Review: The 3rd Generation Band hail from Ghana, recording only six tracks in their time together, all for the Essiebons label and now Mr Bongo reissue these two super rare tracks. The life affirming Afro Rhythm & Blues of "Because Of Money" was also featured on Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilation previously. It was compiled by Andrew Edwards. The band was formed in the late 70's by leader Rockson, a soldier at the time. The original record is extremely rare and this reissue is a replica 7", including the original picture paper sleeve that was carefully restored by Andrew Edwards. B side track "Obi Ye Saa Wui" is African style soul-funk, very influenced by James Brown.
Review: Israel's infamous Tvsia Abarbanel, a Goddess in her own right, is back on our charts thanks to the ever-impressive Fortuna Records, and the label have once again dug up an impossibly rare independent recording from the 1970s that has rarely ever been seen or smelled by even the most addicted of diggers. Much like the other 1970 recording they reissued back in 2012, Eastern Soul is Abarbanel attempting to mix traditional Yemenite sounds jazz, funk and soul, resulting in a veritablely singular sound throughout. The opening "Wings Of Love" is a moody jazz track made for the dancefloor, but our favourite is the B1, "Yahlel Hawa", an incredible display of traditional Israeli percussion, iconic singing, and the American jazz influence that just ties it all together.These won't last long. Recommended.
Review: Originally released in Kenya way back in 1987, "Hinde" was the sole single from an obscure outfit called African Vibration. The track has since gone on to become something of a sought-after gem; a sparse, drum machine-driven, synthesizer-sporting jam that offers a uniquely tropical and wholeheartedly East African take on electro/synth-pop fusion. Happily, Soundway has decided to issue it on 12" for the first time, having previously included in on 2016's superb "Kenya Special: Volume 2" compilation. The brilliant original comes accompanied by a fresh Julian Dyne rework that makes more of the original's fluttering, sun-kissed synths and rainforest sound effects. It's a little deeper, dreamier and exceptionally blissful; in fact, you could almost describe it as being "Balearic".
Review: Nothing screams global music culture like a Senegalese-Japanese Afrobeat band, although listening to Afro Begue you would imagine all creative minds involved come from the mother continent. "Boula Niit Tognie" is a wonderfully expressive slice of Afrobeat in the finest tradition of the sound, all interwoven guitar twisting out complex but utterly natural sounding configurations, and a tumbling rhythm section you can happily float away to. Ryuhei The Man steps up for a re-edit on the flip that does a delicate job of beefing the track up for the club - the difference is subtle, but worthwhile, like a good re-edit should be.
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: Copies of Francisco Aguabella's 1977 album "Hitting Hard" are not only extremely hard to come by, but also suitably pricey when they do come up for sale online. Fret not - Dynamite Cuts are here to help. They've decided to reissue two of the Afro-Cuban jazz/funk fusion set's most potent track, thus saving us the need to fork out the best part of 800 pounds. A-side "Ramon's Desire" - a cover of a Ramon Robes song - is suitably breezy, jazzy and positive, with glistening guitar and vibraphone solos combining wonderfully with a soulful vocal. Flipside "Casa Fuerte", on the other hand, is an all-action, high-tempo Afro-Cuban jazz dance treat, with high-octane piano solos rising above a Tito Puente style rhythm track.
Mahmoud Ahmed - "Aynotche Terabu" (with Equators Band) (4:02)
Girma Beyene - "Ene Negn Bay Manesh" (2:24)
Review: The Afro 45's / Mr Bongo lineage has produced some of the hottest, most sizzling funk reissues from around the globe, and this tasty two-header from Mahmoud Ahmed - who has appeared heavily on Portland's monumental Mississippi label - and Girma Beyene, two greats of the African soul / funk heritage. Ahmed's "Aynotche Terabu" is backed by the Equators Band, and the man's voice rides like crispy waves over the dusty percussion and charging trumpets of the outfit; Beyene appears with a less moody but equally brilliant jazz-leaning piece named "Ene Negn Bay Manesh", bringing through the spirot of greats such as Mulatu and the rest of the African luminaries.
Review: Bahrandi-born British jazz musician Yazz Ahmed bagged a critical hit with sophomore set "La Saboteuse", an album described by one reviewer as "a modern jazz masterpiece". While that critic may not feel the same way about this alternative remix EP, we reckon it's another storming release. Hector Plimmer kicks things off with a wonderfully exotic, broken beats-meets-jazz-funk revision of "The Lost Pearl" that packs a real low-end punch, before DJ Khalab places Ahmed's poignant horn solos atop a crackling, high tempo lo-fi beat on his fine rework of "Jamil Jamal". The album's inherent Arabic influences shine through loud and clear on Blacksea Nao Mayo's hard to pigeonhole - but thrillingly heavy - version of "Al Emadi" - while Ahmed and Langley's re-make of "Spindrifting" is a lilting, intergalactic ambient jazz treat.
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: 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: Longstanding Osaka live troupe Amanita took the bold step into recorded original territory in 2016 with this exceptional 45 on Rustafe. Reissued for 2018, it's still as endearingly lofi and mesmerising as the five piece Afrobeat evangelists lay down two alluring pieces. "Qnitia" leans back on a hypnotising chord swing, sparse percussion and vibrant sax and subtle dubby echoes while "Makossa" takes a well known rim-shotting rhythm and cooks it up slow n' low for another smouldering summer.
Review: German imprint Pingipung has been doing a great job in re-introducing the world to the music of Umeko Ando, a Japanese folk singer who spent decades championing her native Ainu culture before passing away in 2004. Pingipung has already reissued her rare debut album, 2000's "Ihunke", and here gives a deserved first single release to that set's closing track, "Atuy So Kata". Her beautiful and haunting original version - all handclaps, traditional instrumentation and her sublime vocals - nestles on the A-side, with Patric Catani's remix on the flip. His version is drowsy, foreboding and fuzzy, with the remixer expertly mixing Ando's vocals and instrumentation with crunchy electronic drums, psych-rock guitars and all manner of out-there noises.
Review: Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords. A rare and long-awaited reissue.
Review: Another weighty slab of Ethiopian music history from Mr Bongo... First up is the hugely influential fusionist Mulatu Astatke with the Latin-meets-Afro jam "Assiyo Bellema". Loaded with frenetic guitars and mesmerising drum work from Frank Holder, this was actually recorded during Mulatu's time in London. Flip for an equally influential force in Ethiopian music: Soul Ekos Band affiliate Teshome Meteku with a more traditional local sound, Teshome's yearning insistent vocals wrap around the horns and tight drums like fog around a mountain. Captivating.
Review: Awesome Tapes From Africa surely scored one of the best reissues this year with the vinyl and CD edition of Obaa Sima, a quite startling album from Ghanaian musician Ata Kak that covered highlife, rap, pop, and more. The fact the discovery of the original tape was ATFA founder's Brian Shimkovitz original reason for starting the label made it all the more special. With copies of that album no longer in press, Awesome Tapes From Africa have tempered demand with a series of 12" releases featuring cuts from Obaa Sima. Here the title track makes the transition, pressed nice and loud at 45rpm (do try it at 33 too for a different vibe), whilst the slower electro funk-edged bliss of "Adagya" lines the B-side.
Review: Bjorn Wagner's Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band combo recently returned from a two-year hiatus with a killer new album, "The Serpent's Mouth". It's that set - a glorious fusion of funk, soul, disco, jazz and Trinidadian steel band music - from which these two top tracks are taken from. A-side "1 Thing" is particularly glorious. As one quick listen to the clips will confirm, it's a riotous instrumental cover of the Amerie R&B classic of the same name, which replaces the singer's vocals with ear-catching steel drums. The same killer combination of flash-friend funk guitars, bustling drums and tropical steel drum sounds can also be heard on B-side "Hoopla Hoop", which also boasts some suitably fuzzy horns.
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.
Bar Konon Mousso (Musicien C'est Pas Quelqu'un) (Ben Gomori N'est Pas musicien edit) (8:00)
Massa Kamba (Ben Gomori's Massabbatical edit) (9:11)
Review: This officially licensed 12" sees prolific British disco producer Ben Gomori take a scalpel to two cuts from veteran African musician Amadou Balake's 2015 album, In Conclusion. On side A you'll find a fantastic, eight-minute extension of the breezy shuffler "Bar Konon Mousso (Musicien C'est Pas Quelqu'un)", where snaking saxophone solos and sun-kissed, juju style guitars rise above a hot-stepping, bass-heavy groove. Turn to the flipside for a thrillingly epic take on "Massa Kamba", a deeper and slightly more musically intricate cut blessed with a blissful; Pat Metheny style jazz guitar breakdown, memorable chorus vocals and evocative horn lines.
Review: For the latest release on their on-point Brasil 45s sub-label, Mr Bongo takes a trip back to 1977, and the early days of legendary fusion outfit Banda Black Rio. Both the cuts here are taken from the band's brilliant debut album, Maria Fumaca, and see them fusing Brasilian samba and jazz sounds with the righteous, dancefloor-friendly grooves of funk and disco. "Maria Fumaca" itself is a deliciously sunny and sweaty affair, with punchy horns, eyes-closed guitar solos and jazz-funk electic piano lines rising above a carnival-ready samba-funk groove. The U.S funk influence comes to the fore more on flipside "Mr Funky Samba", which sounds like Azymuth jamming with members of the T.K Disco, Philadelphia International and Salsoul house bands. Yep, it's that good.
Miele - "Melo Do Tagarela (Rapper's Delight)" (instrumental) (4:10)
Review: Although Brazil's Banda Black Rio remain infamous for the albums that they recorded in the late 1970s, two beautiful LPs that rode that singular wave of samba-ridden jazz dance, 1980's "Miss Cheryl" is an outstanding tune, and we can hear why RCA picked it up back in the day. Mr Bongo provides us with the reissue here and, if you haven't heard it, it's an absolute delight which switches between disco, psych, and something inherently Brazilian - there's even a wacky synth in there, for good measure. Compatriot Miele appears on the flip with "Melo Do Tagarela (Rappers Delight)", a sublime slice of early, electronic boogie that sounds as fresh today as it did back at the tail end of the 70s. A devious little reissue that you should own...
Review: Puerto Rican music legend Ray Barretto has a seriously impressive biography, including spells with the Tito Puente Orchestra and the acclaimed Fania All Stars. This tasty seven-inch single serves up one of Barretto's best boogaloo-era cuts, 1968 single and Acid album track "Mercy, Mercy Baby". It remains a fine song, wrapping a jaunty salsa rhythm in various boogaloo aural hallmarks, including impassioned vocals, funk-influenced horns and an incessant piano riff. Interestingly, this edition doesn't feature the original single B-side, but rather a previously unissued instrumental version. Shorn of the vocals and pop production, it feels breezier and heavier, with additional trumpet solos that will wind their way into your subconscious.
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: German-Ghanaian group the Polyversal Souls have previously collaborated with a number of bands and solo artists from West Africa, so this hook-up with Northern Ghanaian outfit the Bolga All Stars - a collective made up of leading local kologo and frafra-gospel singers and musicians - should not come as much of a surprise. Separated into two parts for the seven-inch release, the track blends the Polyversal Souls' lolloping, late '60s style Afro-funk grooves - complete with fuzzy, period style production - and sharp horn section with glistening guitars, snaking solos and fine vocals from the Bolga All Stars. It's one of the Polyversal Souls' finest releases yet, and that's saying something.
Review: Tribal, physical, psychedelic: Joe Claussell's Bolla project is one of his finest creative accomplishments for many fans, and his album Afrikan Basement: Makussa is the gift that keeps on giving. Having previously leaked limited 12"s, Joe's label Sacred Rhythm does it again with another super-limited, one-sided press. Hooky, insistent and far-out for the full 10 minutes, this is shaman material right here. Do not sleep.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: The library music crate-diggers behind Italy's Four Flies label aren't quite sure when regular collaborators Braen (an alias of composer and multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Alessandroni) and Raskovich (Guillano Sorgini) recorded these two previously unreleased tracks, but it's thought to have been around the time of the 1971 sessions for a psychedelic rock 7" by The Pawnshop. A-side "Afro Beat" is something of a saucer-eyed, Modernist delight, with the duo mixing meandering organ lines and breezy Afro-funk grooves with heavy bass. "Afro Flower", on the other hand, sounds like something that would have emerged from the studio of the Graham Bond Organization during the swinging '60s, which is no bad thing in our book.
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.
Review: Ghanaian disco-funk stalwart Sidiku Buari initially broke through in his native country in 1975. Although it was his eponymous debut album that cemented his star status, it was the single that preceded the set, "Karam Bani", that established his reputation. Here it gets a deserved reissue, complete with original B-side "Ye Koaba". The title track is something of a beast: a driving, funk-fuelled work out rich in jammed-out electric piano lines, sweaty drums and soaring, life-affirming vocals. "Ye Koaba", meanwhile, is a little breezier and jolly in tone, but no less essential.
Review: Sidiku is an impressive gentleman. A Ghanaian athlete turned musician with over 16 albums to his name he shook his country's music industry up as the chairman of the Ghanaian Copyright Society and now president of the Musicians Union of Ghana and the vice president of International Federation Of Musicians. He can also lay down a mean hook; "Anokwar (Truth)" is a firing slice of late 70s synth-infused afrofunk while "Music" comes a little later in the 80s with its rapid synth boogie groove and big Fanti chants. Righteous.