Beauties: Vinyl LPMLP202
Label: Mississippi Records
Release Date: 16th June
Charming AF swinging Ethiopian jazz record, the vocals on 'Beauties' are so enticing, they hug the rhythm of these tracks, they complement the lofi melodies of jazz keys and soulful woozy horns to create a record that is really difficult not to be delighted by.
A lost classic of the Ethiopian Golden Age, reissued in full for the first time!
On this 1976 gem of a record, Aselefech Ashine and Getenesh Kebret’s voices intertwine in close harmony, the two “beauties” singing in duet across 10 gorgeous tracks. The Army Band, which backed greats like Tlahoun Gesesse and Mahmoud Ahmed, brings Mulatu-esque minor-key piano runs, interlocking percussion, and rock-steady basslines. Arranger Teshome Sisay’s flute winds through the compositions, tying together gloriously woozy horns. The greatest elements of Ethiopia’s Golden Age combine here, in one of the final records of the era.
Aselefech and Getenesh were raised in the bustling cosmopolitan world of late-empire Addis Ababa. They met at the Hager Fikr Theatre, the legendary center for art and cultural learning in Addis, where they were trained in centuries-old vocal techniques as well as acting.
BEAUTIES was a hit, selling out upon its release in 1976. But its glory was short-lived. The Derg Regime was imposing strict crackdowns on music and artistic expression. Targeted as allies of the deposed Emperor Haile Selassie, the artists (and most musicians) had to keep a low profile. For two decades, nearly all recording and live music would cease in Ethiopia. This is one of the last great releases of the Ethiopian Golden Age.
Though she was never able to release a second record, Aselefech Ashine is proud of her work. From her home in Addis she says: “I have full confidence that this album will be popular and a hit when it is released again now!”
This album, long in the works, is released in collaboration with the artists and the mighty Domino Sound of New Orleans. Newly remastered vinyl comes in old-school “tip-on” jacket with lyric translations, photos, and an interview with Aselefech Ashine.