Review: With so many archival labels putting out compilations of 1970s Nigerian funk and disco, Soundway has decided to change tack. Doing It In Lagos is a primer on the country's lesser-celebrated 1980s boogie scene. According to the superb liner notes, most of the music on show here - and, yes, it's universally brilliant - was created by a younger generation of musicians who wanted to move away from Afrobeat, and further towards an authentically American style electrofunk sound. As a result, many of the tracks featured on Doing It In Lagos - not least Hotline's brilliant opener, Livy Ekemezie's disco-funk slammer "Holiday Action" and Sonny Enang's superb "Don't Stop That Music" - are every bit as special as the American-produced records they were trying to emulate.
Review: Following 2012's fourth volume that celebrated the existential work of Tim Maia, here we find Luaka Bop exploring the legacy of William Onyeabor. A high chief and Kenyan diplomat who allegedly refuses to discuss his music, he self-released eight albums in the 70s and 80s and these are some of the many highlights. Stretching from the New York-influenced post-punk synth funk of "Good Name" to the most authentic Afro fusion of "Why Go To War", Onyeabor's range not only reflects his clear creative skill, but also the ever-developing international language of music during the fruitful period he was active. Who is William Onyeabor? Press play and find out yourselves...
Tony Antoniou - "Send In The Night" (instrumental mix)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness"
Banzai - "Runaway"
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the sublime Afro-disco brilliance of Bebe Manga, the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" and the South American disco swirl of Don Lurio's "Ruba Ruba" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Review: Favorite Recordings' superb Disco Boogie Sounds series continues. Following Waxist's recent exploration of French productions from the period, they've decided to drop a second collection of high-grade Brazilian material. Renowned crate-digger Charles Maurice has done a terrific job of gathering together dusty, obscure cuts that perfectly encapsulate Brazilian musicians' sun-kissed, soulful approach to disco and boogie. Highlights are naturally plentiful, and include the starry, jazz-funk tinged warmth of Christina Camargo's "Minas Do Rei Salomao", the Chic style brilliance of Almir Ricardi's "To Parado Na Tua", and the cosmic, horn-heavy leftfield disco thrills of Kaito's "Cara Feia".
Ricardo Marrero & The Group - "And We'll Make Love"
Koko Ateba - "Si T'es Mal Dans Ta Peau"
Sookie - "Tonight" (feat Jeannine Otis)
Raphael Toine - "Femmes Pays Douces"
Eboni Band - "Desire"
Robert J Riggins - "I Need You Now"
Salero - "Teardrops & Wine"
Momo Joseph - "Teardrops & Wine"
Claude Genteuil - "Dreams Of Love"
Gatot Soedarto - "Sayangilah Daku Kasih"
Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language - "Pasto"
Review: Since the Beach Diggin' compilation series launched a few years back, a number of its obscure, Balearic-minded selections have been given full length reissues of their own. We can probably expect a number of the tracks from this brilliant fifth volume to get the same treatment. As usual, the wide-ranging track list is thick with highlights, from the synth-heavy, French language reggae of Raphael Toine's 1986 bubbler "Femmes Pays Douces" (taken from the artist's frustratingly hard to find Ce Ta Ou album) and vibraphone-laden jazz-funk smoothness of Yasuko Agwa's sought-after "L.A Night", to the barely-known brilliance of Andre Maria Tole's Cameroonian gem "Sweet Dole". In other words, it's another essential selection.
Tokyo Academy Philharmonic Chorus Group - "Taharazaka"
Cesar Roldao Vieira - "Ze Do Trem"
Elias Rahbani - "Dance Of Maria"
Galt MacDermot - "Coffee Cold"
Review: The crate-diggers behind the Mr Bongo label can usually be relied upon to showcase some seriously good tunes old and new. That's certainly the case on this third volume in their occasional "Record Club" series of compilations. Spanning sunshine soul, obscure samba, spacey jazz-funk experimentation, wide-eyed underground disco, fiery funk, weirdo rock, cheery South African bubblegum, synth-laden early '80s highlife, Ramsay Lewis style workouts and the psychedelic Middle Eastern disco-funk of Elias Rahbani, the compilation's 20 tracks are not only near faultless, but genuinely surprising and eye-opening. To quote a cliche, this collection genuinely is all killer and no filler.
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: Efficient Space's latest release is certainly an intriguing one. It was sparked by the discovery of a CD copy of an obscure, mid-'90s album made by the late Victorian musician Peter Mumme and three Aboriginal songmen from the Yolngu people of the Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern territory. Uniquely, the album - here reissued under a new title with an additional unreleased piece - mixed the singers' traditional vocals with impeccable ambient soundscapes, gently pulsating electronic rhythms and the kind of fluid and wide-eyed synthesizer melodies more often found on '80s new age recordings. The results still sound remarkable and, thanks to the Yolngu singing style, surprisingly haunting.
Review: The work of Northern Brazilian musician-turned-bandleader Mestre Cupijo has long fascinated record collectors. Much of the allure can be attributed to Cupijo's trademark sound, which fused African-influenced Brazilian dance music and traditional Amazonian rhythms with sounds from Colombia (notably cumbia), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The results, as showcased on six albums during the 1970s, were exciting and enthralling; a cross-pollination of sounds heavy on jaunty horns, shuffling rhythms and celebratory vocals. Here, Analog Africa presents the first in-depth retrospective of Mestre's work, hand-picking the finest tracks from his six obscure 1970s albums and offering them up in remastered form. For anyone interested in either African or Brazilian music, it should be an essential purchase.
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: Ever since its' initial 1983 release, Ahmed Fakroun's debut album, Mots D'Amour has been considered something of a global fusion classic by Balearic-minded record collectors. Initially released by legendary label Celluloid - home to some genuinely genre-bending electro, post-punk and experimental World Music - the well regarded full-length saw the Libyan singer/songwriter/musician blend traditional Arabic instrumentation and vocal harmonies with the distinctive shimmer of synthesizers, and typically Western pop production. 33 years on, the album has lost none of its' potency, with the breezy, English language track "Love Words", Talking Heads-ish "Soleil Soleil" and cheery "Kalimat Hob" standing out.
Review: Frankfurt label Infracom presents the second edition of Saigon Supersound. The bustling Vietnamese capital at the time was often depicted as the 'Pearl of Southeast Asia' and it is here that the label presents more interesting tunes from a musical era that has long been obscured. Label boss Jan Hagenkoetter is delighted to dig deeper and share with you the beautiful music of this short but significant period in the country's history between 1954-1965. Its diversity explores Vietnamese bolero music, rock and roll influenced by American troops who brought their music to the city, plus traditional folk crossover, latin influences and satirical musical theatre.
Review: During the 1960s and '70s, there were few greater exponents of "Forro" - a North-Eastern Brazilian style with some similarities to traditional styles of Colombian dance music - than Camarao. The talented accordionist, composer and band-leader recorded a string of fine albums between 1964 and '74, and it's tracks from these that make up The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie, Analog Africa's fine retrospective of the Camarao's work. Musically, it's a blast - a real melting pot of jaunty, grab-a-partner styles and sounds, rich in memorable horn lines, dazzling solos and fast-past accordion motifs - while the accompanying 28-page booklet tells the accordionist's story in impressive detail.
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.
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.
Review: Point Of No Return, the 1974 debut album by Nigerian combo the Funkees, has long been a sought-after set amongst those who dig for Afro-Funk and Afro-Rock fusion. Here, the inspired set gets a CD reissue for the very first time. It's a fine set, all told, with much of the material sounding not unlike similarly minded British combo Cymande, who burst onto the scene two years before the Funkees made their recording debut. Dotted throughout the album you'll find fuzzier, harder-edged cuts inspired by psychedelic rock, and the electric piano-laden, William Onyeabor-ish bounce of the inspired title track. If you're in the mood for heavy percussion, wild organ lines and even heavier guitars, this should be an essential purchase.
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.
Saka Dit The King - "Ody Ody (Tsy Mentsy Mandroso)"
Michael - "Razana Tsy Ho Meloko"
Falafa - "Rapela"
Los Matadores - "Andeha Hanarato"
Nino Rafah - "Oa Niny E"
Kaiamba Orchestra - "Tokatoka"
Atrefy Andriana - "Zaka Tiako Mamolaka Keriko"
Review: It would be fair to say that few of us are familiar with the music of Madagascar, a notably beautiful island in the Indian Ocean whose indigenous culture has rarely registered in Western Europe. Yet as this fine compilation from Strut proves, the nation once boasted a vibrant recording industry whose distinctive sounds blended strong East African influences with more traditional local sounds and the ever-present inspiration of American soul, funk, disco and boogie. "Alefa Madagascar" tells this story through sound by focusing on some of the fuzzy, electrified blends of salegy, soukous and soul popular in the country between 1974 and '84. It does a bang up job, offering up 18 essential cuts that all but the most dusty-fingered crate diggers will never have heard before.
Review: These days, Hamad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian "Gandjal" music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It's those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Review: Famed for their thrilling, dancefloor-friendly fusions of West African funk and disco, American electrofunk and post-punk pop, Ibibio Sound Machine is one of the most exciting and essential bands of recent times. It's for this reason that "Doko Mien", the Eno Williams fronted band's first album for two years, is so hotly anticipated. Happily, we can confirm that it's another stunning set, with Williams and company charging through a set of sizzling songs that wrap kaleidoscopic synths, rubbery bass, fiery horns and off-kilter funk-rock guitars around grooves that variously doff a cap to '80s electro, Italo-disco, jazz-funk, Tony Allen and thrusting, mind-altering mutant disco. In other words, it's another must-have collection of cuts from the London-based band.
Review: Initially released in South Africa in 1982, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley's sophomore set is now regarded as a boogie-era Highlife classic. Here issued on CD for the very first time via Mr Bongo, the album features the Ghanaian star brilliantly joining the dots between driving disco-funk, jazz-funk, intoxicating slow jams, calypso, dub reggae and his beloved highlife. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, with standouts including heavy percussion jam "Simigwa", the boogie-dub skank of "Adwoa", the down-low grooves of "Walking Down The Street" and the killer disco highlife anthem "It's High Life". Simply essential.