Review: Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band first came through on Sublime Frequencies, back in 2015, with a sublime LP that carried the ethereal sounds of contemporary Afro jazz. The outfit are back, this time on France's Mawimbi imprint, with a corker by the name of "Wasso". Taking inspiration from the school of Fela and Tony Allen, this is deep-minded funkiness with a political edge - a contemporary afrobeat killer! The remixes are no less intriguing, starting off with the electronic nuttiness of Loya's version, followed by the 'broken', beat-driven remix from Mr Boom, and even an Afro version. A done deal, in our opinion...
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: 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: 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: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
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.
Review: The Busy Twist run a really interesting operation... Inspired by the UK's bass movement, the London-based producers have recorded extensively in their native Ghana, giving this a truly international tongue. A fine case in point is Drumtalk's remix of the brilliantly titled "Auntie Fatty": riddled with all manner of chopped up chants and percussion, there's a very familiar riff on the drop. "Floor Excitement" is another highlight; the vocals are reminiscent of a Wookie plate but delivered with heartwarming gusto. Technically this is an EP... But with such a bounty of tropical treats, this is almost album material.
Review: According to the South American fusionists who run Names You Can Trust, Buyepongo is one of the leading lights on the Los Angeles "tropical underground", a scene known for fusing traditional rhythms and instrumentation with more streetwise contemporary influences. The two cuts showcased here were recorded in an analog-rich New York studio, and are apparently particularly popular with the group's Los Angeles fans. A-side "Por La Vida" is a real killer - a jaunty, dub-fuelled Cumbia outing rich in dancing accordion lines and Tito Puente style percussion. Flipside "Miri" is way more tropical in tone, doffing a cap towards the Caribbean and low-slung 1960s psychedelia whilst remaining close to the band's South American roots.
Review: DJ Gandharva and Von Yodi's long serving Budabeats label is always a trusted source for razor sharp disco digs and more esoteric sounds from the four corners of the earth, and they continue their recent leap to vinyl with this stunning selection of jams from the southern hemisphere. Letta Mbulu's Soweto funk gets a little edit treatment from Petko Turner, while BeTe takes on Camila Costa's gorgeous Ponto Das Caboclas for a perfect sundown reflection led by tender acoustic strumming. Chillum Trio work up a sweat over Ebo Taylor's "Odofo Nyi Akyiri Biara", creating a certifiable party burner in the process, and then Birdhouse completes the package with the irrepressibly funky "Berimbao".
Review: The funk dust from Bahama Soul Club's fourth studio album Havana 58 has barely had a moment to settle and along comes an equally timeless collection of versions. In keeping with the original spirit, the full soul range is explored but done so with a much firmer focus on the dancefloor; ZouZouElectric's dubby house glimmers on "Tropicana Flight", Opolopo's sweet shuffled jack on "Dizzy's Bounce" and Suonho's sultry piano-primed disco are just three of the nine awesome sunkissed twists crammed onto the 180 gram vinyl. Perfectly timed for the summer, too...