First published in Songlines Magazine issue 142, November 2018.
Dur-Dur of Somalia: Volume 1 & Volume 2
Analog Africa (2CD, 108 mins)
They were the biggest band in 1980s Somalia, huge across the whole Horn of Africa, and they’re not completely unknown outside the continent, either. Dur-Dur Band’s album Volume 5 was reissued by Awesome Tapes From Africa in 2013 to much acclaim, and now Analog Africa have taken the reins to release their remaining albums. This collection includes the band’s first two albums from 1986 and 1987, as well as a couple of previously unreleased tracks.
And wow. It’s a hot one, alright. As expected from Analog Africa’s output, this album is filled with funk, and Dur-Dur go hard: the track ‘Doon Baa Maraysoo’ is an intense seven-and-a-half minutes of driving groove, and it’s not alone in that. It all has its deepest roots in Somali traditional music, particularly the powerful sounds of the saar possession rituals. There’s also a surprisingly heavy dose of roots reggae in there too, complete with amazing bass guitar by Abdulahi Ujeeri Ajami. Add saxophones, synthesisers, electric guitars and the legendary voice of Sahra Dawo into the mix, and you won’t wonder why this band was so big.
Somali music is shaping up to be a world music phenomenon; Dur-Dur Band is a great place to start.