19/04/2019: “Mama Matotoya” by The Mombasa Vikings

The Mombasa Vikings were the house band of the Mombasa Reef Hotel in the 70s, so called because of the location and due to a recognition of the hotel’s heavily Nordic clientele.

The song was released in a limited run of 45s and often sold to guests of the hotel, but was re-issued in 2018 by Afro7 in Finland.

The song is unbelievably vibrant, positively fizzing with energy and colour. The percussion section is a brilliant jumble of Chakacha-inspired clattering drums and other little shakers, rolling forward in a supremely funky fashion.

The bassline tangos up and down in time with those drums, keeping the song groovy, in tandem with the distinctive two part guitar chords which crop up so often in African music.

On top of that, there’s a powerful organ, played very adeptly throughout much of the song. Adept as the playing is, it isn’t quite as impressive as the soaring flute solo, a prime example of the impact jazz flute can have.

There’s also punchy vocals at the start, in Swahili, with a very cool “Ya” shout punctuating the otherwise free flowing words.

The song was first released in 1975, and was also featured on Soundway’s 2013 compilation Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & ‘80s.

So much talent!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *