Review: Altin Gun are the hottest property to come out of Istanbul in the last ten years. Fact. Led by Jacco Gardner, the 7-piece outfit specialise in the deepest, most wild-eyed psych funk available at the moment and this was clearly visible from their recent debut LP, On. A similar narrative continues here, one which resonates so well with the traditional sound of 70s Turku-funk from pioneers such as Erkin Koray or Baris Manco, and there is, quite simply, something very honest about this band. O this new 7" from the banging Bongo Joe we have "Tatli Dile Guler Yuze", a seductive vocal groove filled with aptly trippy guitar funk and Merve Dasdemir's sublime voice waving in the distance, and the quirky sounds of the instrumental cut "Hababam" - making this one of Bongo Joe's best EPs to date, and another proof-point for Altin Gun's quality. Highly recommended.
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: 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.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.
Review: Following Hot Casa's reissue of his second album The Black Isaiah Of Africa in 2017, here comes the long awaited repress of Kingsley Aigbologa Bucknor's incredible debut album. Rarer than hen's teeth, known to pass hands for triple figures and so vibrantly freeform and longform; both extensive 15+ minute tracks take up a side each as Kings and his 16 player / 10 backing singer Afrodisk Beat 79 troupe lay down two crisp Afrofunk trips. Singular.
I Don't Want No-Body (To Tell Me What To Do) (4:49)
Review: Also known as the Heads Funk Band, Akwassa were a Nigerian afrobeat ensemble who only produced a few LPs under that particular moniker, but they're ones that have lasted well in the memories of collectors worldwide. La'lla was their 1975 debut, originally out on the Afrodisia label, and we have it here once again in reissue format by PMG out of Austria. "Funky Girl" kicks the party off with a groove that is might difficult not to like - upbeat vocals meet funky synth lines and quirky organs to make a true summer blazer - but the rest of the album follows in a similarly excellent style. "Orule", for example, is one of the best undiscovered afro bombs we've heard in time, those sweet soulful vocals riding high amid a fast-paced percussion rhythm, while others are deeper still and evoke the true spirit of African soul. Very highly recommended.
Review: Since its release in 1999, Tony Allen's Black Voices album has earned a reputation as an overlooked modern classic. While a scaled-down reissue appeared on Kindred Spirits in 2014, this edition marks the first "full repress" of the original double-album version. The Doctor L-produced set remains hugely alluring, thanks largely to the warm and attractive mixture of Allen's loose and languid Afrobeat rhythms, fluid jazz and jazz-funk instrumentation and vocals that recall the legendary drummer's work with Fela Kuti. Like the original set, you'll find a number of tasty dancefloor reworks nestled on the second disc, with the fuzzy and disco-fied PsychojujuMix of "Ariya" - complete with rubbery bass and sweaty drum solos - standing out.
Review: Gbubemi Amas is hardly Nigeria's most famous musical export. He began his career at the dawn of the 1980s, enjoying a certain level of success with debut album Grill. That set, reissued here for the first time since, was in many ways typical of developments in Nigerian popular music at the time. Amas was one of a new generation of artists moving away from the Afrobeat and Highlife styles that had dominated Lagos in the 1970s, instead laying down punchy, pop-tinged cuts heavily influenced by both American dance music (and in particular disco and boogie), and AOR rock. Highlights include the tasty disco-boogie of "Slow Down", the horn-heavy dancefloor sweetness of "For You", and the atmospheric synth-pop of closer "Listen".
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.
Americo Brito & Djarama - "Rapaz Novo E Malandro" (7:32)
Cabo Verde Show - "Terra Longe" (3:30)
Elisio Vieira - "Tchon Di Somada" (4:20)
Vlu - "Rua D'Lisboa" (5:45)
Galaxia 2000 - "Coracao Dum Criola" (3:55)
Mendes & Mendes - "Mitamiyo" (5:24)
Danny Carvalho - "Roncanbai" (4:37)
Mendes & Mendes - "Walkman" (4:50)
Jose Casimiro - "La Mamai Ta Bem" (5:01)
Elisio Vieira - "Bem Di Fora" (5:35)
Zeca & Zeze Di Nha Reinalda - "Mocinhos" (4:24)
Review: Rotterdam is one of the many big port cities around the world that welcomed a high number of Cape Verdean immigrants. In the 1970s, Americo Brito was one of them and he soon got involved with the local music scene and found an ever larger community of likeminded talents. He took to the stage with his band and made for a buzzy little scene that found them tour with their own sound system. Here he works with Rotterdam local Arp Frique to serve up Cape Verdean music old and new with plenty of traditional Funana and Coladeira sounds next to jams influenced by wave, disco and funk, jazz, reggae and Latin pop.
Review: While names like Azymuth or Marcos Valle have become synonymous with Brazil's infamous 'jazz-dance' scene, it's really thanks to artists like Victor Assis Brasil that the genre has become such a staple of the enlarged jazz and funk movement. Brasil was a saxophonist in primis, and the best out out there at the time; Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim was one of his earlier albums, and it's striking to hear just how fluid and at the cutting-edge of jazz this man was in 1970. The opener "So Tinha De Sir Com Voce" is a delightfully subtle number, backed by intricate guitars and gentle pianos, while "Wave" heads down a deeper, more pensive tone with the man's sax on the front lines. "Bonita" is sweet, seductive but still full of zest and Brasil's inimitable charm on his preferred instrument, and "Dindi" winds the momentum down to a peaceful tempo that bursts with the South American continent's unmistakable glow. Excellent.
Review: This latest reissue from Awesome Tapes From Africa is the whole reason for founder Brian Shimkovitz starting the blog and the label that grew out of it. Some 13 years ago, Shimkovitz stumbled across a cassette copy of Obaa Sima whilst travelling Ghana and his love for Ata Kak's music lead to the foundation of the Awesome Tapes From Africa blog and the commencement of a long running effort to track down the Ghanaian musician. Some four years after ATFA became a label, Shimkovitz finally tracked down the musician, real name Yaw Atta-Owusu, and was granted permission to reissue Obaa Sima, using the second hand tape purchased in Ghana as the source. The seven tracks on this LP are a winning tinny combination of highlife, rap, pop, and more with "Daa Nyinaa" sounding like a cover version of William De Vaughn's "Be Thankful For What You've Got".
Review: Not that it's any surprise to us, but London's Far Out imprint is really smashing it at the moment, putting out some Brazilian fire left, right and centre. This week, along with an excellent reissue from Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos, we have 1975's Azambuja & Cia, another unforgettable gem from the Golden Era of South American funkin'! Although there are plenty of moments worth a dance on here, this album is a much gentler, more soulful number which often spans into the livelier end of the jazz spectrum. In fact, this is the vibe right here, with fat basslines coming meandering amid mild-mannered beats and the group's inimitable vocal swagger. It's another Brazilian gem, and one worth copping as a reissue. Magnificent stuff.
Review: Joe Davis' Far Out Recordings has always been at the top of our list. Without this fundamental imprint, we wouldn't have discovered a lot of Brazilian funk, soul and disco material from the 70s, and the likes of Gilles Peterson have much to thank Davis for. This particular release is even more special because, unlike the plethora of reissues on Far Out, it's a brand new album from the legendary Azymuth group, leaders in jazz-fusion and disco since their first album back in '73! Sadly, the original keyboardist, Jose Roberto Bertrami, passed away in 2012 but the younger Kiko Continentino has done a fantastic job at accompanying Ivan Conti and Alex Malheiros on this new LP. Fenix is an album of energy and magnetism, leading with the jazzy, wonked-out disco of Batucada Em Marte", and continuing into the myriad of tropical flavours that span the entirety of this excellent LP. It's disco for those that don't like to dance, or jazz for those that do - warmly recommended, of course.
Review: Before they found fame with their 1975 debut album, Azymuth divided their time between working as backing musicians (attending recording sessions with some of Brazil's top talent) and recording experimental home demos. Recently rediscovered, these demos are finally being given a release thanks to the efforts of Far Out chief Joe Davis. There's much to admire on this first batch (a second volume is also available) of previously unheard early recordings, from the high-octane Brazilian funk insanity of "Prefacio" and Jimmy Smith-esque "Melo De Cuica", to the spacey samba/jazz-funk fusion of "Xingo (Version One)" and the relaxed, slow-burn brilliance of seven minute B-side opener "Laranjeiras".
Review: Paris' Heavenly Sweetness label is rightly proud of this 30th volume in the Ethiopiques series. It's a cross-generational collaboration between legendary Ethiopian singer and keyboardist Girma Beyene - best known for his jazz work in the late 1960s - and contemporary Parisian band Akala Wube. Given that the latter is dedicated to creating music inspired by Ethiopian music of the '60s and '70s, it's little surprise to find that Mistakes On Purpose is a hugely enjoyable and authentic-sounding set (think funk, soul and jazz with an East African twist). To add an extra level of authenticity, Ethiopiques founder and East African music specialist Francis Falceto acted as producer.