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Samba Mapangala & Orchestre Virunga | Virunga Volcano

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Virunga Volcano

by Samba Mapangala & Orchestre Virunga

Classic East African dance music: rumba and soukous topped off by the sublime voice of Samba Mapangala. Sorry, CDs are now out of print but downloads are available here on CD Baby. All proceeds go direct to artist.
Genre: World: African- East
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Malako
Samba Mapangala
9:08 $0.99
2. Ahmed Sabit
Samba Mapangala
9:25 $0.99
3. Virunga
Samba Mapangala
8:58 $0.99
4. Yembele
Samba Mapangala
10:08 $0.99
5. Neliya
Samba Mapangala
9:29 $0.99
6. Mansita
Samba Mapangala
6:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"This CD changed my life. I found it in a bargain bin with no idea what it was i bought it on a whim. It led me down a whole new path in my life, including a degree in ethnomusicology. After hunting for years since, I have still never found a CD quite as sublime as this perfect record date. I have made so many people from so many diverse backgrounds and tastes literally get up on an end table or sofa back and dance like fools. I really am serious. Met Samba at one point in central illinois while he was touring the US , and he is a sweet open person, somewhat confused that this kid from IL was singing along through the show in Lingala without understanding a thing i was saying. Buy it new. I bet you make more money than Samba if you are surfing here. He deserves more." (Chicago, IL, 2004)

Jaik Willis's Comment from Myspace:
"I've never heard a better record in any genre than Virunga Volcano. It changed my life, and that's no exaggeration." (5/7/08)

Now available on download! Super extra classic from
1984! Rare and out of print on CD! Samba Mapangala and
Orchestre Virunga's Virunga Volcano, first and
greatest hit outside East Africa!

From the CD liner notes (1990):
The outstanding features of the music on Virunga
Volcano showcase Samba Mapangala's flawless soaring
vocals with excellent support from Fataki, the
spellbinding interplay of the guitars, the rippling
rhythms of the bass which underpins the group's sound,
and the sensational virtuosity and soulfulness of the
sax playing.
Golden-voiced Samba Mapangala, Kenya's greatest rumba
artist, was born and grew up in the Matadi region of
Bas Zaire, in the 50s. He suffered a hard childhood
with both of his parents dying while he was still very
young. Soon, however, Samba's outstanding vocal
talents wre recognized and he performed with a number
of Kinshasa bands during the 1970s. His musical
influences included church music, Zaire's ever-popular
rumba sounds, as well as western rock and blues. In
1975 he formed his group, Les Kinois (The Kinshasa
Boys) and set off on the difficult journey by road to
Uganda, where they stayed for two years. In 1977 the
group finally settled in Kenya, but broke up after
three years. 1980 saw Samba set about forming
L'Orchestre Virunga.
Orch. Virunga (named after a volcano in Zaire) quickly
established an enthusiastic following in Nairobi, with
a residency at a club. Within a short while their fame
was to spread throughout Kenya and neighboring
In the early '80s the remarkable and compelling songs
featured on this album were recorded at a session
which astonished even the group. Somehow the
combination of these musicians, the songs, and the
ambience of the recording studio transcended all
expectations and resulted in this brilliant collection
of tracks. With vocals sung in Lingala (a Zairean
language) and Swahili, the main influence on this
music is the sensual rumba sounds of Zaire. (Rumba
comes from a fusion of local guitar styles and a 50s
and early 60s influence from Latin American, mainly
Cuban, records.) Added to this was the originality of
Samba and his group as well as an inspiration from the
music of his new home, Kenya. Generally, Kenyan music
has a more direct, earthy guitar sound.
The album was a huge hit in many parts of Africa. ...
In 1985 the group embarked on an extensive tour that
covered Kenya, Zaire, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
Major difficulties had to be overcome including the
poor quality of roads or sometimes the lack of proper
routes, a scarcity of spares for musical equipment, a
shortage of promoters with suitable venues, and the
all-important finance. Additionally most musicians can
not afford to own their own instruments and have to
rely on clubs and promoters to supply them. There is
no shortage of good music, merely facilities....
The songs on this albums are about personal
relationships, family responsibilities, and also
having a good time. Enjoy the volcanic excitement of
Samba Mapangala and Orchestre Virunga!
--Trevor Herman, January 1990

From liner notes of original British (vinyl) LP
release, 1984:
The first time that I heard this record was in London
three years ago, then I went to Nairobi. The first
night in town I found the Starlight Club, on stage I
found Virunga. It was wonderful to ask my favourite
band if they did requests. They said "yes" and I
requested the contents of this album. If you want to
know why I went to hear them that first night and
returned every other night--buy this album! I wish the
honey-voiced Samba and his immaculate band my best
wishes for the success of this record in the U.K.
--Ben Mandelson

1. Malako (Last Wish)
Composed by Samba Mapangala
My mother's last wish ("malako") before she died was
for me to look after my young brothers
My father died too and things got really difficult
Without money we could not get enough food or spend
time at school
These were hard times and we made some mistakes
But we didn't let things get on top of us and we never
gave up hope

2. Ahmed Sabit
Composed by Samba Mapangala
Ahmed, let's talk
I hear people saying that you are angry with me
You shouldn't be, I care a lot for you, you're like a
brother to me
But people are stirring things up and trying to drive
us apart
Ahmed, don't listen to them, Virunga is your band as
well as mine and we should stay friends
We have been through a lot together, we have been
apart for a while
But right now I'm happy to see you again

3. Virunga (Name of volcano)
Composed by Samba Mapangala
Here comes the band!
Every morning in Kinshasa people listen to the news on
the radio and hear about what's happening in the
Now I hear that the Virunga volcano is erupting and
causing chaos
This band will soon erupt with music!

4. Yembele (Confusion)
Composed by Samba Mapangala
If you hear rumors check things out for yourself,
don't rush to conclusions
A friend (Musioka) advised me not to be too influenced
by women and to remember what happened to Adam and Eve
Samba himself has been accused in court over money due
to musicians
He asks that the matter should be resolved within the
family and suggests that the case arose because of a
woman's interference
As a result a long friendship has been destroyed
Why can't there be peace and understanding in the
world instead of confusion and strife (yembele)?

5. Neliya (woman's name)
Composed by Bansilu Wa Bansilu Maniju
I want you to be my lover forever
I like the way you are so much
If there is no jealousy between lovers then that is
not true love
If I go with another woman I am only testing your love
I really wish to marry you

6. Mansita (musician's name)
(Composed by Sammy Mansita)
I was sleeping the other night and I dreamt that you
were kissing and playing with another man
The cock crowed and I woke up feeling bad and

All tracks produced by Justus Musyoka Kasoya

Personnel: tracks 1-4
Samba Mapangala: Lead vocal and conductor
Fataki: Vocals
Lawi Somana: Lead guitar
Manicho: Bass
Rodie: Sax
Atei: Sax
Shabani: Drums
Kalvin: 2nd guitar, Malako, Ahmed Sabit, Yembele
Loboko: 2nd guitar, Virunga

Tracks 5-6
Samba Mapangala: Lead vocal and conductor
Fataki: Vocals
Mansita: Lead guitar
Siama: 2nd guitar
Jhonyko: Bass
Lover" Machine": Drums



to write a review

CC Smith

Virunga Volcano
In one of the more dramatic moments in modern African music, Samba Mapangala's unadorned voice soars faultlessly for four lines at the beginning of "Malako": Baninga ya mboka oyo/Boyoka ni ngo malako a ye/Bakufa kala ba be bayembaka ngo balaka/Tika lelo tolanda ye. (Dear friends across this land/Listen to these words of wisdom/Left to us by our ancestors/Let us continue this legacy.) Then, on the cue of "Malako Disco," Orchestre Virunga erupts like its namesake volcano, forging ahead with the irresistible force of smoldering lava. The song tells of the last wish of Mapangala's mother, asking him to take care of his younger brothers.
Like Remmy Ongala, Mapangala was born in Zaire but established his musical reputation in East Africa. Also like Ongala, his music, sung in Lingala and Swahili, harks back to an earlier time in Zairean music. It too carries influences from the Kenyan side: nervous, ticking cymbals, nasal, tinny horn riffs, and bubbling guitars. But where Remmy's Franco-style guitar is his hallmark, it is Samba's voice--delicate, flexible and spot-on pitch--that makes this album a joy to the ears.
The first four tracks were released in England on a limited edition ep by Earthworks in 1984. Two additional songs, recorded with mostly different bandmembers, round out this cd. They all follow the characteristic two-part structure, starting out with a slow-burning rhumba and then kicking into an orgiastic guitar-driven frenzy.
Virunga Volcano is a treasure--I never get tired of listening to it. Having the album easily available in a new, improved version makes it all the more delightful. Highly recommended to all serious fans of African pop music.
--CC Smith, The Beat vol. 9 #6, 1990