Review: He may now be 72, but legendary highlife vocalist Pat Thomas still has the desire to make new music. In fact his previous set, 2015's "Pat Thomas & The Kwashibuu Area Band" - a collaboration with producer Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, storied Ghanian highlife bandleader Kwame Yeboah and musicians including fellow West African heavyweights Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor - is arguably one of the strongest albums of his lengthy career. This belayed follow-up is equally as inspired, with the golden-voiced Ghanaian vocalist providing the attention-grabbing focal point throughout. Yet while Thomas's vocals are as sublime as ever, it's the quality and detail of the accompanying music - a mix of laid back and dancefloor-ready highlife in the style he made famous in the 1970s - that really stands out.
Ondigui & Bota Tabansi International - "Wonderful For Ashawo"
Victor Chukwu - "Wonderful For Ashawo"
Review: Over the next couple of years, BBE is going to reissue more than 60 titles from the epic back catalogue of leading Nigerian independent label Tabansi Records. To wet appetites, the label has decided to offer up this deliberately eclectic sampler. It focuses on music recorded and released in the 1970s and 80s, giddily dancing between highlife, Afrobeat, funk, soul, disco, rumba and soukous. There's tons to get excited about, including Ebo Taylor's previously unreleased Afrobeat/highlife fusion jam "Make You No Mind", the synthesizer-driven deep boogie flex of Nkono Teles' "Love Vibration", the highlife/juju flex of Victor Chukwu's "Wonderful For Ashawo" and the horn-tooting cheeriness of Zack And Geebah's "For The Love Of Money".
Review: With so many archival labels putting out compilations of 1970s Nigerian funk and disco, Soundway has decided to change tack. Doing It In Lagos is a primer on the country's lesser-celebrated 1980s boogie scene. According to the superb liner notes, most of the music on show here - and, yes, it's universally brilliant - was created by a younger generation of musicians who wanted to move away from Afrobeat, and further towards an authentically American style electrofunk sound. As a result, many of the tracks featured on Doing It In Lagos - not least Hotline's brilliant opener, Livy Ekemezie's disco-funk slammer "Holiday Action" and Sonny Enang's superb "Don't Stop That Music" - are every bit as special as the American-produced records they were trying to emulate.
Review: According to Brownswood Recordings, Dayme Arocena took a conscious decision to opt for a more "stripped back" sound on her latest album, which marks her fourth full-length excursion for Gilles Peterson's admirable imprint. That's certainly the impression given by the opening track, "Nangareo", which sees the Cuban singer layer her own spoken and sung vocals over the sounds of lapping waves and moody, elongated synthesizer chords. It offers a striking introduction to an Afro-Cuban jazz set that smartly incorporates elements of both samba and the distinctive drum rhythms associated with her home country (as well as some superb chanted vocals). As a result, "Sonocardiogram" has an ear-pleasing vibrancy that encourages repeat listens.
Tony Antoniou - "Send In The Night" (instrumental mix)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness"
Banzai - "Runaway"
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the sublime Afro-disco brilliance of Bebe Manga, the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" and the South American disco swirl of Don Lurio's "Ruba Ruba" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Review: Favorite Recordings' superb Disco Boogie Sounds series continues. Following Waxist's recent exploration of French productions from the period, they've decided to drop a second collection of high-grade Brazilian material. Renowned crate-digger Charles Maurice has done a terrific job of gathering together dusty, obscure cuts that perfectly encapsulate Brazilian musicians' sun-kissed, soulful approach to disco and boogie. Highlights are naturally plentiful, and include the starry, jazz-funk tinged warmth of Christina Camargo's "Minas Do Rei Salomao", the Chic style brilliance of Almir Ricardi's "To Parado Na Tua", and the cosmic, horn-heavy leftfield disco thrills of Kaito's "Cara Feia".
Special Occasion - "Flyin' To Santa Barbara" (12" version)
Parenthese - "Come Back"
Russ Long - "Never Was Love"
Pacific Dreams - "Mellow Out"
Miller Miller Miller & Sloan - "Key To My Heart"
Scott Cunningham - "Blues Take You Over"
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: Edinburgh is perhaps not the place you'd look for authentic 1950s and '60s style New York salsa, but that's exactly where Grupo Magnetico earned their stripes. The collective regularly performed in a small cellar bar before cutting their first record, which was released last year by Athens of the North. This debut album, which boasts contributions from singers and musicians from across South and North America and was mixed in New York by legendary Latin producer Aaron Levinson, expands on that single, offering a wonderfully authentic tribute to the glory days of Eddie Pamieri, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, classic NYC salsa and the infamous Fania label.
Tokyo Academy Philharmonic Chorus Group - "Taharazaka"
Cesar Roldao Vieira - "Ze Do Trem"
Elias Rahbani - "Dance Of Maria"
Galt MacDermot - "Coffee Cold"
Review: The crate-diggers behind the Mr Bongo label can usually be relied upon to showcase some seriously good tunes old and new. That's certainly the case on this third volume in their occasional "Record Club" series of compilations. Spanning sunshine soul, obscure samba, spacey jazz-funk experimentation, wide-eyed underground disco, fiery funk, weirdo rock, cheery South African bubblegum, synth-laden early '80s highlife, Ramsay Lewis style workouts and the psychedelic Middle Eastern disco-funk of Elias Rahbani, the compilation's 20 tracks are not only near faultless, but genuinely surprising and eye-opening. To quote a cliche, this collection genuinely is all killer and no filler.
Saka Dit The King - "Ody Ody (Tsy Mentsy Mandroso)"
Michael - "Razana Tsy Ho Meloko"
Falafa - "Rapela"
Los Matadores - "Andeha Hanarato"
Nino Rafah - "Oa Niny E"
Kaiamba Orchestra - "Tokatoka"
Atrefy Andriana - "Zaka Tiako Mamolaka Keriko"
Review: It would be fair to say that few of us are familiar with the music of Madagascar, a notably beautiful island in the Indian Ocean whose indigenous culture has rarely registered in Western Europe. Yet as this fine compilation from Strut proves, the nation once boasted a vibrant recording industry whose distinctive sounds blended strong East African influences with more traditional local sounds and the ever-present inspiration of American soul, funk, disco and boogie. "Alefa Madagascar" tells this story through sound by focusing on some of the fuzzy, electrified blends of salegy, soukous and soul popular in the country between 1974 and '84. It does a bang up job, offering up 18 essential cuts that all but the most dusty-fingered crate diggers will never have heard before.
Review: Eight years on from its previous reissue (that time courtesy of Analog Africa's "Limited Dance Edition" series), Mr Bongo is offering up a fresh, licensed re-press of Rob's eponymous 1977 Afro-funk masterpiece. If you missed out in 2011, the set is definitely worth picking up because it's rock solid heat from start to finish. Check, for example, the heavily percussive Afro-beat/Afro-funk fusion of "Funky Rob Way", the flanged funk guitars and heavy brass action of "Boogie On", the jazz guitars and loved-up vocals of "Your Kiss Stole Me Away" and the William Onyeabor-does-James-Brown heaviness of closing cut "More".
Review: These days, Mulatu Astatke is widely considered to be the "Godfather of Ethiopian jazz". Yet when he recorded the two-part "Afro-Latin Soul" album in 1966, he'd just left music college in Boston. As this fine reissue proves, Astatke was years ahead of the game. While rooted in American jazz from the period, all 19 tracks (both albums have been compiled on to a single disc for this edition) draw heavily on Cuban jazz, in particular, as well as Ethiopian musical traditions. In truth, the latter aspect doesn't come through quite as strongly as you'd perhaps expect, though some of the album's highlights - the brilliant "Soul Power" in particular - draw more heavily on the percussive polyrhythms of Africa. Regardless, this is a superb set of forward-thinking global jazz that delivers high quality entertainment from start to finish.
Put Your Spirit Up (Joaquin Joe Claussell edit & Overdub)
Other Souls & Things - "Mundo De Agua" (The Psychdelic Transfusion remix)
Afrikan Basement - "Sangre"
ITU High (interlude)
The Brooklyn Heat & Soul Band - "Come & Fly With Me" (Joaquin Improvisational remix mix)
Review: The undisputed master of spiritual house music Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell presents Cosmicdelic Afrika: a collection of demos that the New York City based visionary is currently working on in the studio. The idea for the compilation was inspired by the concept of his event Share: the upcoming Share Afrika will see Claussell digging through his archives and bringing out compositions exploring Afrika, African Diaspora, dub and more. Beginning with the deeply magical and meditative vibe of "African Drug" (Joaquin's Drugged Out Sketch mix) by Bob Holroyd, the soulful and uplifting deepness of "Emarofo Tech" (Joaquin's Demo Sketch Mix) by Mampo or Cosmic Ritual's "Abraxas" (Joaquin demo Sketch mix) which is classic Claussell - reminiscent of work on his seminal Language album from the turn of the millennium.
Messias Holanda - "O Galo Canta, O Macaco Assovia"
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Lambada Da Baleia"
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Mambo Assanhado"
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Carimbo Para Yemanja"
Pinduca - "Coco Da Bahia"
Messias Holanda - "Carimbo Da Pimienta"
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Da Garrafa Uma Pinga"
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Maruda"
Magalhaes E Sua Guitarra - "Xango"
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Melo Do Bode"
Grupo Da Pesada - "Voa Andorinha"
Grupo Da Pesada - "Lundun Da Yaya"
Mestre Cupijo E Seu Ritmo - "Despedida"
Review: Analog Africa's latest must-have release focuses on the little-known musical culture of the Para state on Northern Brazil, and specifically the port city of Belem. Since the 1960s the city's musicians have been serving up unique and exciting new styles that draw as much on West African, Cuban and Caribbean music as they do the rhythms and instrumentation of the Amazonian tribes based nearby. It's these kinds of unique and exuberant fusions - think heavy bass, bouncy ska-style rhythms, punchy Afro-Cuban horns, densely layered drums, celebratory vocals and tropical guitars - that make "Jambu E Os Miticos Sons Da Amazonia" such an essential listen. Context is provided via the included 44-page booklet, whose extensive liner notes track the development of Para's unique musical culture.
Review: Just when you think that the well of obscure music from around the world has run dry, Analog Africa returns to put the record straight. Pop-Makossa shines a light on a glorious but largely overlooked period in the story of Cameroonian makossa, when local musicians began to replace funk and highlife influences with the rubbery bass of classic disco and the sparkling synth flourishes and drum machines of electrofunk. The resultant compilation, which apparently took eight years to produce, is packed full of brilliant cuts, from the heavily-electronic jauntiness of Pasteur Lappe's "Sanaga Calypso" and horn-totin' Highlife-disco of Emmaniel Kahe and Jeanette Kemogne's "Ye Medjuie", to the dense, organ-laden wig out that is Clement Djimogne's "Africa".
Review: She may be best known as a TV and radio presenter, but Nigerian star Julie Coker also enjoyed a short but successful music career. She released two albums of note - highlife-focused 1976 debut "Ere Yon (Sweet Songs)" and 1981's more disco-centric "Tomorrow" - both of which now fetch eye-watering sums online. This fine retrospective showcases cuts from both of those sets, with the many highlights including the spacey, delay-laden highlife cheeriness of "Re Hese", the Clavinet-sporting disco-funk-goes-pop bounce of "It's All For You", the low-slung but rising, gospel influenced brilliance of "Gossiper Scandal Monger" and the heavily percussive, off-kilter goodness of album closer "Iyo-Re". You might also notice the intro of 'Ere Yon', which was recently sampled to great effect in Anderson .Paak's "Saviers Road"!
Review: Famously, Shadow's Sweet Sweet Dreams album was panned by critics when it first appeared way back in 1984. In the years since, it has attained cult status, with collectors of Trinidadian music particularly enjoying its curious blend of bustling boogie electronics, Soca rhythms, traditional instrumentation and sassy disco-pop style. As this tasty reissue proves, the album has lost none of its lustre over the last 30 years. Put simply, it still sounds ahead of its time, with intergalactic dancefloor workouts such as "Let's Make It Up" (with its "we're gonna have a party" refrain) and "Way Way Out" resonating particularly loudly.
Review: The work of Northern Brazilian musician-turned-bandleader Mestre Cupijo has long fascinated record collectors. Much of the allure can be attributed to Cupijo's trademark sound, which fused African-influenced Brazilian dance music and traditional Amazonian rhythms with sounds from Colombia (notably cumbia), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The results, as showcased on six albums during the 1970s, were exciting and enthralling; a cross-pollination of sounds heavy on jaunty horns, shuffling rhythms and celebratory vocals. Here, Analog Africa presents the first in-depth retrospective of Mestre's work, hand-picking the finest tracks from his six obscure 1970s albums and offering them up in remastered form. For anyone interested in either African or Brazilian music, it should be an essential purchase.
Review: These days, Hamad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: Many African disco enthusiasts will already be familiar with the title track of Benis Cletin's 1979 debut album, Jungle Magic, thanks to the fine re-edit Sofrito released back in 2011. Few, though, will have heard the whole album, which here gets a well-deserved reissue on CD. Cletin's take on Afro-disco-calypso-funk fusion is undeniably sweet, with cuts such as "Mr Teacher" and "Love Forever" balancing the needs of dancefloors with a cheery looseness that's never less than intoxicating. Highlights include the urgent, synth-laden Afro-funk grunt of "Fireman", and the touching, down-tempo tribute to Africa, "Beautiful Continent".
Review: Famed for their thrilling, dancefloor-friendly fusions of West African funk and disco, American electrofunk and post-punk pop, Ibibio Sound Machine is one of the most exciting and essential bands of recent times. It's for this reason that "Doko Mien", the Eno Williams fronted band's first album for two years, is so hotly anticipated. Happily, we can confirm that it's another stunning set, with Williams and company charging through a set of sizzling songs that wrap kaleidoscopic synths, rubbery bass, fiery horns and off-kilter funk-rock guitars around grooves that variously doff a cap to '80s electro, Italo-disco, jazz-funk, Tony Allen and thrusting, mind-altering mutant disco. In other words, it's another must-have collection of cuts from the London-based band.
Review: Ever since its' initial 1983 release, Ahmed Fakroun's debut album, Mots D'Amour has been considered something of a global fusion classic by Balearic-minded record collectors. Initially released by legendary label Celluloid - home to some genuinely genre-bending electro, post-punk and experimental World Music - the well regarded full-length saw the Libyan singer/songwriter/musician blend traditional Arabic instrumentation and vocal harmonies with the distinctive shimmer of synthesizers, and typically Western pop production. 33 years on, the album has lost none of its' potency, with the breezy, English language track "Love Words", Talking Heads-ish "Soleil Soleil" and cheery "Kalimat Hob" standing out.
Review: Following 2012's fourth volume that celebrated the existential work of Tim Maia, here we find Luaka Bop exploring the legacy of William Onyeabor. A high chief and Kenyan diplomat who allegedly refuses to discuss his music, he self-released eight albums in the 70s and 80s and these are some of the many highlights. Stretching from the New York-influenced post-punk synth funk of "Good Name" to the most authentic Afro fusion of "Why Go To War", Onyeabor's range not only reflects his clear creative skill, but also the ever-developing international language of music during the fruitful period he was active. Who is William Onyeabor? Press play and find out yourselves...
Review: It would be fair to say that Kokoko! are not just dragging the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the 21st century, but also pushing it forwards towards the future. That much is proved by this essential debut album, a set full to bursting with thrilling fusions of Kuduro style electronics beats, lo-fi analogue electronics, traditional Congolese instrumentation, hand-played percussion polyrhythms and basslines so weighty they could crush an average-sized person. It's an arresting audio blueprint that guarantees thrills from start to finish. Highlights include the hot-stepping dancefloor sleaze of "Azo Toke", the foreboding, polyrhythmic 21st century punk-funk of "Malembe" and the intergalactic brilliance of "L.O.V.E.".