Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a must-have seven-inch containing two curiously off-kilter cuts from obscure "beat generation" bands of the early 1960s. Der Evergreens "Es Lilin" (that's "Ice Lolly" in English, apparently) is a sun-kissed rhythm and blues cover of a Sudanese love song recorded in Rotterdam in 1965. It's fairly short but very, very sweet. Arguably even better is Les Jaguars De Casablanca's 1962 cover of surf classic "Gonzales". The band was truly international - Spanish and French guitarists and a Moroccoan rhythm section - and on the resultant recording you can tell. Think of it as an "outernational" take on the Shadows, and you're close.
Review: Juan Laya and Jorge Montiel pay homage to the heartland with this beguiling album. A deep trip up and down the amazon, hopping off as and when they see fit, the album sees them paying homage to Latin standards such as "Fruta Fresca" and "Manduco". Rebuilding them electronically with, no doubt, a fair few classic synths in the mix. From disco to blues with just a touch of Latin folk magic, it's yet another unique and vital trip from the Los Charly's Orchestra lads.
Review: Time for some Brazilian psychedelic boogie straight from 78. Erstwhile lead singer in Os Mutantes, with a personality thrice as big as the soaking wet bassline on "Agora E Moda", Rita Lee is no stranger to her motherland - even now. Flip for a huge soul injection courtesy of Pete Dunaway. Sounding English in every direction (from his name to his lyrics to the stunning, string-coated arrangement) he's actually Sao Paulo born and is a renowned multi-instrumentalist. Check this and you can tell in an instant. Stunning.
Review: Norwegian music has long tended towards the eccentric, though we can't think of many quirkier releases than Leoparden's recent album "Stilen Er Stimmvel" - a decidedly off-kilter set that mixes lo-fi synth-boogie, reggae, African rhythms, P-funk, blue-eyed soul and lashings of Scandolearic vibes. This tidy 7" single offers up a taster of that set in the shape of album highlight "Hagefest", a decidedly spaced-out afro-reggae affair rich in reverb laden vocals, clipped guitars and off-kilter drums. Leoparden brilliantly strips things back on the flipside "Version", which layers dubbed-out snippets of vocal, guitar and synth over a beefed up version of the eccentric rhythm track.
Review: In recent times Rush Hour has excelled at reissuing obscure African music of the late 1980s, often pairing the original with a previously unheard cover version or remake. They're at it again here, offering up Les Choc Stars Du Zaire and Ben Nyamabo's 1989 cut "Nakombe Nga" with an obscure Belgian new beat cover by one album wonders Teknokrat's [sic]. Les Choc Stars Du Zaire's version is wonderfully positive, joining the dots between electronic soukous, ear-catching synth-pop and sunset-friendly Balearic vibes. The Teknokrat's version is, if anything, even more loved-up, with classic late '80s house instrumentation (Frankie Knuckles style synth-strings, jaunty pianos), ghostly electronic lead lines, delay-laden vocal passages and a superb synth bassline
Toto Is Back (Deni Shain & Papastomp remix) (6:56)
Toto Is Back (Deni Shain & Papastomp Add parts Only) (4:05)
Review: Les Maxel's "Le Retour De Toto" first came out in 1976, via the Disques Debs imprint, and has gained an impressive notoriety on the second hand market. So much so that it has become a staple of the beguine style, a calypso-leaning sub-genre from the French Caribbean, and pretty much an anthem to anyone into that particular strain of dance. Atangana have reissued with dev diligence, with Deni Shain and Papastomp remixing its groove to form a more contemporary, more structured arrangement that taps into the 4/4 mould. Killah, even simply for the original cut!
Review: Wanna hear the Isley Brothers classic "It's Your Thing" given a Latin shakedown? Mr Bongos have got you covered on the latest 7" in their splendid Latin 45s series! Originally issued back in 1974 on TR Records, this Los Africanos cover is a rum heavy Nu Yorican funk-soul instrumental featuring screaming Hammond organ and FX. It's very expensive in original form now, so shout outs to Mr Bongos for pressing it up here along with an equally good 1968 cover of instrumental, boogaloo version of Eddie Floyd's all-time classic "Knock On Wood" from Machito & His Afro-Cubans.
Review: Two delicious freeform rhythm jams from the heart of Bogota; Los Propios Bateros (AKA drummer and percussionist Pedro Ojeda) is the result of a deep documentary project that plots the rhythmic thread through the Americas as a cast of Columbian's next generation musicians explore the national legacy of descraga and pornpo across two warm and seductive improvisations; "Batazo Batero" swoons with a little light jazz in its step while "Bolillo, Baqueta Y Tombo" is more of a loose funk riff that writhes in and out of the tight staccato trumpet riff. Sublime as always from Names You Can Trust.
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
Ronaldo Reseda - "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" (5:19)
Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti - "Ginga" (2:57)
Review: The 65th volume in Mr Bongo's admirable Brazil 45s series shines a light on Rio De Janeiro's turn-of-the-'80s boogie scene. On the A-side you'll find "E Novamente Mas Que Nada" by Ronaldo Resado, a five-minute chunk of samba-laced boogie sunshine that was originally featured on the artist's eponymous 1979 debut album. While wonderful, it's slightly overshadowed by flipside cut "Ginga", one of the highlights from Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti's sought-after 1982 full-length (which, incidentally, was recently reissued by Mr Bongo and is well worth checking). Joining the dots between synth-heavy electrofunk, horn-toting disco-funk and languid jazz-funk, the instrumental track is arguably one of the best Brazilian boogie records ever made. Don't sleep.
Review: The latest missive from the Imagenes camp sees Los Charley's Orchestra rework two tracks from Manana, a Spiteri side project that released one jazz-fusion/samba disco album in 1981. Both "Amor" and "Disco Samba" are taken from that obscure but inspired set, and are here given "vocal" and "instrumental" revisions from the Los Charly's boys. All four revisions hit the spot from start to finish. We're particularly enjoying the spacey synths, low-slung dub disco grooves, fluttering vocals and well-placed delay effects of their "Amor" versions, though many DJs may gravitate towards the rolling, AOR disco bounce of the duo's more celebratory remixes of "Disco Samba".
Review: Insane boogie fire from Rio circa 82; both Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti were already decorated before they joined forces, but this one took both of their reputations and amplified them beyond expectation. Their one and only album, it's loaded with soul and funk from every corner of Brazil's sexy city and brought together with beautiful attention to detail; the gradual vocal breakdowns, rude synths and lavish instrumental sections, key cuts such as the Wonder-level "Aleluia", the jazz slides and glides of "Pret-A-Porter" and the sexy 80s electro boogie "Squash" will still completely flip any party 35 years later. Stunning.
Review: Bruno Hovart, Favorite Recordings' man of many talents, is at it again here. He's the man at the controls on this debut album from Pat Kalla, a French vocalist of Cameroonian heritage who has previously contributed to Hovart's Voilaaa records. Backed by Lyon band Le Super Mojo and with Hovart conjuring up his authentic '70s style production, Kalla lays down a string of superb songs that variously touch on Afro-disco, soul, Highlife, Juju, accordion-fired Cameroonian dance music of old and the kind of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tropical fusion so popular in former French colonies in the Caribbean. It's a wonderfully joyous and breezy set, and certainly worthy of your attention.
Review: La Mambanegra was founded by saxophonist Jacobo Velez in Cali, the world capital of salsa on the Pacific coast of Colombia. According to Salvador de Bahia, Cali is the city with the most African descendants. This strong Afro influence is clearly heard in the songs of the 15-member orchestra. El Callegueso y su Mala MaNa combines traditional salsa from the streets of New York City during the seventies with elements of Jamaican, Cuban and Colombian music, as well as funk and current hip-hop influences. Velez raised the genre "break salsa" for his simmering brew. It is presented by some of the most accomplished musicians in Colombia, including the living Latin jazz legend Eddy Martinez and the salsa band Niche, and stretches over ten, roller-coaster-like songs, with stories from the Colombian everyday life on the family history of the band founder. "El Callegueso, was the godfather of the album, but it is only when it comes to love, for example in the piece "Cantare para vos" or "El Blues de Yemanja", that is the tribute to one Ocean goddess.
Review: Cuba's Orland Cachaito Lopez, who sadly passed away back in '09, had only released his first LP under his name in 2001. World Circuit was the imprint to bring the man to the foray, and here they are once again with this marvelously packaged reissue. Solid and guaranteed to please. Needless to say, this album is full of Havana's magic vibe, rocking some pretty full-proof rhythms with a swing and a charm that can only be found on the Caribbean island. But, it's not simply Lopez's Cuban heritage which makes it stand out; rather, there is just the right balance of motion between dance and form, making this album a sure stand-out to anyone remotely interested in anything 'jazz'. Lovely stuff.
Review: This "Special Edition" of Lord Echo's recent third full-length, Harmonies, seems to be aimed at DJs. Whereas the original pressing contained the same tracks on one piece of wax, this version stretches the same tracks over two super-loud, heavyweight records. Formatting aside, the album itself is something of a head-in-the-clouds, feet-on-the-floor treat. It features the Kiwi producer working with a range of collaborators - Tony Laing of Fat Freddy's Drop and regular studio buddy Mara TK included - to serve up intoxicating cuts that brilliantly fuses reggae, dub and rocksteady rhythms with elements borrowed from disco, Afro-soul, Afro-funk, spiritual jazz and, more surprisingly, techno. It's a hugely vibrant and entertaining set, offering a good balance between dancefloor vibrations and more laidback concoctions.