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Orchestra Super Mazembe

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With a varying line-up of between nine and 14 musicians, Mazembe (Zairois for earth movers) were one of the most popular Kenyan bands of the 80s, and for a brief while in the mid-80s enjoyed a cult following in Europe, following their signing by Virgin Records and the UK release of the album, Kaivaska. Although based in Kenya since the early 70s, the band’s personnel is wholly Zairean - it being one of several outfits that decided to leave the overcrowded Kinshasa scene in the late 70s to move to the greener East African markets of Kenya and Tanzania. Like fellow expatriates Orchestra Makassy, Mazembe have recorded their most popular material in Nairobi with British producer Norman Mighell. In 1984, they enjoyed a sizeable international hit with a cover version of Nguashi Timbo’s East African evergreen, ‘Shauri Yako’, which had been included on Kaivaska. A second UK album, Maloba D’Amor, repackaged some of the Kaivaska tracks - including ‘Shauri Yako’ - while new material included a curiously faithful reading of the old Buddy Holly hit ‘Words Of Love’ (the title track).

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