Review: Originally released in Kenya way back in 1987, "Hinde" was the sole single from an obscure outfit called African Vibration. The track has since gone on to become something of a sought-after gem; a sparse, drum machine-driven, synthesizer-sporting jam that offers a uniquely tropical and wholeheartedly East African take on electro/synth-pop fusion. Happily, Soundway has decided to issue it on 12" for the first time, having previously included in on 2016's superb "Kenya Special: Volume 2" compilation. The brilliant original comes accompanied by a fresh Julian Dyne rework that makes more of the original's fluttering, sun-kissed synths and rainforest sound effects. It's a little deeper, dreamier and exceptionally blissful; in fact, you could almost describe it as being "Balearic".
Review: German-Ghanaian group the Polyversal Souls have previously collaborated with a number of bands and solo artists from West Africa, so this hook-up with Northern Ghanaian outfit the Bolga All Stars - a collective made up of leading local kologo and frafra-gospel singers and musicians - should not come as much of a surprise. Separated into two parts for the seven-inch release, the track blends the Polyversal Souls' lolloping, late '60s style Afro-funk grooves - complete with fuzzy, period style production - and sharp horn section with glistening guitars, snaking solos and fine vocals from the Bolga All Stars. It's one of the Polyversal Souls' finest releases yet, and that's saying something.
Review: First released last summer, Cotonete and Roberto Di Melo's "AEIOU" is a deliciously warm and woozy chunk of jazz-funk/revivalist Latin disco fusion that sounds like it was recorded in 1978 rather than 2018. This time round, Dimitri From Paris is at the controls, offering up two arguably superior "Special Disco Mixes" that not only boasts more audio clarity around key instrumental parts (particularly the horns, walking bassline and previously buried Clavinet lines) but also add some fizzing new electrofunk synths. As a result, the A-side vocal version sounds like a disco scene anthem in waiting, while the high-octane flipside dub is percussive, sweaty and full throttle in the best possible way.
Review: Long before digging South American and African music became popular, Patrick Forge and Chris Franck were serving up club-focused jams that drew heavily on the musical traditions of both continents. It is, then, a good time for them to return from a five-year hiatus with a brand new EP. It's every bit as colourful, vibrant and floor-friendly, with all three cuts hitting the mark. Leading the charge is fantastic A-side "Oba Lata", a supremely sun-kissed Afro-beat affair rich in Africa 70s style guitars, Tony Allen-esque drum patterns and life-affirming vocals. On the flip you'll find a punchy, off-kilter broken beat revision from contemporary bruk hero Namebrandsound, as well as the deep, languid and Rhodes-laden shuffle of "Dakar", a more considered number that nevertheless leaves a lasting impression.
Review: To mark the label's 50th release, the team behind Names You Can Trust has snagged a fresh cut from the band that started it all back in 2007, Greenwood Rhythm Coalition. Fittingly, it also happens to the Afro-Caribbean-Latin-Funk fusionists' first single of any sort for nigh on five years. "Jewels" is delightfully hard to pigeonhole: a suitably tropical excursion that giddily melds elements of tropical disco, dub, cumbia, funk, soul and Afrobeat into something warm, addictive and floor-friendly. It's lopped into two parts on this seven-inch release, with the second being notably more percussive and heavy than the already weighty A-side.
Review: Mukatsuku's long running "Afro Funk & Disco Gems" series has always been a reliable source of obscure, high-quality dancefloor material from the African continent. This tenth edition is another must-have - on the A-side you'll find the synth-laden, boogie-era sunshine of "Everybody Dance", one of the undisputed highlights of Peter Yamson's in-demand (and notably hard to find) "Son Of Africa" LP. With wonderful vocals, glistening guitars, lolloping drum machine beats and some stellar synth work, the track ticks all the right boxes. Over on the flip there's a chance to own Cameroon legend Tala Andre Marie's 1981 classic "Get Up Tchamassi", whose snaking sax lines, elastic slap bass and dreamy chords are nothing less than sensational.As played by The Allergies,Smoov,Kalita, Faze Action,DJ Moar etc
Review: Nickodemus steers the well-travelled Wonderwheel in the direction of Chad, a country often overlooked in global music conversations. After an invitation to travel to the country's capital, N'Djamena, to teach DJing and production, Nickodemus and DJ Buosis set up a pop-up studio to record unique sessions between young musicians from Cameroon, Chad, Congo and Togo. The end result of this cultural melting pot is Desert To Douala, a rich and varied document of sparkling, original tracks with danceable punch and joyous energy in droves. You won't have heard music quite like this before, such is the nature of the project, and that makes it all the more exciting. Alongside an 11-track CD album, this wonderful double pack 7" release cherry picks some of the compilation's highlights and commits them to wax.
Review: Should you fancy tracking down an original seven-inch copy of Patrizia Saronni's sole single, 1984's double A-side "Perche Dovrei/E Poi", it would be wise to take out a bank loan. For those on more modest budgets, this reissue should be a must-buy. The release's calling card nestles on side B, where you'll find a previously unheard "Tape Version" of the chugging, alien and otherworldly "Perche Dovrei" (Italian for "Why should I", fact fans) that's arguably a more dancefloor-friendly proposition thanks to throbbing arpeggio-style bass and locked-in drums. A-side opener "E Poi", a slightly more cheery, synth-pop influenced affair that snugly fits the Italo-disco template, is also impressive.
Review: It's been a fair old while since we last heard from Tropical Jam, the sneaky re-edit imprint from Vakula and Aussie crate digger Daniel Lupica. Surprisingly, this is the duo's first 10-inch missive of humid, floor-friendly revisions since the summer of 2018. They begin in a suitably sunny mood, offering up an on-point rearrangement of a cheery, sax-laden Afro-synth workout that sounds like it originated in the early 1980s. The A-side also boasts a second bubbly synth workout, possibly of a South African cut from the same period, where jaunty Clavinet lines and male/female vocals rise above a sparse but funky groove. Side B, meanwhile, contains a more Balearic-minded electronic cut rich in lo-fi drum machine beats, dreamy chords, chiming lead lines and glassy-eyed vocal snippets.
Review: According to the South American music specialists at Matasuna Records, Ralph Weeks' 1971 single "Let Me Do My Thing" - recorded alongside backing Los Dinamicos Exciters - is arguably the most sought-after Panamanian soul record around. As this reissue proves, Weeks' original version is rubbery, heavy and rousing, with the singer's rasping lead vocal soaring above a weighty backing track that sounds like a breezier take on the New York boogaloo sound. On the flip, Voodoocuts tools it up for modern dancefloors, underpinning his club-ready edit with punchy new drums that give the cut more of a breakbeat style swing.
Review: A brief glance at a high-profile second-hand vinyl website confirms that original copies of Henry Wenceslas Thenard's obscure 1985 zouk cut "Ne Dis Pas Cela" (or, as we say in English, "Don't Say That") are not only incredibly hard to come by, but also change hands for extortionate amounts. This reissue, then, is rather handy for those without super-sized record-buying budgets. Thenard's jaunty, horn-heavy and sun-kissed original version resides on the A-side, with Mr Bird providing fresh reworks on the flip. On his "Rework", the French scene veteran gives the cut a disco-zouk feel, placing choice elements of Thenard's original mix (mainly the horns and vocals) above a chunky new beat. That beat naturally comes to the fore on his admirably percussive DJ Tool.
Como Tu Me Despreciaste (feat Samy Sandoval) (5:15)
Mame Lele (feat Alfredo Payne & Latin Fresh) (4:00)
Lo Que Tu Eres Para Mi (feat Camilo Azuquita) (3:17)
Dog War (3:24)
Como Me Dirias Que No (feat Alfredo Payne) (3:18)
Going To Bocas (4:29)
Africa Caliente (version Cincuenta) (5:28)
The Beachers & Pureza Natural - "Bocas Del Toro" (3:15)
Review: 2019 marks 50 years since The Beachers formed in their home country of Panama. That they're not only still going strong but also capable of conjuring up magical albums like "Cincuenta" - their 13th in total - is remarkable in anyone's book. Long-term fans will tell you that this isn't actually a brand new set, having first appeared in 2017, but this is the first time it has appeared on vinyl. It remains a humid, vibrant and sun-kissed affair, with the veteran combo serving up ten tracks that gleefully join the dots between soca, calypso, ska, reggae, traditional Panamanian music and the more dancefloor-focused sounds of Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela. In other words, it's business as usual for the acclaimed Panamanian fusionists.
Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz - "Sickness" (7:36)
Osayomore Joseph & The Creative 7 - "Obonogbozu" (6:50)
Felixson Ngasia & The Survivals - "Black Precious Colour" (7:12)
Sina Bakare - "Africa" (5:29)
Saxon Lee & The Shadows International - "Special Secret Of Baby" (8:45)
International Brothers Band - "Onuma Dimnobi" (8:19)
Don Bruce & The Angels - "Kinuye" (5:50)
Etubom Rex Williams & His Nigerian Artistes - "Psychedelic Shoes" (6:14)
Rogana Ottah & His Black Heroes Int - "Let Them Say" (8:48)
Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Titibitis - "Iziegbe (Ekassa No 70)" (7:16)
MA Jaiyesimi & His Crescent Bros Band - "Mundiya Loju" (3:04)
Review: As part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, Strut has decided to bring back the compilation series that first put the label on the map: "Nigeria 70". Curated by Duncan Brooker, this latest volume in the series is the first for eight years. It's another history lesson, with Brooker largely focusing on exposing the musical links between the music of Nigeria and Benin. You get a white-hot mixture of Highlife, Afro-Funk and Ju-Ju, mostly hand-picked from albums and singles that are near impossible for mere mortals to find. Interestingly, this edition doesn't just contain heavy cuts from the '70s, but also more synth-powered songs from the 1980s, too. As you'd expect, it makes for terrific listening.
Review: In 1970, 23 year-old Brazilian vocalist Celia Cruz headed into the studio with legendary producer and arranger Arthur Verocai to record the first of four eponymous albums that would go on to become "MPB" classics. Here, Mr Bongo offers up a timely reissue of that highly regarded debut, a set that giddily flits between soaring, orchestrated samba-pop ("Cheia Durango Kid", "David"), sun-kissed ballads ("To Be"), tributes to the songwriting prowess of the Beatles (see "Abrace Paul McCartney", whose strings tip a wink to "Eleanor Rigby", and the brassy, up-tempo beat pop of "Lennon - McCartney") and carnival-ready workouts ("Fotograma").
Review: Released deep in the throes of her tenure as Nigerian pop's 'First Lady Of Song', "Give Me A Chance" is the fifth album and the first reissue since its 1980 by the late great Christy Essien captures just why she became such a universally loved artist; Essien can tap any type of groove and make it her own. From the country blues of "Give Me A Chance" to the warm reggae bubbles of "Ife" via the afrodisco of "Rumours" and all fusions in between, the combination Christy's powerful presence and super tight band made this one of her best albums.
Groove Ma Poule (feat Djeuhdjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson) (3:54)
Daddy Sweet (feat Pat Kalla) (6:18)
Li Dous Konsa (5:59)
Kenk Corner (3:50)
Sa Ce Kado (6:25)
Shake It & Rise Up (4:05)
Nosso Carimbo E Do Mundo (feat Pinduca & Nazar Peirera) (3:53)
Se Nou Menm (4:06)
Boug Bagay La (4:23)
Penda (feat Emma Lamadji & Kandy Guira) (3:48)
Review: Under the Guts guise, instrumental hip-hop beat-maker turned tropical soul enthusiast Fabrice Franck Henri has become one of Heavenly Sweetness' most reliable artists. "Philantropiques" is Henri's first album for three years and could well be his most expansive and adventurous to date. The set's 14 tracks are as colourful and musically rich as you'd expect, with the storied producer and a range of vocal collaborators conjuring up tracks that draw influence from a myriad of Central American, Caribbean, South American and African styles. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the tropical shuffle of "Mucagiami (feat Vum Vum)", the sun-kissed French Caribbean funk of "Daddy Sweet (feat Pat Kalla)", the Afro-Tropical rush of "Kenk Corner" and the synth-powered brilliance of "Shake It and Rise Up".