PO Box 26072,
London SW10 0YA
||African music re-issue label
especially and particularly of popular dance music from Ghana,
Congo (Zaire), Tanzania, Kenya etc. Sub-licenses available for
Movie, TV, Advertising, CD compilations and other media.
Photo library of label artistes, and hundreds of other African
Also available: Research, editorial, public relations and
print publishing services; recording and music publishing
collaborations; global contacts for touring, promotion; educational
The RetroAfric collection
As time passes faster with the spinning of each new disc, the musical
treasures of Africa disappear further into the mists of cultural
memory. RetroAfric continues to comb the continent for forgotten
masterpieces by Africa's pioneer artists and showmen. Our time
span stretches from the 1940s to the present day and 'retroactivity'
is guaranteed. In time all becomes Retro.
Established 1986,London, UK
The RetroAfric partnership began as much as a rescue mission for
some of Africa's finest and long-forgotten music as a business venture.
The three partners are Ronnie Graham, historian, author and development
worker; Graeme Ewens, journalist and author, and Charles Easmon,
writer, arts administrator and African music business all-rounder.
At the time we were each writing about African music for a variety
of publications and were being stimulated by the surge of new African
music. Fortuitously, some great vintage material came into our hands
which included 1950s songs by ET Mensah and Franco &
OK Jazz; arguably the most crucial figures in the history of
Highlife and Congo Rumba, respectively. These recordings
were recognised as essential items from the formative years of African
popular dance music, which had not been heard during the intervening
30 years. As enthusiasts for the new music, we each also had an
affection for the earlier pan-African sounds which underpinned the
contemporary music of the 1980s and we believed it would be a valuable
contribution to the appreciation of African music to re-issue these
classic works. We were fortunate in that one of the partners had
a connection to Mensah; another to Franco.
The first ET Mensah compilation, All For You (RETRO1LP)
was released on vinyl in 1986 and ET was enticed out of retirement
to play a comeback concert in London. This was followed in 1987
by the Franco & OK Jazz release, Originalite(RETRO2LP).
Franco was enthusiastic about releasing the original OK Jazz recordings
on RetroAfric and entered into the spirit with his subsequent
album which began with the cry 'Retro Non-Stop'.
These first two vinyl releases have since been remastered and augmented
by extra tracks to bring them up to CD length. The second Mensah
release, Day by Day (RETRO3CD) was the first CD release
on the label and since then all releases have been available in
CD format only.
Inspired by the response to these early releases, RetroAfric
dug deeper into some rare African grooves and unearthed more classic
material which has moved generations in Africa - the original
'Land of a Thousand Dances'. Concentrating on popular
hits of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the emphasis is on dance,
romance and ambience, generated by artists whose influence
was truly pan-African, reaching far beyond national boundaries,
often to Europe and America.
RetroAfric was always intended to be a MID-PRICE
label with CDs currently retailing in UK at £10 + VAT, although
shop price is at the retailers' discretion and some obviously believe
our products are good enough to be sold at a slight premium. We
often work in collaboration with the National Sound Archive,
part of the British Library, London, which makes a copy of
all the tracks for their International Music Collection. They cannot
market the material but it is available for private listening, and
it is catalogued in this definitive archive. The Archive also has
several tracks available for private listening which we were unable
to fit on to CD releases.
RetroAfric international distributors
- France: Socadisc, Germany: Rough Trade,
- Benelux: Munich
- Switzerland: recurred
- Italy: RID
- Scandinavia: Bonnier
- Australia: Fuse
- New Zealand: Southbound
- Canada: EEG
- USA: Sterns US
- USA (retail): Dusty Grooves