East African Music
I started collecting records on the African label in 1976 with two LPs purchased at The African Record Centre in Brooklyn (one from Tabu Ley 360.046 and the other by Les Freres Soki 360.064). After that, I purchased 34 more in the series that continued up to 1987. I'm not sure when the 360 series ended record production but it was probably about the same time SonoDisc launched the African 365 CD series in 1991.
The 360 series extends from catalogue number 360.001 to 360.168. However, not all of the records are on the African label. Twenty-eight LPs were on sister-label Fiesta Records. Nine number combinations among the 168 were apparently unused. The African label was exclusive to Congolese music while the Fiesta label handled other African artists (like Manu Dibango and Tala André Marie) and music from non-African artists (Latin and more).
The African and Fiesta labels were started for the distribution of African recordings controled and created by the Belgian company Fonior as part of The International Pelgrims Group (IPG). Initially, it was SOFRASON, Société Française du Son, that distributed the 360 series and that can be seen on some of the back covers included in the discography. Most of the albums in the series, however, bear the SonoDisc logo for distribution. The French company acquired the rights to the African and Fiesta catalogues in 1981 following the bankruptcy and dissolution of IPG. In some cases, there are two different designs for album covers as SonoDisc reissued earlier numbers in new packaging or at least replaced the SOFRASON labeling with SonoDisc.
In this discography, my goal was simply to collect the best graphics available for album covers, pair that with complete song listings and timings. A number of of people have worked at collecting this information. The most comprehensive is that compiled by Flemming Harrev on his Afrodisc.com (look under Central Africa Fonior). One of the earlier pioneers of African discography is Lars Fredriksson's Bolingo.org website. The Jama Rico wilki has a good start at a comprehensive gallery of images in the series. The GlobalGroovers.com blog features a good many African label albums, both audio and graphics. And the SonoDisc.net website offers their own listing of African and Fiesta label album titles and artists. Finally, Alastair Johnston provides an interesting essay on SonoDisc and the African series on his Muzikifan.com site.
One more note on my graphics,,, about a quarter of them are from my own collection. Others were "gleaned" from the Internet. For some, the images are quite scarce and poorly reproduced. Where possible, I straigtened skewed photos, removed discoloration, enhanced color and so on. In a few instances, I have outright "re-created" an image based on badly flawed images. For the latter, I acknowledge my mischief in the accompanying notes.
If anyone can provide missing images or improve the discography with better images, I would appreciate your help. Similarly, please let me know if you can provide missing information or see something that needs a correction. My email address is below.
To the 360 Series Discography...
East African Music
To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to dbpaterson(at)eastafricanmusic.com.
Last updated 17 June, 2017.