Stukas at 12 O\’clock

Gaby Lita Bembo & Orchestre Stukas

Kita Mata ABC (RetroAfric Retro18CD, 2005)

Just as the first wave of Congolese pop music was relaxing into complacency,
with Kinshasa-based artists such as Luambo Makiadi Franco and Tabu Ley ‘Rochereau’
beginning to rest on their musical laurels, along came the New Wave, headed-up
by the amazing Lita Bembo and his youthful entourage. A string of exciting new
guitar-oriented bands were hot on the heels of the established stars and the
whole Zairean music scene was shaken up by their arrival. The easy-dancing rumba
sound of the old guard was updated, speeded-up, given extended guitar workout
sessions (these guys couldn’t afford expensive fat horn sections) and garnered
the generic term soukous although, in truth, this moniker was just the name of
one particularly popular dance style of the time. There was no finer performer perfectly adapted to this manic,
dance-at-all-costs, music. Bembo was an extreme and often hilarious showman. His
music accompanied the dance craze of the moment, often dreamt up by Bembo
himself and some of these dances from the band’s 70s – mid-80s heyday revelled
in names like Ekonda Saccade, Quatre Coins, Rapo Crapeau and Osaka Dynasty.

This is the first time anyone has seriously got to grips with the amazing
back catalogue of Kinshasa’s illustrious Stukas and long-time fan, RetoAfric’
label owner Graeme Ewens has done a great job, especially in terms of audio
quality, with Zaïrean music freak and Papa Wemba specialist Vincent Luttman on
sleevenotes. 9 tracks in all, taken from the period 1974 – 1983.