Review: Naturally, the great Fela Kuti or more recently, people like William Onyeabor usually get all the praise when it comes to the topic of Afrobeat and anything remotely funky from central Africa. However, what many fail to realise is the sheer quantity of untapped gold deep in the heart of those countries and King Bucknor Jr is inarguably very much a part of that hidden treasure chest. 1979's African Woman, also known as The Black Isaiah Of Africa, is a record that holds a mythical status for many, and it's safe to say that for the few lucky diggers who own an original copy of this record, Hot Casa's reissue probably isn't that welcome. However, how could anyone ever deny a fellow music lover of a tune like "Woman Nature" or "Mr Debtor"? The former owns the sexiest percussion roll available on our charts at the moment, not to mention the King's raw and loose vocals, whereas the latter heads deeper into the groove, coming through with a beautifully dubwise groove to fill the air. So hot!
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.
Review: Having previously tried his hand at revivalist disco, jazz-funk and Afro-funk, it was probably only a matter of time before Bruno "Patchworks" Hovart tried his hand at Jorge Ben style samba-pop. Naturaza sees him joining forces with Ipanema-born musician and vocalist Jonathan Da Silva under the Jaoa Selva pseudonym. Musically, the album sounds like it could have been recorded in Brazil in the late '60s or early '70s, such is the fuzzy authenticity of the duo's production, instrumentation and song-writing skills. It's packed with summery, feel-good gems, the majority of which boast the distinctive shuffle of vintage samba and the jaunty musicality of early Azymuth.
Review: You can just tell a bunch of record diggers are behind Africa Seven; it's only been going since the turn of the year, but already the Paris-London label is shaping up to be an important name in the world of archival afro funk. Hot on the heels of that Manu Dibango reissue, Africa Seven turn their attentions to the self-titled album from his compatriot Jo Tongo. If you liked Tongo's contribution to the Africa Seven compilation African Airways Volume 1 you should be all over this eight track album, originally issued in 1976, and still a long player oozing with afro funk style. Recorded in both French and his native Duala language and featuring production from legendary Parisian funk/disco/afro soundman Slim Pezin, it is a perfect example of 70s funk meeting afrobeat with African folk styles and flavours.