Here's a crazy version of "Hey Joe" from Niger that was brought to my attention via the new Agrim Agadez comp on the Sahel Sounds label. The record gathers raw recordings of guitar music from the Sahelian region of Niger, showcasing folks we'd likely never get to hear, playing entrancing and often gritty sounds.
Led by guitarist Abdoulaye Bouzou (better known as Mona), Anza de L'Ader are a top act of Niger, formed in the 1970s. They are one of the heaviest psychedelic orchestras in West Africa. Many Muslims in the region were not accustomed to producing music in the '70s, and there were no studios to record in. But the group has persisted for decades. Their brand of ecstatic rock has links to Anza ritual music, brought into Hendrix-inspired repertoire. '60s psych-rock in the desert of Niger? It's no so far fetched. Taking a quote from Mona (found on Sahel's site):
“When the Europeans took blacks as slaves in the US, our ancestors who went there brought their culture with them. So they mixed their music with modern instruments, and they created the blues, and that invented rock n roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, everything. The blues comes from here. We sing, we cry, and it brings you just into the trance. We make Bori, we do Voodoo. Our ancestors brought this to the US. Little by little, it took in everyone.”
Composed in NYC by folkie Billy Roberts in '62, "Hey Joe" made the L.A. folk-rock rounds, thanks to The Byrds, Love & Dino Valenti, among others. There was a hit version by The Leaves in '65 and then Jimi Hendrix blew it up the next year. It has since become a rock & blues standard. With Jimi's popularity if Africa, no doubt there are hundreds of bands who have played it in the Motherland. This is a tasty one. At the very least it beats the Body Count version. But possibly not better than the Willy DeVille charanga/mariachi version.
Listen here, courtesy of Sahel Sounds.
Order the vinyl LP of Agrim Agadez or download the digitals here.
Purchase the only ever album of Anza de L'Ader here.
And check out this performance by Anza de L'Ader. Jaw-dropping!
And how about a bonus with "Purple Haze'?!:
TWISTED features left-field cover versions of popular songs.