Review: Nigeria's Tee Mac has been a digger's favourite ever since his tunes came out in the 1980s, and alongside the likes of Willian Onyeabor, he has been one of the driving forces behind his country's afro-rock and afro-beat mania. France's Hot Casa have masterfully put together a compilation containing his best tunes, originally out on the Party Fever LP. This is all quality, but just to give you a little taster, you have the inimitable funk destroyer that is "Nepa",Tee Mac's notorious "Talk To Me" bombshell - a tune that verges closely to proto-house - the sublimely washed-out "Stay On Me", and the painfully hummable swings of "Wake Up". Recommended.
Review: Recorded in New York in 1966, Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata" - her first for the legendary Reprise Records imprint - has long been considered one of the most important and influential South African albums of all time. Strut certainly thinks so and has offered up a "definitive version" that contains both mono and stereo mixes of the album, alongside new sleeve notes that tell the singer's remarkable story in vivid detail. Musically the set is rooted in jazz, but also incorporates sounds, rhythms and instrumentation not only reflective of Makeba's home country, but also nods to American soul, Latin rhythms and calypso (the latter showcasing the influence of her mentor, Harry Belafonte).
Stephen Colebrooke - "Stay Away From Music" (4:28)
Andre Marie Tala - "Sweet Dole" (4:32)
Tyna Onwudiwe - "Lite Low" (4:04)
Rebles - "Sweetest Taboo" (Soca version) (3:26)
Ricardo Marrero & The Group - "And We'll Make Love" (2:31)
Koko Ateba - "Si T'es Mal Dans Ta Peau" (4:03)
Sookie - "Tonight" (feat Jeannine Otis) (4:58)
Raphael Toine - "Femmes Pays Douces" (5:40)
Eboni Band - "Desire" (5:09)
Robert J Riggins - "I Need You Now" (4:06)
Salero - "Teardrops & Wine" (3:07)
Momo Joseph - "War For Ground" (4:13)
Claude Genteuil - "Dreams Of Love" (3:00)
Gatot Soedarto - "Sayangilah Daku Kasih" (1:46)
Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language - "Pasto" (5:51)
Review: Since the Beach Diggin' compilation series launched a few years back, a number of its obscure, Balearic-minded selections have been given full length reissues of their own. We can probably expect a number of the tracks from this brilliant fifth volume to get the same treatment. As usual, the wide-ranging track list is thick with highlights, from the synth-heavy, French language reggae of Raphael Toine's 1986 bubbler "Femmes Pays Douces" (taken from the artist's frustratingly hard to find Ce Ta Ou album) and vibraphone-laden jazz-funk smoothness of Yasuko Agwa's sought-after "L.A Night", to the barely-known brilliance of Andre Maria Tole's Cameroonian gem "Sweet Dole". In other words, it's another essential selection.
Review: When it came to putting together their first compilation, German label Harmonie Exotic turned to Balearic scene mainstay Jose Manuel. His idea was simple: to gather together a range of mostly obscure experimental ambient tracks made between 1982 and '84, all of which possess equal amounts of "magic" and "mysterious character". The resultant set is, of course, a bit of an eye-opener - a genuine voyage of discovery that drifts between the low-slung, dub disco influenced headiness of D-Day's "Sweet Sultan", the drowsy new age purity of Vangelis Katsoulis, the glistening Balearic pop of Human Software's "Soft Sequence", the sludgy Arabic new wave oddness of International Noise Orchestra and the unique combination of Middle Eastern drums and next-level electronics that is Manuel Wandji's "Pourquoi Pas!".
Review: Over the years, Cesar Mariano and Cia's 1977 set "Sao Paolo Brasil" has achieved cult status, with dusty-fingered diggers regularly proclaiming it one of the finest jazz-funk/fusion albums of the period (a fact confirmed by the high prices that original vinyl copies often change hands for online). Remarkably, this timely Mr Bongo reissue marks the first time the set has been released outside of its native South America. Rich in glistening jazz guitars, fizzing, Azymuth-style organ riffs, spacey synths, warm bass and skittish drums, the album's eight tracks bristle with breeziness, subtle samba motifs, sumptuous dancefloor grooves, sunny downtempo workouts and effervescent arrangements. In a word: essential.
Review: Back in 1976, legendary highlife artist Pat Thomas decided to throw his weight behind Ghanian three-piece Marjarita. Thanks to his patronage, they made quite an impact with their debut album (Pat Thomas Introduces Marjita), before striking gold with their killer follow-up, This is Marjita. Since then, the album has become something of a "holy grail" for Afro-funk collectors, with copies changing hands for astonishing sums of money. Happily, Mr Bongo has decided to license and reissue it. The album contains four superb workouts: the hard funk brilliance of "Break Through", the organ-heavy Afrobeat fuzziness of "No Condition is Permanent", the reggae-influenced wonder of "I Walk Alone" and the superior highlife of "We Live in Peace".
Judy Carter - "Listen To The Music" (12" version) (5:57)
Janet N'Diaye Lokamba - "Funky & Fire" (4:53)
KKE - "Money" (4:03)
Caramel - "L'amour Toujours L'amour" (12" version) (5:56)
Yannick Chevalier - "Ecoute Le Son Du Soleil" (instrumental) (4:06)
JEKYS - "Looking For You" (4:26)
Silence - "Un Peu D'amour" (3:40)
Wally & Shane - "Give Back My Song" (3:47)
Zorgus - "Flash" (3:36)
Joel Dayde - "Qu'est Ce Que Tu Fais Par Amour" (3:29)
Review: For those intrigued by the distinctively Gallic but authentically American-sounding world of French disco-boogie, Charles Maurice's ongoing compilation series should be essential listening. Here he serves up a third instalment that's every bit as good as its' acclaimed predecessors. Highlights naturally come thick and fast throughout, from the mid-80s dreaminess of Maya's undeniably Balearic "Lait De Coco (Dub)" and the Brenda Taylor-ish bounce of Judy Carter's brilliant "Listen to the Music", to the Leroy Burgess style piano stabs and Patrick Adams-ish disco production of Caramel's "L'Amour Toujours L'Amour". Oh, and the late night radio warmth of NST Cophies' "Segregation", a sweet, undulating workout that will no doubt find favour with Balearic selectors.
Jonathan Jr - "Hangin' On To You" (12" version) (5:33)
Isabelle Mayereau - "Orange Bleue" (2:27)
Oro - "Sasa" (3:42)
Fernando Toussaint - "Recuerdos Del Abuelo" (3:04)
Todd Mcclenathan - "High From Our Love" (5:08)
Mario Acquaviva - "Notturno Italiano" (4:22)
Special Occasion - "Flyin' To Santa Barbara" (12" version) (6:36)
Parenthese - "Come Back" (4:03)
Russ Long - "Never Was Love" (4:35)
Pacific Dreams - "Mellow Out" (4:19)
Miller Miller Miller & Sloan - "Key To My Heart" (2:39)
Scott Cunningham - "Blues Take You Over" (3:31)
Review: On his fourth exploration of the world of global "Adult Oriented Rock", French crate-digger Charles Maurice focuses on the period between 1977 and '86. That means a greater emphasis on synthesizers, dusty drum machines and the kind of sparkling melodies that would once have drifted from daytime radio at an alarming rate. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the dewy-eyed synth-soul of Arlana's "When You Call My Name" and the breezy boogie of Omega Sunrise's "Too Hip", to the sparse Balearic bliss of Isabelle Mayereau's "Orange Bleue", the flute-laden easy listening hum of Fernando Toussaint, the sax-happy '80s sleaze of Special Occasion's brilliant "Flyin' To Santa Barbara" and the jaunty Latino jazz-funk of "Mellow Out" by Pacific Dreams.
Review: Far Out has decided to pay tribute to one of Brazilian music's most overlooked - and, let's face it, obscure - talents, Ana Mazzotti. She recorded just two albums in the 1970s before passing away from cancer in her early 30s a few years later. Both of those album have become sought-after, particularly 1974 debut "Ninguem Vai Me Segurar". This first ever reissue proves why. Warm, breezy and effortlessly soulful, it sees Mazzotti and her backing band sashay between languid samba-jazz, intergalactic bossa, soft-focus Brazilian soul and the kind of attractive jazz-funk/fusion that would later become the hallmark of Azymuth (not much of a surprise since two of that band's founder members were part of Mazzotti's backing band).
Review: For Brazilian music collectors, the two 1970s albums by sadly departed vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ana Mazzotti have long been must-have sets. Listening to Far Out's new reissue of the second of those, 1977's self-titled "Ana Mazzotti", it's easy to see why. The album is warm, woozy and groovy, joining the dots between slick and summery samba-jazz, synthesizer-laden bossa-nova, Azymuth style jazz-funk/fusion (see the delicious and laidback "Sou") and the kind of atmospheric, otherworldly deepness rarely heard in Brazilian popular music during that period. Highlights are plentiful throughout, with "Cordao", the spacey and up-tempo "Eta Samba Bom" and languid "Bairro Negro" among the many standout tracks.
Review: South Africa's Letta Mbulu has put out a vast amount of quality material in her lifetime, and although the singer was based far away from Europe, her music was picked up by the London massive during the mid '80s at clubs like Dingwalls and featured heavily in the rare groove digs. The opener "Sweet Julu" is now a London two-step classic, while other tracks like "Nomalizo" or "The Village" are more on the disco side, all of them filtered with a distinctly tropical edge! A top reissue!
Original Nairobi Afro Band - "Soul Makossa (No 1)" (7") (4:20)
Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes - "Jungle Beat (Mutaba)" (3:05)
Review: Jump 'N' Funk started life as a small event in New York, organized by Rich Medina in order to pay tribute to the genius of Fela Kuti. Since then, parties have been held across the world, with Medina and guests showcasing music by, or inspired by, the Nigerian Afrobeat legend. This debut Jump N Funk compilation follows a similar formula, delivering both purist Afrobeat cuts (see Fela's punchy "Stalemate", and "Na Oil" by son Seun and his band, Egypt 80), and tracks in other styles that draw heavily on the style. Highlights in the latter category include the hazy Afro hip-hop of Aquil, a tasty Afro-house dub of River Ocean's cover of Timmy Thomas' classic "Why Can't We Live Together", and the lazy, sun-kissed glory of Kutiman's "Bango Fields".
Review: '70s Arabic psychedelic funk, courtesy of Hany Mehanna on this reissue by Belgian retoverts Radio Martiko. An Egyptian musician and composer, Mehanna played as a young, talented organist next to stars like Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez and was a member of Ahmed Fouad Hassan's Diamond Orchestra - one of the country's finest. Up to this day he still writes for various Arabic artists and composes scores for Egyptian movies and series. This is (according to the label) a 'belly dance holy grail from the organ king of Cairo.. as good as it gets!' Originally released in 1973, 'The Miracles of the Seven Dances' is a work of pure genius that combines traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. Hear a blissfully exotic mix of hypnotic organ grooves, psychedelic guitars, mystic strings and haunting percussion.