Horst Wende, Africana!, Strand SLS-1024, 1961
To my knowledge, Poland never got around to colonizing Africa, meaning the entire continent was forced to begin human culture and civilization without much of a Polka tradition. It appears that this album was intended to remedy that situation. From the bejeweled cover model to the bizarre landscape scene where mountains become waterfalls and rainbows appear below grasslands. It’s obvious that this album is as African as the Royal Cape Town Yacht Club.
With song titles like Zambezi, I was under the impression that this was an African import licensed for US release by the budget Strand Records. After all, there’s no artist credited on the record anywhere, so who’s to say really what this is. I should have known better. I already knew that once a band records an instrumental piece, they can call it whatever they like. But it’s a real stretch to try to sell a twist polka record as traditional African music. At least I know that when I listen to this record, I’m the only one on Earth doing so (outside of Krakow, Malawi that is).
But that sort of trickery seems to have been the business model for Strand Records. They started as an actual record company, but when that didn’t immediately work, they became the epitome of the slimly New York budget label. Obviously, artists would never be paid for any sales they made on Strand, but it’s how they would churn and burn the customer that is probably worse. I imagine that this was a German or Polish record that Strand got their hands on and re-released without any credit to the artist. Both Lawrence Welk and Bert Kaempfert had #1 records in 1961 with music that sounds like this record, but to hide their tracks, Strand came up with the Africana ruse. Anything to make a sale after all, right? I was briefly captivated but this record’s cover at a 50% off sale, so that old Strand magic still works.
Cost: $4, $208 Remaining