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Various Artists Living Is Hard: West African Music

With Living is Hard, the musicologists at Honest Jon’s have unleashed the best songs from EMI‘s archive of 150,000 78s documenting folk music from Africa and the Middle East, dating back a century. This disc, the series’ inaugural release, captures Britain’s underground West African music from the Roaring Twenties. It’s a fine snapshot of artists who never lost their connection to their homeland. The songs (sung in their native tongue) range from harmonious call-and-response tunes and gentle, Caribbean-style guitar ballads to humorous moments like Ben Simmons challenging someone to a fight. Add Honest Jon’s excellent remastering job and you’ve got a promising start to what looks like a great excavation of lost music.

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