Review: When a 12" turns up with a Ron Trent rework on the A-side, we tend to take notice. In this instance, we were particularly curious to hear what the deep house legend had done to "Krumandey", one of the standout cuts from Highlife legend Ebo Taylor's recent album, Yen Ara. Predictably, his version is superb, brilliantly joining the dots between Taylor's soaring Afro-beat, rolling Afro-house and Trent's own sumptuous deep house electronics. Turn to the flipside for two fresh revisions of "Mumduey Mumduey": a jaunty, sunshine-friendly tweak by Japanese producer Natureboy Flako and a heavy Afro-disco version by Nick The Record rich in bowel-bothering sub-bass and spacey deep house chords.
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: The moment you put that needle down on "Ye Mele" you will know that you've lit a serious firecracker; that bold piano hook and silver harmonies have that instant classic appeal even if you've never heard it. A bona fide Brazilian classic. It's backed by a 68 track from the Golden Boys. A much more introspective fusion of late 60s American folk, Latin and Ennio-style original score music, full attention is arrested right until the stunning crescendo finale.
Review: Formidably hard to find in its original form, Patience Africa's "Wozani" has finally been given the reissue treatment by La Casa Tropical. Those lucky enough to own a copy of the 1987 release - the South African singer's final EP - will note that this edition omits some tracks, instead offering loud cuts of just two (admittedly superb) jams. A-side "Hide & Seek" is a perfect example of the then developing Kwaito sound, with Patience Africa's strong lead vocal and "bubblegum" style synthesizer melodies nestling atop New York freestyle influenced beats and a chunky bassline. "By Hook Or By Crook", meanwhile, is closer in sound and feel to straight-up "bubblegum" synth-pop, with sugary-sweet vocals, "Glam" style triple-time beats and a more swinging electronic bassline.
What You Want To Be? (O Que Voce Que Apostar?) (2:09)
These Are The Songs (Esta E A Cancao) (2:59)
Review: Tim Maia's 1968 debut single, "What You Want To Be", has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered Latin music enthusiasts. Original copies, though, have long been out of the price range of most DJs and collectors. Happily, Mr Bongo has struck a deal to reissue it. The title track is something of a scorching dancefloor-treat - a boogaloo-era slab of Latin funk in which Maia and chums sing in English atop a bustling rhythm track and some seriously heavy horns. B-side "These Are The Songs" is a much more relaxed and laidback, samba-soaked affair, closer in tone to early 1960s U.S soul songs of the sort regularly covered by the Beatles early in the career.
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: Over the course of his lengthy career, Jimi Tenor has proved to be something of a musical chameleon, variously portraying himself as a lo-fi lounge music lothario, flute-sporting jazzman, Moog-loving electronic adventurer, dub-wise explorer and, most recently, Afrobeat eccentric. On "Vocalize My Luv", he fuses a number of his musical obsessions, by serving up a jaunty and righteous chunk of Ghanaian highlife futurism rich in dancehall-influenced drum machine beats, jammed-out Korg riffs and amiable female vocals. It's ace, and comes with a similarly sterling B-side, "Ki'igba". This shuffling affair sees Tenor reach for his trusty flute and get all jazzy over a dusty and laidback Afrobeat groove.
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: Kalita Records has thus far proved adept at sniffing out obscure, overlooked classics and reissuing them. Their latest "flip" is as rare, little known and hard-to-find as they come: a one-shot 1985 Caribbean boogie cut from Bahamian musicians Stirling March (now a minister and gospel singer) and bassist Rocky Rolle. "Under Cover Lover" is bright, breezy and sun-kissed, with jaunty synthesizer lead lines and hammered-out piano parts dancing above a tasty groove that fully showcases Rolle's boogie bass skills. Stirling March's lead vocal is superb too, with the Bahamian slickly delivering the loved-up lyrics with aplomb. The flipside "Instrumental" version is typical of New York style boogie dubs of the period, with more attention on the drums, bassline and ricocheting vocal snippets.
Review: The fourth volume in Selva Discos superb "Brasingles" series of overlooked Brazilian obscurities is another must-check treat. "Tudo Faz Santido" was originally tucked away on former Gang 90 member Taciana Barros' sole solo album, 1995's "Janela Dos Sonhos". It's a wonderfully chunky slab of rolling, mid-90s breakbeat-pop rich in beefy bass, new wave style guitars and twinkling electronic flourishes. The track's inherent heaviness is even more evident on the flip, where there's what appears to be a never-before-released extended mix by original producer Mitar Subotic (better known in electronic music circles as Suba and Rex Illusivii). The sadly departed Serbian's DJ-friendly take wisely prioritizes the groove, adding even more acid-style sounds for enhanced dancefloor pleasure.
Review: Sao Paulo's SELVAGEM drop a masterful double sider for Universal Cave 004. "Tudo Bem" is sunny, soulful AOR bliss. A tribute to a favorite Brazilian musician and an update for contemporary rotation. "Luanda" is hypnotic, psychedelic tropicalia. Truly digging deep, SELVAGEM give Universal Cave a taste of the Forward Deep & Free sounds of Balnearico from Brazil. Balnearico is the fusion of balearic and "balneario," the Portuguese word that is synonymous with beach.
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: In the early 1970s, a new musical art form emerged on the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from the social unrest of the time. A group of young guys started to combine poetry with drumming and created the musical art form that is known today as Rapso. Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba was one of the pioneers of this movement and his 1987 anthem "Tonight Is de Night" receives a much-needed reissue here on Cree. There's much to enjoy on this 12" - we're particularly loving the groovy "Rapso Space Dub" and funky steel drum riddims of "Crucial Decision ('92 Version)". This is total spiritual life music.
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: First up: Tito Puente (AKA The Musical Pope) with an epic live version of "2001 Space Odyssey". Recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1974 it's never been pressed to 45 during its highly sought-after 41 years. Flip for the hard jazz sounds of Sahib Shihab and "Om Mani Padme Hum" is riddled with thundering percussion and lightening crack pianos. It has flutes so frenetic they'd make Ian Anderson blush and takes its name from an ancient Sanskrit word. Biblical business.
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.
Tecumsay Roberts - "It Makes Me Dance & Sing" (5:44)
Commy Bassey - "We Want Togetherness" (4:37)
Review: Triassic Tusk's "Screamers, Bangers & Cosmic Synths" series of crate digging comps has seen the Scottish crew showcase some seriously hot, little-known music. Mukatsuku have joined forces with the imprint to give a 12" release to two potent Afro-disco smashers that recently featured on volume two of the ongoing compilation series ,now remastered and sounding better than ever. On side A you'll find Liberian artist Tecumsay Roberts' bouncy 1979 Afro-soul/Afro-boogie number "It Makes Me Dance & Sing", where spacey Moog solos rice above a funk-influenced dancefloor groove. On the flip, the fun continues via Commy Bassey's Clav-happy, Nigerian sounding Afro-boogie roller "We Want Togetherness", a positive plea for unity that's as relevant now as it was way back in 1980.Juno copies come in an exclusive branded card sleeve with an additional obi strip not available at other retailers .As played/charted by Red Greg,Joe Claussell,Marcel Vogel, Craig Charles,Faze Action,Kalita,Cedric Woo,JKriv,Prins Thomas,Floating Points and Dom Servini so far.
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Cosmic Echoes version) (4:51)
The Devil Made Me Do It (The Invisible Astral Wave version) (4:30)
Review: Like many drummers, Alex Puddu has long been inspired by the work of Tony Allen. He pays tribute to the legendary Nigerian sticks-man on "The Devil Made Me Do It", a sumptuous dose of groovy downtempo Afrobeat laden with Allen-style polyrhythms, Africa '70 horns and lashings of eyes-closed electric piano solos. On the flip you'll find two different interpretations from Puddu. The first, subtitled "The Invisible Cosmic", doffs a cap to the Afro-cosmic world of Daniele Baldelli while retaining much of the warmth and musicality of the original mix. "The Invisible Astral" version is an altogether more spaced-out dub, with Puddu smothering the drums and horns in copious amounts of tape echo.
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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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: Originally out in 1970 on his own self-titled album, Arthur Verocai's "Sylvia" is a peach of a song, one of those sweet and bubbly percussive tunes that blur the lines between modern civilization and the jungle. The Brazilian composer's music has been heavily sought-after in its original format, and Mr Bongo delivers here in fine style with another killer from the LP, "Na Boco Do Sol". Fans of Marcos Valle will appreciate this one for the slow magnetic waves permeating from just about every angle on the record.
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: 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: Original copies of T.Z Junior's bubblegum-boogie cut "Sugar My Love" are hard to come by outside of the artist's home country of South Africa. It's been that way since the single was first released on Roy B Records in 1985, hence this tidy reissue from the on-point Jamwax label. The title track remains a breezy, melodious, cheery and soul-flecked treat, with T.Z Junior delivering a brilliantly evocative lead vocal over bustling bubblegum synths, delay-laden machine drums and an inspired electrofunk bassline. "Are You Ready For Love", meanwhile, may not be quite as celebrated but is equally as impressive. It's the kind of sun-kissed "bubblegum" treat that would sound perfect blasting out of a soundsystem on a hot summer's day.
Review: DJ Gandharva and Von Yodi's long serving Budabeats label is always a trusted source for razor sharp disco digs and more esoteric sounds from the four corners of the earth, and they continue their recent leap to vinyl with this stunning selection of jams from the southern hemisphere. Letta Mbulu's Soweto funk gets a little edit treatment from Petko Turner, while BeTe takes on Camila Costa's gorgeous Ponto Das Caboclas for a perfect sundown reflection led by tender acoustic strumming. Chillum Trio work up a sweat over Ebo Taylor's "Odofo Nyi Akyiri Biara", creating a certifiable party burner in the process, and then Birdhouse completes the package with the irrepressibly funky "Berimbao".
Review: Exploring the sounds emanating from South Asia, Masaala is a new label with a fresh outlook. The first release features Manchester-based producers Raheel Khan and Adesi turning in some powerful edits that will appeal to anyone seeking invigorating sounds from further afield. Khan's twist on "Mast Qalandar" sounds like a striking version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Mustt Mustt". Adesi offers up the lions share of the edits though, channeling South Asian sounds through grooves ranging from the fierce disco stomp of "Sansani" to the low slung funk groove of "Nah Nah Nah". "Kammata" has a more dense rhythmic complexity at its heart, and "Kuchi Kuchi" collides traditional sounds with contemporary broken beat to brilliant effect.
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.