While superstars in their home country of Benin (a small West African country sandwiched between Nigeria and Ghana), the TP Orchestre Poly-Rythmo have for the most part been forgotten in the annals of African music history. A few weeks ago while browsing through the Turntable Lab blog I found this amazing video among the various Tiesto appreciations and surfer dude videos and it prompted me to dig out the wonderful "Kings of Benin" comp that came out on Soundways a few years ago.
It is estimated that the TP Orchestre recorded over 50 LPs and 100 45s during the span of their career and after hearing their music one can't help but wonder how they have gone relatively unnoticed compared to many of their somewhat blander counterparts in nearby Lagos. Some people have theorized that it was harder for Francophone music to find commercial success in such close proximity to the thriving anglo markets in Nigeria and to a lesser extent in Ghana. Here are a few MP3s as well as a link to a few more tracks on the excellent Analog Africa blog.
In case you are wondering the TP stands for 'tout puissant' or "all powerful".