Review: For the latest exotic outing on their Tak:til offshoot, Germany's World Music inspired Glitterbeat crew has turned to South Korean fusionist Park Jiha, an artist whose occasional releases combine traditional instruments with contemporary electronics and production techniques. There's plenty to enjoy from start to finish, from the exotic, mind-altering string motifs and intoxicating aural textures of opener "Arrival", to the fuzzy sunset bliss of "Thunder Shower", delicate piano motifs and reverb-heavy plucked strings of "Philos" and the slow melodic bob and swirling field recordings of "Walker: In Seoul". Best of all, though, is the childlike wonder of bittersweet standout cut "When I Think Of Her", in which Jiha's improvised vocals play a starring role.
Review: Sierra Leone's Geraldo Pino was one of the biggest names in West African music in the late '60s and early '70s, developing a James Brown-influenced Afro-funk sound that is said to have heavily influenced Fela Kuti. By 1978, his best years were arguably behind him, but he was still able to stay on top of developments in American music. Boogie Fever, his final full-length, did a great job in fusing his usual organ-heavy sound with popular dancefloor styles of the time, including New York disco and Jamaican reggae. As a result, Pino was responsible for one of the best Afro-disco albums of all time, which here gets a first CD release. For those who love African music - and particularly Afro-beat - it should be an essential purchase.
Review: As a member of several chart-topping groups and an in-demand producer in his own right, Thami Mdluli was something of a superstar on South Africa's "bubblegum" scene during the 1980s. Yet as the decade progressed, it was for his club-focused instrumentals - released under the Professor Rhythm alias - that he became most celebrated. By the time this album was first released in 1995, he'd helped to develop the now celebrated "Kwaito" style of house-influenced South African dancefloor fusion. Bafana Bafana does contain some distinctive kwaito moments, but for the most part it just sounds like a gloriously South African take on mid 1990s U.S, Italian and British house music. Crucially, it's also superb, like some long lost '90s house album made in Jo'burg, rather than New Jersey.
Nuit Douce (feat Jacob Desvarieux & Patrice Caratini)
Bossa De La Plage (feat Alain Jean-Marie & Vincent Segal)
Ballade A Ilet Perou (feat Alain Jean-Marie & Vincent Segal)
Papa Yaya (feat Dao)
Kalypso Ka (feat Anthony Joseph)
Oui Ce Vous (feat Patrice Caratini)
Anty Kaz La (feat Alain Jean-Marie & Vincent Segal)
Missier Woje La
Baye La Vwa (feat Dao)
Kalypso Ka (feat Anthony Joseph - version Carnavale - bonus track)
Review: French percussionist Roger Raspail has been active on the Parisian scene for decades, releasing his debut album - the CD-only Fanny's Dream - way back in 1997. This belated second set is a deliciously vibrant and internationally minded affair, with the 13 tracks variously touching on Afro-cuban grooves, jazz-funk, zouk, calypso, tango, samba and hard-to-pigeonhole musical fusions. A range of guest vocalists swing by to lend a hand, while Rapsail's brilliant drum work - which encompasses all manner of different percussion instruments - providing the glue that holds everything together. While there are a few deeper moments, for the most part Dalva is a joyous celebration of global rhythms.
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: Habibi Funk co-founder Jannis Stuertz first came across "the Holy Grail of Sudanese funk", Saif Abu Bakr and The Scorpions "Jazz, Jazz, Jazz", while browsing eBay listings a few years back. His interest piqued, he took a trip to Sudan to track down the musicians who had made a ridiculously rare LP that was changing hands for thousands of pounds online. Some four years later, his wish to reissue the set has finally come through. It was originally recorded in Kuwait in 1980 and brilliantly joins the dots between American funk, soul and rhythm and blues, traditional Sudanese vocals and rhythmic arrangements, and even a dash of Congolese soukkous. It's the first full album Habibi Funk has reissued, and with good reason: it's near perfect from start to finish.
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: During military service with the Nigerian military in 1978, former Fela Kuti collaborators Ojo Okeji and Abayomi "Easy" Adio decided to form a new band. Featuring other musicians recruited from within the ranks of the 6th Infantry Brigade of the Nigerian Army, the Shango Dance Band recorded an eponymous debut album that was only ever available to other military personnel. Here, it gets a first worldwide reissue. Similar in ethos to the Afrobeat sound the duo had helped Fela develop - but with extra layers of guitar, percussion, and gravel-throated U.S soul style vocals - Shango Dance Band is as potent and funky as anything released in Nigeria during the period. Thanks to the excellent Comb & Razor Sound, it's no longer a hidden classic.
Review: Despite the rather glum look Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove is sporting on the cover of New York Afternoon, this new Snowboy & The Latin Section album is a reason to celebrate as its been some 30 years since the Afro-Cuban act first put out a record!! Since the Flaco Jiminez-featuring Mambo Teresa 12" dropped back in 1986, Snowboy & The Latin Section have become torchbearers for the authentic Latin jazz style and they sound as vibrant as ever on this sixteenth album. A glorious Afro-Cuban jazz extravaganza which captures the block party feel of '70s Latin jazz and early salsa, New York Afternoon features vocals from both rising jazz vocal star Jen Kearney and Baltimore house music legend Marc Evans as well as Polar Bear saxophonist Pete Wareham.
Review: By the time he released the career-defining "Toquinho" in 1970, guitarist Antonio Pecci Filho was already a rising star in his native Brazil. Propelled forwards by cheery hit single "Que Maravilha" - a samba-soaked collaboration with fellow South American star Jorge Ben - the eponymous LP made "Toquinho" a massive star in his home country. As this reissue proves, the album has aged brilliantly. It features a fine mix of laidback instrumentals, shuffling samba songs (see the ace "Zana"), folksy excursions and cuts that later provided samples for some of dance music's best-loved tracks (most notably "Carolina Carol Bela", which was sampled by DJ Marky on his breakthrough hit "LK"). The kind of album that everyone should have in their record collection.
Review: First released back in 1977, Trio Mocoto's second eponymous album has long been a favorite with collectors of "MPB" - the most Brazilian of popular music styles. Thanks to the dusty-fingered diggers at Mr Bongo, the album is now available again on wax for the first time since 1980 (and, of course, for a fraction of the cost of an original copy). Like many of the greatest MPB albums of the period, the album's ten tracks brilliantly blend elements of samba, string-laden easy listening, soul, jazz-funk and fusion, with the band's strong group vocals and luscious instrumentation guaranteeing a warm, sun-kissed vibe throughout.
Review: Since its' release in 1978 on Nigeria's Clover Sound, Mary Afi Usuah's African Woman has been widely regarded as one of the strongest Afro-soul albums of the period. Interestingly, the sound showcased on the set - which here gets a first ever release on CD - draws on South African and American influences as much as Nigerian ones. This is particularly evident on the urgent Afro-funk of "What's The Woman To Do", the brilliant title track, and the low-slung, Meters-ish swing of "Tenkim Kpoho". One of the most impressive aspects of the album is its' mixture of floor-slayers and slower groovers, with the reggae-influenced "Our Generation (Ode To Our Nation)" also impressing.
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