Review: The 3rd Generation Band hail from Ghana, recording only six tracks in their time together, all for the Essiebons label and now Mr Bongo reissue these two super rare tracks. The life affirming Afro Rhythm & Blues of "Because Of Money" was also featured on Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilation previously. It was compiled by Andrew Edwards. The band was formed in the late 70's by leader Rockson, a soldier at the time. The original record is extremely rare and this reissue is a replica 7", including the original picture paper sleeve that was carefully restored by Andrew Edwards. B side track "Obi Ye Saa Wui" is African style soul-funk, very influenced by James Brown.
Review: The UK's Mr Bongo has been reissuing old music and putting out new tunes since the late 1980's, and the label is still going strong in 2015. This latest 7" features two of Ethiopia's greatest musicians, Alemayehu Eshete and Mahmoud Ahmed, in a head to head, split EP. On the A-side, Mr Bongo has resurfaced Eshete's "Tchero Adari Negn", a supremely funky piece with the man's own voice gliding effortlessly over hard drums and fuzy guitar riffs; "Bemim Sebeb Litlash" goes deeper and more psychedelic on the flip, and Ahmed's voice is a pleasure as always. Check their other material on Mississippi for a broader introspective.
Review: Altin Gun are the hottest property to come out of Istanbul in the last ten years. Fact. Led by Jacco Gardner, the 7-piece outfit specialise in the deepest, most wild-eyed psych funk available at the moment and this was clearly visible from their recent debut LP, On. A similar narrative continues here, one which resonates so well with the traditional sound of 70s Turku-funk from pioneers such as Erkin Koray or Baris Manco, and there is, quite simply, something very honest about this band. O this new 7" from the banging Bongo Joe we have "Tatli Dile Guler Yuze", a seductive vocal groove filled with aptly trippy guitar funk and Merve Dasdemir's sublime voice waving in the distance, and the quirky sounds of the instrumental cut "Hababam" - making this one of Bongo Joe's best EPs to date, and another proof-point for Altin Gun's quality. Highly recommended.
Review: Another weighty slab of Ethiopian music history from Mr Bongo... First up is the hugely influential fusionist Mulatu Astatke with the Latin-meets-Afro jam "Assiyo Bellema". Loaded with frenetic guitars and mesmerising drum work from Frank Holder, this was actually recorded during Mulatu's time in London. Flip for an equally influential force in Ethiopian music: Soul Ekos Band affiliate Teshome Meteku with a more traditional local sound, Teshome's yearning insistent vocals wrap around the horns and tight drums like fog around a mountain. Captivating.
Review: Awesome Tapes From Africa surely scored one of the best reissues this year with the vinyl and CD edition of Obaa Sima, a quite startling album from Ghanaian musician Ata Kak that covered highlife, rap, pop, and more. The fact the discovery of the original tape was ATFA founder's Brian Shimkovitz original reason for starting the label made it all the more special. With copies of that album no longer in press, Awesome Tapes From Africa have tempered demand with a series of 12" releases featuring cuts from Obaa Sima. Here the title track makes the transition, pressed nice and loud at 45rpm (do try it at 33 too for a different vibe), whilst the slower electro funk-edged bliss of "Adagya" lines the B-side.
Review: Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band first came through on Sublime Frequencies, back in 2015, with a sublime LP that carried the ethereal sounds of contemporary Afro jazz. The outfit are back, this time on France's Mawimbi imprint, with a corker by the name of "Wasso". Taking inspiration from the school of Fela and Tony Allen, this is deep-minded funkiness with a political edge - a contemporary afrobeat killer! The remixes are no less intriguing, starting off with the electronic nuttiness of Loya's version, followed by the 'broken', beat-driven remix from Mr Boom, and even an Afro version. A done deal, in our opinion...
Review: Afro 45's / Mr Bongo show no signs of stopping their tireless run of form and, 7" after 7", they just keep on producing the goods. There's yet more '70s goodness with this new little scorcher: the A-side is 1973's "Tessassategn Eko" by Bahta Gebre Hiwot, a pensive Ethiopian pop hit for all sorts of music fans to enjoy, but "Ayalqem Tedqem" by Alemayehu Eshete on the B-side is where it's at... just listen to that bass and you'll instantly recognize this wonderful little cover.
Bar Konon Mousso (Musicien C'est Pas Quelqu'un) (Ben Gomori N'est Pas musicien edit) (8:00)
Massa Kamba (Ben Gomori's Massabbatical edit) (9:11)
Review: This officially licensed 12" sees prolific British disco producer Ben Gomori take a scalpel to two cuts from veteran African musician Amadou Balake's 2015 album, In Conclusion. On side A you'll find a fantastic, eight-minute extension of the breezy shuffler "Bar Konon Mousso (Musicien C'est Pas Quelqu'un)", where snaking saxophone solos and sun-kissed, juju style guitars rise above a hot-stepping, bass-heavy groove. Turn to the flipside for a thrillingly epic take on "Massa Kamba", a deeper and slightly more musically intricate cut blessed with a blissful; Pat Metheny style jazz guitar breakdown, memorable chorus vocals and evocative horn lines.
Review: For the latest release on their on-point Brasil 45s sub-label, Mr Bongo takes a trip back to 1977, and the early days of legendary fusion outfit Banda Black Rio. Both the cuts here are taken from the band's brilliant debut album, Maria Fumaca, and see them fusing Brasilian samba and jazz sounds with the righteous, dancefloor-friendly grooves of funk and disco. "Maria Fumaca" itself is a deliciously sunny and sweaty affair, with punchy horns, eyes-closed guitar solos and jazz-funk electic piano lines rising above a carnival-ready samba-funk groove. The U.S funk influence comes to the fore more on flipside "Mr Funky Samba", which sounds like Azymuth jamming with members of the T.K Disco, Philadelphia International and Salsoul house bands. Yep, it's that good.
Miele - "Melo Do Tagarela (Rapper's Delight)" (instrumental) (4:10)
Review: Although Brazil's Banda Black Rio remain infamous for the albums that they recorded in the late 1970s, two beautiful LPs that rode that singular wave of samba-ridden jazz dance, 1980's "Miss Cheryl" is an outstanding tune, and we can hear why RCA picked it up back in the day. Mr Bongo provides us with the reissue here and, if you haven't heard it, it's an absolute delight which switches between disco, psych, and something inherently Brazilian - there's even a wacky synth in there, for good measure. Compatriot Miele appears on the flip with "Melo Do Tagarela (Rappers Delight)", a sublime slice of early, electronic boogie that sounds as fresh today as it did back at the tail end of the 70s. A devious little reissue that you should own...
Review: Puerto Rican music legend Ray Barretto has a seriously impressive biography, including spells with the Tito Puente Orchestra and the acclaimed Fania All Stars. This tasty seven-inch single serves up one of Barretto's best boogaloo-era cuts, 1968 single and Acid album track "Mercy, Mercy Baby". It remains a fine song, wrapping a jaunty salsa rhythm in various boogaloo aural hallmarks, including impassioned vocals, funk-influenced horns and an incessant piano riff. Interestingly, this edition doesn't feature the original single B-side, but rather a previously unissued instrumental version. Shorn of the vocals and pop production, it feels breezier and heavier, with additional trumpet solos that will wind their way into your subconscious.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: According to the South American fusionists who run Names You Can Trust, Buyepongo is one of the leading lights on the Los Angeles "tropical underground", a scene known for fusing traditional rhythms and instrumentation with more streetwise contemporary influences. The two cuts showcased here were recorded in an analog-rich New York studio, and are apparently particularly popular with the group's Los Angeles fans. A-side "Por La Vida" is a real killer - a jaunty, dub-fuelled Cumbia outing rich in dancing accordion lines and Tito Puente style percussion. Flipside "Miri" is way more tropical in tone, doffing a cap towards the Caribbean and low-slung 1960s psychedelia whilst remaining close to the band's South American roots.
Review: Brazil 45s hit the quarter century in their run and show no sign of stopping. It's an all-girl affair on this one as two hugely popular and prolific singers take a spin under Mr Bongo's spotlight. Elizabeth (often known as Elizete) lays down a steamy samba flavour that gets raunchier as the track develops. Elza, meanwhile, gets busy on a Bossa tip as a carnival of percussion and horns go toe-to-toe with her sharp, sexy staccato vocals. Powerful.
Review: Moving further into the '70s Brazilian scene, Mr Bongo delivers two supreme pop scorchers by Celia, the sweet-faced artiste who released so much great music back in the day. Her "Na Boca Do Sol" is a gentle soul journey that brings out the best in her own voice, and in the Brazilian style of that era. "A Hora E Essa" is more of a dancefloor tune, more uptempo and less reliant on the sensuality and sexiness of the A-side. Excellent, as per usual.
Review: Supreme musica popular Brasileira and bossa-nova vibes here on two tracks from Mr Bongo's leading Brazilian 45's lady, Claudia. "Deixa o Morro Cantar" features on Claudia's very first 7", released in 1965 by RGE Brazil. Her version of "Mas Que Nada" is said to be more of a jazzy/folk-funk take on the Ben classic. A relatively recent discovery made during the label's last trip to Brazil, Maria das Gracas Rallo was born in 1946 in Rio de Janeiro. She has become the most awarded singer outside of her home country and was most popular internationally in 1982 with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita. Moreover, she has recorded over twenty albums and has amassed huge record sales throughout her successful career.
Review: Not to be confused with the sports commentator, David Coleman was behind the scorching boardwalk vocals that graced Hector Rivera's debut 1966 album At The Party. The right levels of swoon and croons over vital Latin orchestration - led by the renowned pianist and regular Tito Puenta collaborator - David exudes some serious emotion. "Drown My Heart" lilts with a soft samba while Coleman scatters powerful heartbreak tales, "My Foolish Heart" takes a much more stripped back rhythmic arrangement with yearning, soaring strings that break out into the full orchestra on the chorus. Both cult attractions on the northern soul and popcorn scenes, it's another hearty reissue from them up north.
Review: Colonel Faat aka Rocky Dawuni is one of Ghana's few reggae artists to have made a name for themselves since the 90s. He is particularly hard to come by these days, but Austria's Agogo imprint clearly know how to get their links form around the globe, and this new tune is a peaceful ballad for purely positive vibes. "Balantije" is one of those tunes you can slap on in just about any scenario, spreading love and good will wherever and whenever, guided by a subtle ska off-beat; Mankoora's remix takes it to more danceable territories, adding in a layer of percussion and just the right amount of funk. Yes.
Review: Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella follow up last year's beautiful "African Spirits / New World Shuffle" with two more lavish instrumentals. "Sun Song" lives up to its name with wave after wave of heated musicianship from the belting harmonies to the light-touch keys. "Nigeria" taps deep into the source too as it drives us through the heart of Lagos with full horns and sweeping keys. Spiritual, sun-splashed and vital.
Review: Last spotted on wax together 16 years ago on New Standards, Italian kindred spirits and diggers Conte and Petrella collide once again. A culmination of many records savoured and ideas shared between the two friends, this 12" is long overdue and fizzes with fusion. "African Spirit" is focused on a rolling tribal MAW style house rhythm with Gianluca adding his signature trombone with staccato finesse while "New World Shuffle" is a much dreamier, smoky affair that sounds perfect any time between sunset and sunrise. Spiritual.
Review: Together, Cyril Yeterian and Cyril Bondi is Cyril Cyril, a Geneva-based duo with their own unique brand of mind-altering global fusion. That much is clear from this debut 7", which delivers thrills and spills in spades. Check first "Colosse De Rhodes", where spoken and improvised vocals rise above a psychedelic backing track rich in meandering Bontempi organ solos, restless banjo chords, and incessant, off-kilter African percussion. The flipside cut, "Sayyara", is equally inspired, with the two Cyrils brilliantly layering up swamp funk guitar solos, held-note organ chords, gentle Turkish rhythms and woozy atmospherics.
Review: Southern Italian sort Giovanni Damico has been in a good run of form of late, as anyone who picked up his recent EP on Lumberjacks in Hell with confirm. This retro-futurist three-track excursion is rather fine, too, with the White Rabbit Recordings founder brilliantly joining the dots between jaunty Afrobeat, rubbery boogie and spacey electrofunk. All three tracks boast classic Afro-funk guitars, with killer A-side "To Fela's People (featuring Villy)" also boasting punchy horns, tactile synth bass and some life-affirming hip-hop rhymes. Over on the flip, "Baba" is a more traditional Afrobeat workout - albeit with the addition of some mind-altering analogue bass and vintage synth flourishes - while "Afro Stomp" is a bouncy, Baldelli-inspired chunk of Afro-cosmic disco.
Review: Sampled by everyone from J-Lo to Jay-Z, Manu Dibango's 1972 classic is perhaps one of the most influential and heavily referenced afrofunk tracks of all time. Echoing with shades of every genre we know and love today, it still sounds just as timeless, infectious and ultimately agenda-setting today as the first time you heard it. If your collection doesn't sport this original yet, now is most certainly the time.
Review: Those with a deep knowledge of Berlin's Ghanaian ex-pat "burger-highlife" scene may already be familiar with Lee Dodou, a singer who recorded a number of classic singles and albums during the 1980s as part of bands Georg Darko and Kantata. He retired from music in 1991, but has been persuaded to return to action by the Philophon team. This comeback single is pretty impressive all told, with A-side "Basa Basa" - a triumphantly celebratory chunk of 1960s "concert party" highlife rich in punchy horn lines and Dodou's full-throated vocals - being joined on the flipside by the slower, synth-laden "Sahara Akwantou". Brilliantly, the label describes this as "kraut-life" due to its unique (and rather good) fusion of highlife and German kosmiche.
Review: vKeen Africa 45 followers should recognise Eshete's name as he's appeared on the series before. Mr Bongo call him the Ethiopian James Brown and the Abyssinian Elvis... And they're not far off. This 74 rarity shows him crooning and crying at full pelt over a solid funk groove that's powered by piano and guitar. Flip for an equally rare vocal track from fellow Ethiopian Girma. Recorded in 69, full focus is squared on the lavish organ leads while the horns provide a soft but sturdy backdrop.
Review: Following their surprise reunion and Strut-release album We Be All Africans last year, Idris and The Pyramids return... This time on Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint. Laying down a spiritual arrangement so frenetic and full of its own life it takes up two parts, Idris's sax plays duet with Philophon's own vocalist Guy One. Gutsy, raw and full of surprises, it's another out-of-body experience from the longstanding jazz troupe.
Review: Four years on from their last outing, Japan's premier neo-Afrobeat band returns to the warm embrace of Soul Garden Records. A-side "Scarface" is arguably one of the band's most addictive and ear-pleasing tracks yet; a rousing Afrobeat workout that sees band members trading solos over a densely percussive, Fela Kuti style workout. In a bid to let us have a bit of a breather, flipside "This Day" is a more languid and laidback affair, with drunken trumpet solos and jammed-out keys relaxing over a shuffling, Afro-Latin groove. As ever, the playing is immaculate and the production authentically fuzzy. Worth a listen.
Review: Nu-wave afrobeat swingers, Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra, touch back down on Masamichi Ishikawa's Soul Garden, and they have arrived just in time for what we hope to be a blazing hot summer of joyful Fela vibes. In fact, these guys have cited Kuti as their main inspiration - which is always a good thing, in our opinion - and the title track "Bomb" is clearly of that ilk, unleashing a driving bass surrounded by wild chanting and a little disco sensibility. On the flipside, "Panama" provides a deeper, cooler edge that's much more in line with Kuti's work alongside the Afrika 70 band, with booming horns guiding the jazzed-out percussion. LUSH!
Roger Damawuzan - "Loxo Nye" (Pushin Wood remix) (5:39)
Napo De Mi Amor - "Cacatchoule "Berceuse Bassari"" (3:04)
Sewavi Jacintho - "Miade Dua" (5:35)
Review: Hot Casa's latest must-have release is a veritable smorgasbord of Togolese treats. It focuses specifically on obscure soul music made in Togo in the 1970s, with two hard-to-find original cuts being joined by two contemporary re-edits of similarly obscure classics. The EP opens with Bosq's smooth, dancefloor-focused tweal of Yta Jourias's breezy, horn-heavy tropical soul workout "Adome Nyueto", before Pushin Wood takes over and adds a little contemporary electronic bounce - and some particularly colourful synths - to Roger Damawuzan's "Loxo Nye". Over on side B, Napo De Mi Amor's "Cacatchoule Berceuse Bassari" is a fuzzy soul shuffler rich in bright, Juju style guitar solos, hazy vocals and Hammond organ stabs, while Sewavi Jacintho's "Miade Dua" is a sweatier and heavier concoction powered by loose-limbed drumming and sun-kissed instrumentation.
Review: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.
David Tapfuma - "Magamba" (Esa Zimtronix Direct mix) (5:19)
Review: This compilation style outing from Southern African music enthusiasts Nyami Nyami is billed as "an ode to the music of Zimbabwe past and future". Side A boasts cuts from two Bulawayo-based "Kwela" outfits: a terrific, heavily percussive future dub interpretation of Bulawayo Kwela's "Mysterious Africa" by The Comet Is Coming producer Danalogue, and the sparse, sun-kissed acoustic bliss of Elliot Phiri's "Nomalanga". Turn to the flip for two versions of Hararre-based David Tapfuma's beautiful "Magumba". There's the original version, where Tapfuma sings over a solo mbira melody, and a superbly glassy-eyed, synth-heavy 21st century club version by Auntie Flo collaborator (and hugely talented producer) Esa Williams. As good as the rest of the EP is, his version is worth the admission price on its own.
Review: Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel pay homage to the heartland with this beguiling album. A deep trip up and down the amazon, hopping off as and when they see fit, the album sees them paying homage to Latin standards such as "Fruta Fresca" and "Manduco". Rebuilding them electronically with, no doubt, a fair few classic synths in the mix. From disco to blues with just a touch of Latin folk magic, it's yet another unique and vital trip from the Los Charly's Orchestra lads.
Review: Time for some Brazilian psychedelic boogie straight from 78. Erstwhile lead singer in Os Mutantes, with a personality thrice as big as the soaking wet bassline on "Agora E Moda", Rita Lee is no stranger to her motherland - even now. Flip for a huge soul injection courtesy of Pete Dunaway. Sounding English in every direction (from his name to his lyrics to the stunning, string-coated arrangement) he's actually Sao Paulo born and is a renowned multi-instrumentalist. Check this and you can tell in an instant. Stunning.
Review: Wanna hear the Isley Brothers classic "It's Your Thing" given a Latin shakedown? Mr Bongos have got you covered on the latest 7" in their splendid Latin 45s series! Originally issued back in 1974 on TR Records, this Los Africanos cover is a rum heavy Nu Yorican funk-soul instrumental featuring screaming Hammond organ and FX. It's very expensive in original form now, so shout outs to Mr Bongos for pressing it up here along with an equally good 1968 cover of instrumental, boogaloo version of Eddie Floyd's all-time classic "Knock On Wood" from Machito & His Afro-Cubans.
Review: Two delicious freeform rhythm jams from the heart of Bogota; Los Propios Bateros (AKA drummer and percussionist Pedro Ojeda) is the result of a deep documentary project that plots the rhythmic thread through the Americas as a cast of Columbian's next generation musicians explore the national legacy of descraga and pornpo across two warm and seductive improvisations; "Batazo Batero" swoons with a little light jazz in its step while "Bolillo, Baqueta Y Tombo" is more of a loose funk riff that writhes in and out of the tight staccato trumpet riff. Sublime as always from Names You Can Trust.
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
Review: Surely one of the most fitting albums of the summer, Sabrina Malheiros's fifth LP Clareia undergoes some stately remix treatment as we move from open fields to sweaty clubs to party for the rest of the year. Three of broken beat's finest and most respected protagonists all play a role... Man of the moment Henry Wu gets woozy on the organs and widens the whole jam out into seven minutes of space funk, Dego and Kaidi Tatham's 2000 Black dig deep into the bossa dynamic with a Latin jazzy spiritual feel running throughout the momentum while CoOp founder IG Culture adds a little skip to the drums, dreamy plucks and bassline that won't stop bouncing. If it's bruk, don't try and fix it.
Review: Fresh from '78: Brazilian funk lothario Marcelo's first big single (which was never out on a 45 before)- and a peak track from his debut eponymous album from the same year - gets a timely revisit from the Steven J's reissue/edit imprint Pepite. With its subtle piano striking Q&A, wild bass runs and clam-tight guitar/drum groove, Marcelo calls his way through the jam as if everything is a chorus. With its layered vocals, it's gutsy call to action for any dancefloor. Steven's edit stretches out the instrumental bars and brings out focus on the staccato vocal hook with a rising sense of momentum. Two great sides, one dope 45.
Review: Two powerful bossa nova workouts from 1972: Brazilian chanteuse Rose Maria delivered two incredible funk jams on Tapecar which escaped her prolific album releases and never enjoyed a repress. Until now... The Afro-Latin soul of "Deixa Nao Deixa" is all about the sudden dynamic from purring verses to emphatic, harmonic chorus while "Avenida Atlantica" takes a more straight-up funk route with its dominant horns and heavy boss break. Instant party material.
Review: Sammy Massamba's "Azali" originally came out in 1990. The afrobeat artist's sound is shockingly potent, fusing his roots with disco and boogie to create the stuff party dreams are made of. The song has just the necessary edge to make a classic, with the vocals leading the way through the tune beautifully. "Birika" is a slower jam, but no less bold with its keyboard brass and choice guitar solo. Aroop Roy jumps on the flip to edit "Azali", stretching out a touch and adding a little subtle drum machine jack to the beat. It's tastefully done, keeping the vibe on the original intact.
Review: Destination mid 70s Nairobi where Madagascan guitarist Jimmy Mawi was laying down some serious vibes... Signed to EMI's Pathe imprint, he released three singles during his career which have all since faded to obscurity. Until now. Dusty, garagey and steaming with raw blues fusion, it's hard to deny any parallels to Hendrix as Mawi expresses himself with a rough heartfelt frenzy. Highlights include the Zep-level smoked out soul of "Blue Star Blues" and the insistent drive and reverbed out faraway vocals on "Black Dialogue". Another exemplary Afro-funk find from Soundway.
Review: Cuban bandleader, composer and rumba magician Ramon Santamaria had a huge influence throughout his 40 year career, notably writing Coltrane's famous "Afro Blue". Here are two of many stand-out cuts from his 1963 album Watermelon Man! While most the album's focus was on his Herbie Hancock cover, it's tracks like these that really gave the album its spirit and unique character; "Yeh Yeh!" is a samba shaking horn-led cut laced with crackling percussion and party cries while "Get The Money" leans back with rhythm and blues sass and a rhythm that's as powerful as Ramon's legacy. Moneymaker shaking guaranteed.
Review: Having previously excelled at crafting party-starting bootleg funk remixes and composing revivalist soul slammers, Mr Bird has now decided to turn his attention to Afro-disco, Afro-funk and Afro-soul. Typically, the results are impressive, particularly "Dance Away", a hybrid Afro-disco/Afro-soul workout featuring the fine vocals of Chief Commander Yaaba. Elsewhere, he lays down a subtly housed-up take on Clavinet-happy Afro-funk (the superb, jazz-funk tinged "Floating Funk"), brilliantly breaks up the beats on the woozy, groovy and bustling "Carnival Beat", and lays blissful vocal harmonies over a sumptuous deep house beat on "The Sasquatch".
Review: Mukatsuku's long running "Afro Funk & Disco Gems" series has always been a reliable source of obscure, high-quality dancefloor material from the African continent. This tenth edition is another must-have - on the A-side you'll find the synth-laden, boogie-era sunshine of "Everybody Dance", one of the undisputed highlights of Peter Yamson's in-demand (and notably hard to find) "Son Of Africa" LP. With wonderful vocals, glistening guitars, lolloping drum machine beats and some stellar synth work, the track ticks all the right boxes. Over on the flip there's a chance to own Cameroon legend Tala Andre Marie's 1981 classic "Get Up Tchamassi", whose snaking sax lines, elastic slap bass and dreamy chords are nothing less than sensational.As played by The Allergies, DJ Koco, Joe Claussell,Smoov,Kalita, Faze Action,DJ Moar etc
Review: Johannesburg's Maboneng Precinct is the home of Afrosynth Records and for the last two years it has been an absolute hotbed of reissued African music. This latest missive is originally from 1984 by Obed Ngobeni and his backing singers the Kurhula Sisters, who helped pioneer the Shangaan Disco style that heavily influenced South Africa's bubblegum sound of the 80s. Now a go-to genre for cult favs like Antal and Hunee, they're sure to lap up the hurried funk and proto-house of "Ta Duma", which comes in three slightly different versions. "Xikhobva" closes things in loose percussive fashion with a guitar-driven groove.
Review: Cuba's Manana Records launches via a fine EP from Obbatuke, a eight-piece rumba outfit fronted by renowned quinto player Carlos Guerra. The band are apparently regulars at the legendary Casa del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba, a venue widely considered to be the beating heart of the Eastern rumba scene. Musically, the five tracks here mix typically high tempo, densely percussive rumba rhythms with chanted vocals. The lack of other musical instruments is startling, but takes nothing away from the tracks. In fact, it only enhances their back-to-basics charms. It proves beyond any doubt that it's the drums that make great dance music.