffled off the stage with a slightly more gradual fade… the abrupt cut-offs were jarring.

There are a lot of these Folkways records in our collection. I think most were inherited from an Aunt and Uncle who had similarly inherited them from a friend. A friend who had a nice record collection and knew how to take care of them. The graphic design for the entire series is gorgeous, and these albums would be works of art even without the music. There are (at least) two complete collections of the entire Folkways catalogue. One is at the Smithsonian, and the other is at a Canadian University – and I got to stand in front of the shelf (shelves) with the entire collection lined up in (I think I’m remembering this correctly) order of Catalogue number. Just seeing the hundreds of spines lined up side-by-side was enough to make my heart skip a beat – and the rest of the packaging is equally inspired.