Among the rash of charity singles released in the 80s to raise awareness and money for the people of Africa, only one actually featuring African artists made an impact internationlly.
"Tam Tam Pour L'Ethiopie" was the B-side of the charity single "Starvation," releasd on Zarjazz records in 1985. The A-side is a remake of a song by The Pioneers, a reggae group particularly popular among the English 2Tone artists. Indeed, musicians from the Specials, English Beat, Madness and UB-40 were the primary participants in the remake. It's an OK song, but I prefer the original.
The B-side, however, is pretty spectacular. Produced by Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango and recorded in Paris, the song features the participation of continental superstars such as King Sunny Adé, Hugh Masakela and Youssou N'Dour. It also includes lyrics in French and four different African languages.
I dare you to listen to it and not get chills down your spine as you listen to the complex musical interplay, intricate rhythms and rich harmonies. This is everything that defines African music in less than seven minutes.
Though not a hit in the United States,"Starvation"/"Tam Tam Pour L'Ethiopie" reached the UK top 40.
Play "Tam Tam Pour L'Ethiopie"