His Master’s Voice LON series
The Loningisa label was set up in Léopoldville (today Kinshasa) in the Belgian Congo in 1950 by the Greek retail traders Athanase and Basile Papadimitriou. They were encouraged by the guitarist Henri Bowane who had recorded previously for the Congolese Ngoma label and now doubled as A/R man for Loningisa. The recordings and the artists on the first hundred releases stand out as some of the most exciting from this era before the formation of the orchestras. The musicians recruited by Bowane included Paul Ebengo “De Wayon” and the future members of O.K Jazz including François Lwambo “Franco”, Edo Ganga, Victor Longomba “Vicky”, Daniel Loubelo “De La Lune” and José Philippe Lando “Rossignol “. When the studio musicians were asked to perform a live concert on 6th June 1956 they named themselves O.K. Jazz after the venue the O.K. bar.
As the Loningisa studio musicians turned into a regular live band the label almost exclusively featured releases by O.K. Jazz. This lasted until 1961 when O.K. Jazz left Loningisa. The label then turned to Victor Longomba “Vicky” and two other short-lived members of O.K. Jazz, Léon Bombolo “Bholen” and Dihunga Hubert “Djeskin”, who had set up a new band Negro Succès. The recordings with Negro Succès and with musicians who had worked previously for the by now closed Ngoma label were the last to be released by Loningisa.
78 rpm shellac discs
The catalogue begins with Loningisa N° 1 recorded in September 1950 and ends with Loningisa N° 401 recorded in May 1962 (four catalogue numbers – 51, 72, 126 and 142 were never used). The discs were released as 78 rpm shellacs manufactured at the Sobedi (Société Belge des Disques) factory in Ghent. Shellacs with “Made in France” printed on the labels were presumably manufactured in France to circumvent the tax imposed on imports to France’s African colonies. Later, Loningisa re-released some of the best-selling discs and had them manufactured in Great Britain in addition to new releases, using identical catalogue numbers but a different Loningisa label design for the pu. series.
His Master’s Voices’ LON series
Loningisa’s manufacturing contract with EMI in Great Britain, which also included a licencing deal for His Master’s Voice to re-release the catalogue for the West African market, seems to have gone through in early 1957 as the first production cards holds dates in February and March of that year for the arrival of the master tapes at EMI’s pressing plant in Hayes. His Master’s Voices’ LON series ran its own catalogue numbers beginning with LON 1001 and ending with 45-LON 1155, using OLBC matrix numbers for shellac discs and 7XLBC numbers for vinyl discs. Some of the later releases in His Master’s Voices’ LON series were manufactured in both formats as 78 rpm shellac discs as well as 45 rpm vinyl singles.
In 1960 EMI’s French branch Pathé stated to re-release part of the Loningisa catalogue on the La Voix de Son Maître label in the 7EMF and 7EGF series for vinyl EPs. Similarly His Master’s Voice in Great Britain re-released 7 vinyl EPs in the 7EN series. The Loningisa recordings, in particular whose by O.K. Jazz, were later re-released again on vinyl compilation albums by the Pathé-Marconi EMI (France), the African (Decca France), Disco Stock/Edipop (Côte d’Ivoire) and RetroAfric (UK) labels. In 2016 Planet Ilunga released a limited edition double vinyl album with 32 tracks re-mastered from the original Loningisa shellacs.
A wider selection of the Loningisa catalogue was re-released on 3 CDs by Crammed Disc as Roots of Rumba Rock Vol. 1 – Zaïre Classics 1953-1954 (Cramworld CRAW4 P1991), Roots of O.K. Jazz – Zaïre Classics 1955-1956 (Cramworld CRAW7 P1993) and Roots of Rumba Rock Vol. 2 – Zaïre Classics 1954-1955 (Cramworld CRAW10 P1995).
This re-constructed catalogue would not have been even near complete had it not been for Loningisa’s SABAM reporting sheets which include recording dates, matrix numbers, titles and names of composers. The SABAM reporting sheets can be downloaded from Stefan Werdekker’s Worldservice website LINK. I am equally indebted to Richard Noblett for allowing me to use his transcripts of the EMI production cards for the Loningisa pu. and His Master’s Voice LON discs manufactured in Great Britain and to John Cowley for sharing the lists with me in the first place.
The initial Loningisa label
Loningisa label “Made in France”
Loningisa label “Made in Gt. Britain”
His Master’s Voice – LON series 78 rpm shellac disc
His Master’s Voice – LON series 45 rpm vinyl disc
Page created 23/02/2014 © Flemming Harrev