World Music Network is pleased to announce the release of an exclusive re-issue of Soul On Fire by Maloko. The quirky album was first released in 1988 and has been a rare record to get hold of ever since. Now it is available as an accessible download only album allowing listeners to enjoy the sound of seven American soul standards set to swinging soukous style. Kicking off with a version of ‘In The Midnight Hour’, the album covers other classics including ‘Stand By Me’, ‘Soul Man’ and ‘Cold Sweat’.

The band came together under the direction of Ibrahim Kanja Bah, a US-based music producer originally hailing from Sierra Leone. To lead the group he recruited Cameroonian guitarist and arranger Vincent Nguini, who grew up with the rippling reverberating sounds of Zairean pop and soukous that were popular across West Africa. After his work on Soul On Fire, Nguini went on to become guitarist in Paul Simon’s bands and appeared on four albums including Rhythm Of The Saints, the follow-up to Graceland. Other band members included Syran Mbenza best known for his involvement with Quatre Etoiles and Kekele and widely acknowledged as one of Africa’s best guitarists.

The album kick-started a medley mini-trend and remains a dance-floor filler when played by DJs in the know. Popular for its tongue-in-cheek party flavour, it was also a novel album in the way flipped the trend for innovating African pop to make it more accessible to international audiences. Instead of altering African styles to make them sound ‘more Western’, this time a collection of all-American classic sides were soukous-ified so to speak.