Music Review | posted 09.06.2021
Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band
Tezeta
Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2021
Text Martin Silbermann
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Cover Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band - Tezeta

The stream of reissues of African music of the 1970s, thought to be lost, just won’t stop. And so, after »Tche Belew« from 1977 and »Wede Harer Guzo«, together with the Dahlak Band, the first real album by Hailu Mergia is now being released. »Tezeta« was originally released in 1975 exclusively on cassette to financially support the in-house record store of organist Mergia and his well-rehearsed Walias Band. The nine instrumentals of classic Ethiopian standards and popular songs of the day were recorded at Addis Ababa’s Hilton Hotel, where Mergia and company performed as a backing band for many stars of the music business at the time. Although trumpet, saxophone and flute are also used as melodic instruments, Mergia’s organ is always the center of attention here, regularly stealing the show from everyone else. The more complex pieces thus become more accessible, even if European ears might wish for a bit more restraint in places. For the music scene of Ethiopia, Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band were absolutely formative and true pioneers in their field. Not only were their instrumentals heard on many of the country’s radio and television shows until the 90s. Also their independence from venues like theaters or hotels and their DIY approach with their own equipment and even their own label was something absolutely new at that time together with the use of foreign music styles. Thus, they served as role models for many Ethiopian bands, not only stylistically, but also strategically and financially.

Please find »Tezeta« by Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band in the webshop of HHV Records: ###HHV:816165 :Vinyl LP### | Tape
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