Tony Von ‘Nuala ni Lumbi’ (Rebita, early 70s)
Well, this one has to be short and sweet. And, truth be told, there’s not a lot I can tell you, as information on Tony Von is scarcer than hen’s teeth. I know he was still around on the last decade, performing on revivals and nostalgia-infused shows, and some online reviews bill him as one of the great Angolan singers of the past, but other than that, nothing.
I can’t even get a discography in order as the only other known track of his is ‘N’hoca’, the b-side on this very single, issued by Rebita with ref# 1068, probably in 1972 or 1973. ‘N’hoca’ was included on the “Soul of Angola” compilation (subtitled “Anthologie de la Musique Angolaise 1965/1975” and released by Lusafrica as a double-CD on 2001) but not a word about Mr. Von on the liner notes. I hope somebody comes forward with some info!
But the purpose of this blog is to spread the music while sometimes waiting for the narrative to come together. And ‘Nuala ni Lumbi’ is too glorious a track to remain unheard. Right from the bass intro you get the whole melodic picture; the leading vocals, the call and response chorus (“He is Tony Von! He is Tony Von!”, the band sings); the syncopation; the catching guitar counter-melody; all seem a reaction to that handful of notes. Tony, subdued but with palpable bravado, has his way with the song, a semba number with an impressive percussion arrangement (listen to the congas and the double rhythmic shaker mid-through!) and the expected Congolese influence on the electric guitar. He’s really just Tony Von!
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