60s: Café -as evidenced in last weeks rebroadcast of Show #3 it was shown that Franco (& TP OK Jazz's) style of rhumba was much closer to 'traditional' rhumba during the 60s. Some songs such as Café had the singer singing in a lingala-spanish-portugese 'patois'. In this song (from what I gather of the patois) a man is picking up a woman. "Como te escriban Cafe?" (How do you write Café?) from that line I also gather that the woman's name is Café. Don't quote me on that though lol
70s:Radio Trottior - by the 70s Franco's sound was much more distinguishable from traditional rhumba and lyrically portrayed Kinshasa's social landscape with more accuracy. Franco's strength, next to being a band leader and superb guitarist, was his ability to write lyrics that the people could relate to. Radio Trottior (literally Sidewalk Radio) is about gossip and how it can cause problems if you listen to what people are saying on the street.
80s:12,600 Lettres - Franco received thousands of fan letters. A re-occurring theme within these letters was woman complaining that their sister-in-laws dislike and mistreat them. The hook goes: Bandeko ya basi yo yo yo yo balingaka basi ya bandeko mibali te mpo na nini; meaning 'Why do sister in laws not like their brother's wives?' After the song goes off there is a 'Debate' between Franco and his band members (men and women alike) discussing the subject of inlaws for approx. 12minutes. 12,600 Lettres Debat
Franco & Tabu Ley
These are just a mere three examples of Franco's lyrical prowess over the years. His prolific nature prohibits me from really delving into his collection and picking out songs to dissect because frankly it would take the span of Franco's career, so I just chose a few selections for today.
At the beginning of 1987, Franco recorded a song which is considered the most intense 15 minutes ever recorded. The song Attention Na Sida (beware of Aids) was sung mainly in French in order to reach a wider audience. Amid heavy drums and almost eerie guitars ,Franco thundered out an emotional message ,talking about the disease ,imploring mankind to be more careful in their relationships ,while urging governments to take further steps to fight the epidemic. Even for those who could understand what was being said, Franco's emotional, prophet like outburst sent shivers running through their spines.
October 17, 1989 Franco passed away from complications of AIDS. Franco is the face of Congolese music, which is a great source of pride for the Kinois and Congolese in general. He laid the foundation for Soukous and countless other artists and orchestras who also in turn made incredible music in the same vain as Franco. Franco IS ya miziki ya Congo and he is awfully missed. R.I.P. Ya Franco