Review: Since first emerging 23 years ago, Turkish outfit Baba Zula has developed a distinctive take on their homeland's psych-funk and psych-rock traditions, offering up albums that combine elements of occidental musical culture with low slung psychedelic rock grooves, spacey electronics and the delay-laden hum of dub. It's this unique fusion of past, present and future sounds from Middle Eastern and Western culture that makes their latest album - their first for five years - such a rewarding and enjoyable listen. While unique and hard to pigeonhole, each of the ten tracks is undeniably impressive, wonderfully evocative, genuinely atmospheric and - as you'd expect given their roots - more psychedelic than tea with Timothy Leary on the moon.
Review: BBE continue to explore the little-known catalogue of Ghanaian athlete-turned-musician Sidiku Buari, whose West African style takes on disco and boogie made him a surprise star on the New York underground in the late 1970s. Here they offer up a fresh pressing of "Disco Soccer", a brilliantly vibrant and over-the-top set of NYC disco floor-fillers that's been stretched out across two slabs of wax (the original album was a single LP) to ensure a more dancefloor-friendly cut. Highlights include the bass-heavy, Moog-laden hustle of "I'm Ready", the Patrick Adams-esque brilliance of "Hard Times", the intoxicating, high-octane thrills of "African Hustle" and the pitched-down sweetness of "Games We Used To Play".
Review: Recorded in 1983 and '84 respectively, "Feelings" and "Sidiku Buari & His Jam Busters" were the last albums recorded by Sidiku Buari, a New York based musician who turned to music after a promising career as an athlete in his native Ghana. He initially rose to prominence making highlife and afro-disco, but by the early '80s Sidiku was in full-on Afro-boogie and electrofunk mode, offering up tracks rich in colourful synthesizer lines, punchy electronic drums and righteous vocals in his native tongue. There's much to set the pulse racing across both slabs of wax, from the squelchy, club-ready brilliance of "Music" and "Anokwar (Truth)", to the slap bass propelled flex of "Minsumobo", dub disco grooves of "Karambani" and flute-laden breeziness of "Rhythm Of Africa".
Dewayon Et Conga Jazz - "Na Lingi Na Ngai Kubala Te"
Kongo Jazz - "La Belle Lucie Botayi"
Grupo Ok Jazz - "Grupo Ok Jazz"
Rock A Mambo - "Cherie Nini"
African Jazz - "Flowers Of Luckness"
African Jazz - "Merengue Nico"
Rock A Mambo - "Les Voyeurs"
Wendo Kolosoy Avec Beguen Band - "Marie Louise"
African Jazz - "Ngonga Ebeti Independance"
African Jazz - "MNC Uhuru"
Review: During the 1950s and early '60s, the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo were in the midst of a colossal struggle to gain independence from the European colonial masters. This provided a suitably fertile backdrop for a little known musical revolution, which was taking place in the two countries' clubs and live venues. The result was a distinctive and previously largely unheralded style called "Congolese rumba", which mixed elements of Latin, African and jazz music into a thrilling new sound. It's that sound that's celebrated here on one of Soul Jazz's most eyebrow raising - and, let's face it, interesting - compilations for some time. The music is largely inspired and infectious, while the lengthy accompanying booklet tells the story in vivid detail.
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.
Alhaji (Chief) Prof Kollington Ayinla - "E Ye Ika Se"
Colomach - "Kassa Kpa Sama Kpa"
Geraldo Pino - "Heavy Heavy Heavy"
MFB - "Beware"
Tony Grey & The Ozimba Messengers - "You Are The One"
Sonny Okosuns - "Oba Erediauwa I"
The Wings - "Single Boy"
Geraldo Pino - "Power To The People"
Original Wings - "Igba Alusi"
Don Bruce & The Angels - "Sugar Baby"
Geraldo Pino - "Africans Must Unite"
Review: Back in 2017, Soul Jazz offered up a superb box set of seven 7" singles featuring a wealth of 1970s Nigerian afro-rock, afro-funk and afro-disco. Since then the box has been changing hands for significant sums online, so they've bowed to pressure and decided to reissue it as a gatefold double album. It features the same combination of tracks from the likes of Geraldo Pino, Tony Grey, The Wings and MFB, though this time they've been included in a different order. For those interested in raw, raucous and life-affirming Nigerian dance music from the period, it should be an essential purchase (providing, of course, they don't already own the previous box set).