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: Copies of Francisco Aguabella's 1977 album "Hitting Hard" are not only extremely hard to come by, but also suitably pricey when they do come up for sale online. Fret not - Dynamite Cuts are here to help. They've decided to reissue two of the Afro-Cuban jazz/funk fusion set's most potent track, thus saving us the need to fork out the best part of 800 pounds. A-side "Ramon's Desire" - a cover of a Ramon Robes song - is suitably breezy, jazzy and positive, with glistening guitar and vibraphone solos combining wonderfully with a soulful vocal. Flipside "Casa Fuerte", on the other hand, is an all-action, high-tempo Afro-Cuban jazz dance treat, with high-octane piano solos rising above a Tito Puente style rhythm track.
Review: Although best known as the lead singer of well-regarded Japanese funk-soul band O.A.S.B, Amy Akaoka has long dreamed up recording a salsa album in the style of '60s and '70s pianist and bandleader Larry Harlow. This tasty two-track 7" single is her first release in the style - the album will appear later in the year - and is as summery, breezy and life affirming as you'd expect. She begins with "Tu Jamas", where male backing vocals, jaunty pianos and her own passionate lead vocal ride a sweat-soaked salsa rhythm. Turn to the B-side for the horn-heavy delight that is breezy salsa shuffler "Solo Tu Amor". Naturally, both are hugely authentic to the style of salsa championed by Harlow.
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: German imprint Pingipung has been doing a great job in re-introducing the world to the music of Umeko Ando, a Japanese folk singer who spent decades championing her native Ainu culture before passing away in 2004. Pingipung has already reissued her rare debut album, 2000's "Ihunke", and here gives a deserved first single release to that set's closing track, "Atuy So Kata". Her beautiful and haunting original version - all handclaps, traditional instrumentation and her sublime vocals - nestles on the A-side, with Patric Catani's remix on the flip. His version is drowsy, foreboding and fuzzy, with the remixer expertly mixing Ando's vocals and instrumentation with crunchy electronic drums, psych-rock guitars and all manner of out-there noises.
Review: Comprised of Uhuru Dance Band members Ebo Taylor and Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, The Apagya Showband only delivered a handful of releases but they're all worth digging out. Mr Bongo have started the excavation with these two 1974 vintage licks; "Tamfo" is concentrated uplift with big horns and an unescapable highlife guitar lick. "Mumude" is a deeper, drum-heavy jam that switches suddenly with the help of big organ splashes and sermonised spoken word.
Review: Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords. A rare and long-awaited reissue.
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: 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.
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: For a brief period between 1968 and 1975, Peruvian band Black Sugar recorded some seriously heavy fusions of soul, rock and jazz. It's because of this that both of their self-titled albums now exchange hands for eye-watering sums online, as does their 1971 debut single "Viajecito". Helpfully, Matasuna Records has done a deal to reissue the latter. The track itself remains a rare treat; a gloriously sunny, horn-heavy fusion of Latin jazz rhythms, spacey sounds, jaunty group vocals and twinkling pianos. B-side "Too Late", a sumptuous, boogaloo-sounding soul number in which the group sings in English over a Blackbyrds-esque backing track, is similarly impressive.
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: Two more rare grooves purloined from Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul and delivered on a sweet 45: Celia's "A Hora E Essa" is a steamy Latin funk workout from 72; all horns, cuicas and soft, honeyed vocals. Franco's "Ei, Voce, Psiu!" takes a more US funk idea with Franco's spoken vocals giving off a strong air of bandleader as the band lock down a tight groove beneath. Watch out for samba flip towards the end. Blink and you'll miss it.
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: Jane, Roberto, and Sidey Morais - Brazil's Os Tres Morais - are placed alongside the wonderful Claudia for the latest all Brazilian showdown courtesy of the always point-side Brazil45 series from the Mr. Bongo label. The latter gives us the mythical "Garra", a tune that sits very nicely next to the likes of Marcos Valle and co, and the singing trio get a reissue of 2006's "Freio Aerodinamico", a gorgeous blend of samba, disco, and something perfectly exotic and vintage. Heart-warmers.
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: 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: The Brazil 45s / Mr Bongo outlet is back with its classic moves, coming through with some truly special soul blends out of the Brazilian golden era. Dalila and Neyde Alexandre feature in this latest 7", the former with 1968's "Canto Chorado", a slow-burning bubble of funky exotica - surely impossible to find in its original shade - and the latter with a funky little bomb from 1971 by the name of "Perplexidade" - surely the smoothest, sexiest soul number out this week! Lovely stuff.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a must-have seven-inch containing two curiously off-kilter cuts from obscure "beat generation" bands of the early 1960s. Der Evergreens "Es Lilin" (that's "Ice Lolly" in English, apparently) is a sun-kissed rhythm and blues cover of a Sudanese love song recorded in Rotterdam in 1965. It's fairly short but very, very sweet. Arguably even better is Les Jaguars De Casablanca's 1962 cover of surf classic "Gonzales". The band was truly international - Spanish and French guitarists and a Moroccoan rhythm section - and on the resultant recording you can tell. Think of it as an "outernational" take on the Shadows, and you're close.
Review: "Der Say Ah" has long been a banger on dance floors tuned into international sounds. It's the sort of bouncy afrobeat and sax-laced classic that has been fetching huge amounts online. DJs like Gilles Peterson and Nightmare on Wax have been playing it for yonks and now, after many years of it being out of print, it is back courtesy of Push The Fader. The Akoya Re-Rub mix here was mixed by Ben Kane who worked on D'Angelo's Black Messiah, so this sounds beyond good. The 7" version comes from DJ Spinna with extra keys from Ticklah, psyched out bass and extra dub feelings.