posted originally in my old blog freedomblues and time to reappear
Although Ethiopiques kick off with a Muluken Melesse track and a couple more have sprang in the series,the man himself and his music remain relatively unknown to the rest of the world.An artist as important as Mahmoud Ahmed or Tilahun Gessesse during his heyday in the 70's, is "inexplicably" doomed to oblivion. Let's try to correct a little, this injustice:
Muluken Melesse was born in 1954 in northern Ethiopia's province of Gojjiam.After wandering extensively with his uncle,at the age of six they settled in Addis Ababa.The phenomenally precocious Muluken Melesse was just 12 when he began his singing career in 1966 at the Patric Lumuba night club.Like many vocalists of the period, he started off with the different Police bands, and went on to sing with the first non-institutional groups of those founded by nightclub owners(Blue Nile Band, Zula Band, Venus Band, Equators Band...)
Hedetch Alu" was the first song he recorded on vinyl at the beginning of 1972.
In a very short period of time his popularity soared sky-high. Backed by the Dahlak, Roha (as Ibex), and Ethio-Stars bands, Muluken has recorded from 1972 till 1976 a series of successful cassettes and records and in 1976 what was to be his last hit, Ney Ney Wodaje.
Muluken abandoned his career during the 80's to devote himself and his voice to the Pentacostal church and continued singing gospels occasionally .The magic was gone.
Wishful thinking among his fans regularly gives rise to rumors of a comeback,
but none has materialized.....
When Muluken Melesse came to the scene, he brought the Balager Sound,
the "Ethiopian Roots Music" of the rural villages in Ethiopia to cosmopolitan Addis Ababa , reversing the trend of simply aping Western music.
Muluken captured that essence and the entire feel of the "Real Ethiopia".
In Ethiopia's poetic tradition there are the sam-ennawarq (wax and gold) verses ,
songs that are apparently about love, but subliminally they level serious criticism at the rulers and political or social conditions.
Sam-ennawarq is open to so much interpretation
that listeners enjoy arguing all day for their exact meaning.An example from Muluken's lyrics:
Tenesh Kelbe Lay
Please, leave my heart alone.
Why don't you leave my heart alone?
I want to be free like other human beings.
Something which I don't understand.
What did I see that stung me so?
I have seen beyond beauties, but I have been stung still by your love.
Your love disarms me.
Everything looks so nice on her.
Her beauty is misleading.
I love the way you dance seksta, shaking your lovely neck and shoulders.
Saddle my horse, so that I can ride to her and drink deep of the feast of her love.
3 tracks have been added ,one was left out
Wax and Gold
with the great unknown Muluken Melesse.