1970s Taarab from Mombasa, Kenya and Tanga, Tanzania

Today's post features six 45s of prime early 1970s Taarab from Kenya and Tanzania.  There is a considerable body of literature on this era of music and all I know about it I have learned from Kelly Askew and Werner Graebner--he is the man behind, or at least associated with, virtually every international release of Swahili Taarab music.  If you enjoy these recordings I strongly urge you to dig into their work, especially the Zanzibara series of CDs that Werner has put together for Buda Musique.

These 45s were released between 1970 and 1974.  They feature the Orchestre Morning Star with singers Matano Juma and Zuhura Swaleh from Mombasa, the Kenyan Taarab star Malika, the Lucky Star Musical Club from Tanga, Tanzania with singers Shakila and Asmahan, and, also from Tanga, the Black Star Musical Club with singer Amina.

Taarab 45s

I have sequenced the tracks according to my musical tastes.  I have tagged all of the files with the discographical details (label, catalogue number).  I prefer the Mombasa to the Tanga Taarab.  The Orchestre Morning Star's deep groove on 'Wakasi', the first cut, foreshadows grooves that groups like the Tindersticks would build their career on thirty years later.   The first Malika cut, 'Pelela' has a solid Chakacha beat that just does me in.

If you enjoy these recordings check out this classic compilation of Tanga Taarab, as well as these wonderful posts from Likembe and Worldservice.  I have shamelessly, or shamefully, depending on your point of view, stolen this beautiful picture of the Orchestre Morning Star from the cover of this essential compilation of Mombasa Taarab.  This compilation is worth buying for the liner notes alone!! 


  1. Hi there, I had the chance to discover some great african music on your VOA blog years ago. This is where I heard for the very first time L'Harmonie Voltaïque and Volta Jazz, who remain two of my favorite bands today. I look forward to hear inspiring music on your new page. Merci!

    P.S. I happen to be living not far from Tanga for a year. I've allready looked around for african 45s, with very little succes (for now!). I'll be listening carefully to the Lucky Star Musical Club though.


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