Zazou Bikaye are reissued by Crammed Discs again – this time the seminal ‘Mr. Manager’ album with an additional bounty of unreleased recordings – it’s one of the most essential releases of this year

One of the most potent outernational combinations ever – Congolese vocalist and composer Bony Bikaye, French musician and producer Hector Zazou, with modular synth wizards CY1 – are thankfully reissued again by Crammed Discs.

The music is astounding and startling, thanks to Bikaye’s vocal performances and Zazou’s programming, inspired by the then-current electro-hip-hop fusion sound.

Following the acclaimed 2017 vinyl reissue of the Noir et Blanc album, Crammed Discs present a special edition of Zazou Bikaye’s second record, Mr. Manager, which came out on vinyl in 1985. This edition comprises nine additional tracks, including six previously-unreleased recordings, and three which were only included on limited-edition singles. The extra tracks are Viva La Musica (only released at the time on a 7” single) and Le Menteur (Mokosi), which was used as a basis for Vincent Kenis and Marc Hollander’s production of the afro-acid classic Na Kenda, but never released in its original form. Also included is Get Back (Longwa), a remix of another unreleased track, reworked in 1990 by Norwegian techno producer Per Martinsen (Syamese, Mental Overdrive, Gruesome Twosome), mixed by Kenis & Hollander, and released as a 12” on SSR.

Bikaye, Zazou and CY1 formed Zazou Bikaye and their debut Noir et Blanc was released in 1983 – a groundbreaking Afro-electronic experimental album.

In 1984, after the release of Noir et Blanc, Zazou Bikaye turned into a proper band and started developing their own special brand of digital Afrobeat/Afrofunk. Hector Zazou took on the task of writing and programming the music, and Bony Bikaye expanded his vocal repertoire and charismatic style. They set out to record a large number of tracks, five of which came out in 1985 as Mr. Manager, a 32-minute mini-album. The record was acclaimed when it came out on Crammed, also benefitting from domestic releases in Japan, and in the US (on Mark Kamins’ Pow Wow label). Zazou Bikaye played concerts around Europe and did two memorable shows in New York. Two of the tracks from Mr. ManagerAngel and Nostalgie – became underground club hits in the US and Europe.

The rest of the tracks were recorded at the same time, with additional sessions in 1986 and were intended to come out on a full-length album, but Zazou Bikaye moved on and eventually recorded and released the Guilty album in 1988 – meaning several cuts were left aside, unfinished. Only a couple of them ever came out, in remix form, but are included in this reissue.

For all of these 1985-86 recordings, other musicians included: Philippe de la Croix Herpin (aka Pinpin) on woodwinds, Tuxedomoon’s Luc van Lieshout on trumpet and harmonica, Vincent Kenis on guitar, backing singers Mwamba Kasuba, Nicole MT and M’Bombo K, and two percussionists – Chris Joris and Bigoune. Marc Hollander played a bit of sax and produced some of the recordings, alongside Hector Zazou, Vincent Kenis and engineer Gilles Martin.

The vinyl version will include eight tracks, plus a download card giving access to all 14 tracks. Cop it here.

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