Egypt

Ahwar is a perfect amalgamation of traditional Egyptian song with experimental takes on performance and instrumentation. And Nadah el Shazly’s is a voice, as both singer and songwriter, that will haunt your dreams for days after listening to this album.

Nadah el Shazly is part of a burgeoning underground music scene in Egypt that has been rightly garnering more and more interest of late. Having started out in music in a Cairo punk band singing Misfits covers, El Shazly gradually moved into homemade electronic music before alighting on the mystical hybrid between rock, avant-garde music and electronica that forms the core of Ahwar (“marshlands” in Arabic). With Libyan guitarist Sam Shalabi and fellow Cairo native Maurice Louca (both members of The Dwarfs Of East Agouza with Alan Bishop) adding their prodigious talents to the fray, El Shazly has joined together past and present to position herself at the forefront of the new North African music scene.

Her voice is singularly seductive throughout, even on the album’s wilder moments (more on those later). On the lengthy, mostly acoustic ‘Barzakh (Limen)’, she mutters broodingly over chugging acoustic guitar chords as flutes, fiddles and muted percussion create a stark, intensely morose atmosphere in the background. El Shazly’s diction is precise as she lingers over the lyrics, slowly releasing them in unhurried flows. A stark electronic passage takes over from the acoustic instruments midway through the track and her voice soars into the upper register, heavy with emotion. Comparisons have been made with singers like Annette Peacock or Björk but these fall way off the mark as El Shazly’s singing is distinctly Egyptian in style, her beautiful voice contorting in ways few western singers are able to, bar the underrated American folk singer Jessika Kenney.

If ‘Barzakh (Limen)’ and a cover of legendary Egyptian singer Sayyid Darwish’s ‘Ana ‘Ishiqt (I Once Loved)’ indicate a deep connection to Egyptian musical traditions, El Shazly is equally unafraid to experiment. ‘Ana ‘Ishiqt (I Once Loved)’ features similar arresting vocals from the singer as she floats over a tapestry of kalimba (thumb piano) and harp notes but she also introduces gristly noise electronics and blaring sax into the mix, adding to the song’s forlorn desperation. Opener ‘Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory)’ is a blast in comparison, a demented sonic exploration which opens with mutated vocals blaring all over the musical spectrum as brooding string drones flutter in and out of focus. Gradually, fitfully, the assembled musicians kick into a Can-like funk-rock rhythm with El Shazly sussurating the multitracked vocals. The song progresses at a lumbering pace, full of tempo shifts and weird effects before collapsing in on itself. At the crossroads of jazz, funk, rock and electronica all at once, ‘Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory)’ is a hazy, frightening, weird and wondrous labyrinth of a piece.

A deliciously retro keyboard riffs from Maurice Louca dominates ‘Palmyra’, clearly a lament for the destruction of the historic Syrian city and the album’s emotional heart, with El Shazly’s soaring vocals particularly affecting. The instrumental ‘Koala’, in contrast, is heavy and freeform, featuring a wonderful middle section of battling horns, drums, guitar and keyboards. It could almost be an early 70s Soft Machine jam, the interplay quite simply electrifying as it soars between experimental rock and avant-jazz territory. Closer ‘Mahmiya (Protectorate)’ is another showcase for Nadah el Shazly’s exquisite voice, as she stretches it far into the upper registers over delicately plucked oud notes and woozy slide guitar, and even it has its weirder moments, as ominous repeated piano chords and grim guitar arpeggios are allied to ethereal, haunting wordless vocals in the final section. -Joseph Burnet

1. Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory) 4:39
2. Barzakh (Limen) 8:19
3. Palmyra 5:10
4. Ana 'Ishiqt (I Once Loved) 6:34
5. Koala 7:05
6. Mahmiya (Protectorate) 6:09

Birmingham, Alabama

A fantastic take on the music of Sun Ra – a set that looks at the way his sounds dovetailed with the exotica movement in American music of the postwar years. Given that he claimed to be from outer space, Ra was already pretty darn exotic himself – but his music also arose at a time when artists like Martin Denny and Les Baxter were taking global sounds and fusing them into more mainstream American music, including jazz – with results that have become legendary over the years. And while Denny, Baxter, and other contemporaries were more involved with mood music, Ra was part of a generation of jazz musicians – such as Yusef Lateef or Wilbur Harden – who were working a richer vein of the territory for jazz – as you'll hear in these wonderful tracks. The set brings together key sides from the earliest Ra recordings, plus some unissued material too – done in the really great style of the other Modern Harmonic reissues in recent years. Unissued titles include "April In Paris", "Paradise", "Star Bright", "Spontaneous Simplicity", "Somewhere In Space", and "Cha Cha In Outer Space" – and other titles include "Overtones Of China", "Tiny Pyramids", "The Nile (part 1)", "Kingdom Of Thunder", "Ancient Aiethopia", "India", "Friendly Galaxy", and "Africa" – plus the complete version of "Island In The Sun". (Limited edition of 1000!)

Sensuous dreamscapes to transport the listener to the lush tropical environs of the outer reaches of the omniverse. Your choice of three colorful inter-stellar saucers or two compact saucers of “Exotic-Ra” bringing you to a lush cocktail party where space is the place. All packaged in a beautiful Chesley Bonestell adorned gatefold package with two sets of extensive notes. Incongruous? Listening to the 25 tracks herein will showcase that Sun Ra was, indeed, an Exoticat of sorts, albeit in his own unique way, of course. That Sun Ra hasn’t been celebrated in Exotica circles is understandable. Though many collectors are fans of both, at cocktail soirées Ra has never seemed to make the cut. This album aims to change that. While Sun Ra never made an “Exotica record,” such tracks are mixed in his LPs alongside idiosyncratic space jazz, post-bop, electronic freakouts, and his other sonic experiments. Never an easy categorical fit, anyone who says “File Under: Jazz” doesn’t understand the stylistic breadth of Sun Ra’s recorded legacy. It’s a rhapsodic pandemonium of Afro-centric rhythms, Latin beats, ostinato grooves, and unissued tunes.

When fans think "Exotica," the names that come to mind are Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter, Esquivel, and countless others. But Sun Ra? 

Here, we offer an illustrative passage from John Szwed's indispensable 1997 Ra biography, Space is the Place. For context, Szwed is chronicling the evolution of Ra's style in the late 1950s, when the budding legend was based in Chicago, leading a midsized ensemble (already dubbed an "Arkestra"), and still working largely in subgenres identifiable as "jazz." Szwed's reflections on Sunny's absorption with Exotica align the Afrofuturist icon with an unlikely musical inspiration: 

[quote] "Sunny was listening to the Hollywood-inspired music being made by people like David Rose, whose lush, massed string writing could be heard as theme songs on popular radio programs; or to the exotica of people like Martin Denny, who recorded in Honolulu accompanied by animal noises, natural acoustic delay, and reverberation; and especially to the arrangements of Les Baxter, the premier figure in what was being called mood music. 

"Baxter developed a post-swing style in the late forties and early fifties of spectacular orchestral writing, full of timpani and hand drums, tumbling violin lines, harps, flutes, marimbas, celesta, Latin rhythm vamps, the cries of animals, choral moans, and flamboyant singers, creating imaginary soundscapes which he helped evoke with titles like 'Atlantis,' 'Voodoo Dreams,' and 'Pyramid of the Sun.' Sunny first heard Baxter on Perfume Set to Music (1946) and Music Out of the Moon (1947). Baxter went on to produce records which celebrated the Aztecs (The Sacred Idol, 1959), South Asia (Ports of Pleasure, 1957), Africa and the Middle East (Tamboo!, 1955), and the Caribbean (Caribbean Moonlight, 1956), all of which used Latin rhythms generically, as did his two big band records, African Jazz (1958) and Jungle Jazz (1959). Though later generations would understand this music in strictly utilitarian terms, and hear in it the sounds of air conditioning and the clink of ice in cocktail shakers, for Sunny it was music rich with imagination and suggestion. His genius was to take as raw material what others in the 1950s thought of as 'easy listening' and turn it into what in the late 1960s would be heard as 'Third World music' by some and as 'uneasy listening music' by others." [/quote] 

Perhaps it's enough to say that Ra and Baxter were both musically omnivorous. However, Baxter, like Sunny, composed music that resisted the Earth's gravitational pull. His 1958 LP Space Escapade contained titles that share a vision with Ra: "Saturday Night on Saturn," "Moonscape," "A Distant Star," "The Other Side of the Moon," and "A Look Back at Earth." His 1947 Music Out of the Moon is arguably the Rosetta Stone of outer space Exotica. Like Sunny, Baxter was an early adopter of the Moog synthesizer—he released the album Moog Rock in 1969, the same year Sunny found himself in Gershon Kingsley's Manhattan studio exploring the circuit-based sounds of the new instrument (featured on tracks he would self-release as My Brother the Wind). And Ra's 1957 debut LP Jazz by Sun Ra included Harry Revel's "Possession," which had first been introduced on Baxter's album Perfume Set to Music. 

In a 1996 eulogy for Baxter in Wired magazine, David Toop wrote that "Baxter offered package tours in sound, selling tickets to sedentary tourists who wanted to stroll around some taboo emotions before lunch, view a pagan ceremony, go wild in the sun or conjure a demon, all without leaving home hi-fi comforts in the white suburbs." 

Was Exotica kitsch? Did it represent "cultural appropriation"? Was it a dilution of indigenous art? Who cares? Music should be enjoyed on its own terms. The Beatles were heavily influenced by American R&B. Ra borrowed from Gershwin and Stan Kenton. Nigerian juju music was radically altered by the infusion of electric guitars and Western rock. This is how styles develop and evolve. Exotica has roots, but those roots are uncopyable. What emerges is something derivative, yet original. Here you have Sun Ra, of African-American extraction, influenced by Les Baxter, a Caucasian from Texas, who was in turn influenced by primitive jungle rites. It's a cultural feedback loop, best enjoyed by leaving politics out of it.

Herman Poole "Sonny" Blount was born in 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, where racial discrimination was endemic and historic. Music became his solace. During the late 1940s and 1950s he lived on Chicago's South Side, a black racial enclave. It was a culturally vibrant, if economically downtrodden community. Like many of his neighbors, Ra struggled to earn a living and aspired to move on. However, "travel" takes many forms, not all measured in miles. Paul Youngquist, in a chapter entitled "Interplanetary Exotica," from his 2016 book A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism, writes: "One of [Sun Ra's] responses to the confinement of blacks, segregated as they were in Chicago's South Side and other such urban spaces […] involved deploying the cultural rhetoric of the Space Age toward the progressive ends of opening up wider vistas, new horizons. If blacks couldn't flourish in segregated cities, then maybe they could follow exotica into space." 

Mainstream Exotica's sensuous dreamscapes underscored middle-class post-war optimism, providing rhapsodies for midcentury moderns. Ra knew the despair of the underclass, and created art that was no less escapist. Music could be transcendent; it could transport the listener. The root word "exotic" implies something strange, something unfamiliar, a place that's — anywhere but here. Maybe you can't afford a cruise to Barbados, but a stylus in a cheap microgroove LP could be a ticket to paradise—or the moon—for 20 minutes. 

That Ra hasn't been widely celebrated in Exotica circles is understandable. He never made an "Exotica record"; such tracks are mixed in his LPs alongside space jazz, post-bop, electronic freakouts, and sonic experiments. Another reason: the most acclaimed Exotica LPs were "clean." The labels and producers strived for technical perfection. Ra's catalog—indeed his style—is redolent with wrong notes, indifferent mixes, ad hoc mic placement, ill-tuned instruments, distortion, and dollar-store acoustics. Perfectionism? With Sun Ra, it’s all perfectly flawed. But where it lacks sonic purity, it offers something more gratifying: soul. 

Ra is not known for cocktail party accompaniment or Tiki bar soundscapes. But here's a few dozen recordings that might suit the mood. 

[adapted from the full LP/CD package liner notes by Irwin Chusid]

1-1 Kingdom Of Thunder 3:50
1-2 Space Mates (Abridged) 4:43
1-3 Star Bright 2:25
1-4 The Nile, Part 1 4:58
1-5 Eve 5:50
1-6 Tiny Pyramids 3:38
1-7 The Lady With The Golden Stockings 7:42
1-8 Paradise 4:27
1-9 New Horizons 3:02
1-10 Portrait Of The Living Sky 1:48
1-11 India 4:48
1-12 Ancient Aiethopia 9:14
1-13 Planet Earth 4:55
1-14 April In Paris 3:55
2-1 Island In The Sun (Complete Version) 10:21
2-2 Africa 5:05
2-3 Friendly Galaxy 4:51
2-4 Interstellar Low Ways 8:24
2-5 The Conversion Of J.P. (Abridged) 7:00
2-6 Cha-Cha In Outer Space 4:36
2-7 Brazilian Sun 3:56
2-8 Lights On A Satellite 3:38
2-9 Somewhere In Space 6:13
2-10 Spontaneous Simplicity 3:01
2-11 Overtones Of China 4:18

Jamaica

Absolute KILLER Studio One selection

Studio One's music in the 1970s took the label to new heights. The new style of Disco Mix brought many areas of Reggae together - Roots, Lovers, Disco and Dub all came together in extended form, re-versioning classic hits, experimenting with new studio technology, over-dubbing, syn-drums and more producing what many fans describe as the most creative and innovative phase in the history of the legendary Studio One Records. This Studio One Disco Mix album includes many sought after classic tunes only ever released in very small quantities (on Studio One's very first 12" records as well as it's infamous Music Lab 10"s out of New York) and consequently many of these track s have been unavailable since their day of release. Studio One Disco Mix features many of the classic Studio One artists such as Alton Ellis, Sugar Minott, Jackie Mittoo and Willie Williams (with his classic re-versioning of his own "Armigideon Time") alongside less well artists such as Doreen Schaeffer, Judah Eskender Tafari and George Dudley and many more.

*Re-press of this long-unavailable Soul Jazz classic* "Buss it non-stop" - just one listen to the opening of Lloyd Robinson and Devon Russell's impressions' inflected 'Push push' and you should be as enthralled as we were by this cd of specials. The 'discomix' phenomenon was reggae music's reaction to the extended space and form made possible by the technological development of the twelve inch single, created to allow greater flexibility for club deejays to extend, splice or plain muck around with the music. Reggae seized the opportunity to showcase the vocal and the dub, which had previously been forceed to share opposite sides of seven inch singles. As a listening experience the flow works beautifully - from known greats - Willie Williams, Leonard Ethiopian Dillon, Alton Ellis, Sugar Minott next to lesser known artists such as George Dudley, Doreen Scaeffer, George Allen, Norma White on a killer remake of Chic's 'I want your love' and a very youthful sounding Judah Eskender Tafari. Add to this Jackie Mittoo revisiting 'Satta Massagana'. Class contributions from the Brentford Road musicians as ever, Coxsone gets busy with synthesizers, drum machines and the tell-tale syn drums which pepper these lengthy killer tunes. The vibes are so right....

Studio One Disco Mix combines rarity with familiarity like the best of Soul Jazz's Studio One series. Big names in reggae fill out half of the tracks and more obscure songs coming from lesser artists fill out the rest. The 12" single was pioneered in Jamaica with these extended 12" disco mixes. They are very appropriate for the Studio One series because they include elements of dub, roots reggae, lovers rock, and early dancehall -- all backed by Studio One's famous instrumentals. Most of these tracks open with the original vocal and with the dubbed instrumental following. Willie Williams, Alton Ellis, Dub Specialist, and Jackie Mittoo all have incredible songs on this compilation. The 12" format seems to have allowed reggae artists to take these tracks further than they could on 7" singles. There is definitely more to these 12" versions, with a density to the tracks that makes them stand out in the Studio One catalog. Norma White & Brentford Disco Set's "I Want Your Love" is the best example of a song benefiting from an elaborated, extended version. It's the only "pure" disco song (in the American sense of the word) included on the compilation. It shows the potential of a disco mix with the straightforward chorus being highlighted so well by the dub version. The dub version leaves the chorus in and lets the huge percussion drive the song. "I Want Your Love" may resemble American disco too much for reggae fans, but the way the dub version brings out the drums and hi-hat makes it a classic of either genre. The 12" extended disco mix format is perfect for getting a full view of reggae in its golden age. Soul Jazz is lucky to be able to draw upon such a wealth of rare music that has not been re-released until now. -AllMusic Review by Matt Whalley

1. Lloyd & Devon - Push Push 6:18
2. Judah Eskender Tafari - Rastafari Tell You 3:24
3. Doreen Schaefer - Ain't Gonna Change My Mind 3:01
4. Dub Specialist - Lagos 2:59
5. George Allen - Be Wise Brethren 2:31
6. Jackie Mittoo - Night In Ethiopia 7:19
7. George Dudley - Gates Of Zion 5:47
8. The Silvertones - Come Forward 2:55
9. The Ethiopian - Muddy Water 3:04
10. Willie Williams & Brentford Disco Set - Armegideon Time 2:25
11. Willie Williams & Brentford Disco Set - Armagideon Time (Version) 2:36
12. Norma White & Brentford Disco Set - I Want Your Love 3:37
13. Norma White & Brentford Disco Set - I Want Your Love (Version) 3:40
14. Alton Ellis - You Make Me Happy 5:57
15. Sugar Minott - Love And Understanding 7:12
16. Winston Francis, Jackie Mittoo & Brentford Rockers - Going To Zion 6:54

Note
Incl. booklet

Jamaica

Continuing the Studio 1 Series this album features classic and rare Dub tracks from Studio One, many available for the first time in over thirty years. Studio One Dub includes the dubs of many classic tracks such as Horace Andy’s “Skylarkin”, Johnny Osbourne’s “Truth and Rights”, John Holt’s “Hooligan”, Freddie McGregor’s “Bobby Bobylon” plus many more rare tracks. In short, this is an essential album!

The timing of the Soul Jazz label's most recent overviews of the massive Studio One catalog have been eerily prescient. Of course, the decision to box their earlier discs into one set came just in time for Christmas, but their ska sampler from earlier this year was the imprint's most politically charged release yet, crammed with joyous, rebellious music to meet election year head-on. Now, with Sir Coxsone Dodd's passing a few weeks back, Soul Jazz's newest collection, Studio One Dub, cannot help but to serve as loving tribute to this giant of a man who not only defined popular music for the isle of Jamaica, but for the world over, his innovations laying the foundations for hip-hop, dance and post-rock.

As the liner notes attest, dub is the music of the studio engineers and the sound-system rulers, producers who expand their recorded music sans-musicians by endlessly recycling rhythms and melodies, toying with timing and time itself, and making ceaseless mutations using studio technology. "Dub plates" originally alluded to the reference discs and soft acetates that studios would cut by day for exclusive airings by select Jamaican sound systems at night. As the engineers started dropping the vocals in and out of the mix, adding effects to the remaining tracks of drum and bass, a new genre of music was formed. Though never the eccentric genius caricature that Lee "Scratch" Perry was, nor the solid master craftsman that King Tubby was, Dodd's dubs drew on such a fertile ground of classic Jamaican rhythms that he rarely missed. As such, it's difficult to find fault with the versions presented here.

Culling 17 selections from literally thousands of discs made by Dodd and engineer Sylvan Morris between 1966 and 1972 is a thankless task, and will always remain a slight sampling of the music created during that era, but as many of these cuts are ridiculously rare (only appearing in small batches on a temporal medium, usually with silk-screened sleeves), their preservation in plastic is crucial to understanding the depths of these songs and the skills of the technicians involved. Even the instantly recognizable beats of Horace Andy's "Skylarking", "Mr. Jollyman" and "Mr. Bassie" (renamed "Sky Rhythm", "Taurus Dub No.2", and "Chase Them Version" respectively) are tweaked in such a way as to remain unpredictable, reconfigured with new angles and instrumental combinations.

"Creator Version" strips Dawn Penn's succulent coos off of "No No No", revealing the sinewy bass and pumping elasticity underneath, while cutting Delroy Wilson's vocal is reduced to a humming trace wrapped around the hand drums of "Running Dub". Dodd's distorted meltdown of Jackie Mittoo's organ notes for his version of "In Cold Blood" is noisy enough to make even Pan Sonic fans smile, and perhaps take a moment to realize the true heights of this man's unfathomable talent and unbeknownst, unassuming touch behind the boards. Surrounded by all of the prime players of Studio One, and echoing of some of his most crucial hits from Burning Spear, Johnny Osbourne and John Holt, this burning set celebrates Dodd's extraordinary life by mashing time and space until it's joyfully suspended. What better tribute could there be? -Andy Beta

1. Bionic Dub: Vin Gordon "Red Blood"
2. Take A Ride Version: Al Campbell "Take A Ride"
3. Sky Rhythm: Horace Andy "Skylarking"
4. Taurus Dub 2: Horace Andy "Mr. Jollyman"
5. Hooligan: John Holt "Change Your Style (Hooligan)"
6. Dub Rock: BurningSpear "Swell Headed"
7. Rastaman Version: Freddie McGregor "Rastaman Camp"
8. Jah Jah Version: The Gladiators "Jah Jah Go Before Us"
9. Creator Version: Dawn Penn "You Don't Love Me (No No No)"
10. Running Version: Delroy Wilson "Run Run"
11. Hi Fashion Dub: Soul Vendors "One Step Beyond"
12. Pretty Version: The Heptones "Pretty Looks Isn't All"
13. Race Track Version: Brentford All Stars "Race Track (Ride Me Donkey)"
14. Spawning: Jah Jesco & The Checkers "Spawning"
15. In Cold Blood Version: Jackie Mittoo "In Cold Blood"
16. Chase Them Version: Horace Andy "Mr. Bassie"
17. Feel the Dub: Ken Boothe "Feel Good" (aka Roy Shirley & Lynn Taitt "Hold Them")

Note
Incl. booklet

Scotland

A brilliant compilation focusing on the more fun and weird - an essential label debut from small Scottish collective, Triassic Tusk!

A compilation of incredible and incredibly rare tracks selected by The Moon Hop’s resident DJ Stephen Marshall. Expect oddities covering protest pop, disco, funk and soul, definitely worth adding to the collection.

Stunning compilation (every track is a winner!) of obscure and oddball tracks that range from rare African disco to the freakiest of jazz workouts and psychedelic kosmiche! Features one of the most sought-after afro-disco cuts, the jaw-dropping minimal electronics of Steve Monite's 'Only You (Disco Jam)'!

There’s something about Fife. Over the past decade or so, this quiet corner of Scotland’s east coast has given us the Beta Band, James Yorkston, King Creosote and the Fence Collective, KT Tunstall and now Triassic Tusk, a label run by a whisky expert whose nose for a vintage 45 has seen him diversify into music.

This, their debut outing, is just about the most exciting portent of things to come imaginable. Don’t expect to have heard any of these tracks, which cover genres as diverse as Bosnian folk (Safet Isovic’s Mujo Kuje Po Mjescu), Brazilian tropicalia (Hey Mina (Foul) by The Jones), Scottish post-punk (APB’s Shoot You Down) and experimental Cuban disco (Juan Pablo Torres’ Nocturno Op 1).

We’ll be honest, some of these, such as 80s anti-nuclear skank from Nashville (Afrikan Dreamland with Last Chance to Dance) are genres that have rarely troubled the RC pages. And yet they have one thing in common – they are all phenomenal! These are records plucked from the four corners of the world by people who are clearly obsessed with unearthing great records. Be quick, mind, there are just 500 of these beauties! -recordcollector

Anyone who ever chanced upon Moon Hop, the occasional club co-run by members of Edinburgh-sired band FOUND, and which ran at Henry's Cellar Bar in Edinburgh throughout 2014 and 2015 will have stumbled into a late-night multi-cultural wonderland of musical riches. With the evening introduced by low-key live shows from the likes of The Sexual Objects, Withered Hand and ex Arab Strappers Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton playing separately, FOUND themselves could be seen in various solo guises and together. As wonderful as such uniquely styled outings were, Moon Hop's heart was pulsed by the records spun before, inbetween and after the live shows.

This came in the form of some of the wildest array of records you'd never heard, a euphoric melting pot of retro-futuristic psych soul funk disco eclectica spread out across the decades and culled from all four corners of the world. Here was a compilation album in waiting, something that could exist on a par with other crate-digging ethnographic obsessives who release similar meticulously sourced musical joys. Labels such as Soul Jazz, the African and Latin-based Soundway and Edinburgh-based soul specialists Athens of the North spring to mind.

For those who miss hearing such a euphoric back to back array of obscure treasures, the fifteen cuts compiled across the four sides of this debut compilation by the freshly constituted Triassic Tusk label is about as close as you're likely to get to recapturing the Moon Hop experience. This is mainly because those behind Triassic Tusk - based with glorious impracticality in both Crail and Achaphubuil - are Stephen Marshall and FOUND's Ziggy Campbell, who were also the prime movers behind Moon Hop.

With the clue to the riches on offer coming in the title, Screamers, Bangers & Cosmic Synths spreads out its store roughly between 1966 and 1984 over two slices of 12” vinyl, with the first disc pressed in delicious lime green and the second on electric blue/turquoise. As is the way of such club-based compilations, there’s a loose-knit, ahem, 'journey' that moves across the record's four sides with an increased focus on the dancefloor as it goes. As a bonus, for the benefit of budding grandmasters and mistresses on the wheels of steel, the sleevenotes give friendly hints of what each track might work best alongside to keep swinging cellar bars jumping till the early hours.

Side one begins with a twitter of sci-fi synths, which, along with rubber bass, funky drums and little horn fanfares transforms the Bosnian folk of Safet Isovic's Mujo Kuje Konja Po Mjesecu into a groovetastic floor-filler. From late 1960s Bangkok, Monrat Kwanphothai's Ya Ma Kid Sa Ngne Sa Ngae opens with a wayward flute that eases into a vocal that sounds at moments like its plaintive stuttering repetitions have been dubbed over the song's slow-mo rhythm section. From Brazil, The Jones make Hey Mina (foul) sound like the Monkees' (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone, and Keije Nagaan by Het finds a Dutch fuzz-beat combo co-opting rhythm and blues for the mod set with extra added spoken-word interludes.

The tempo increases on the second side, which opens with some wild west female yodelling on Born to Wander, a panoramic gallop out of town by Jack Wood with The I Can't Say. Drum Talk by the Al Rose Trio is a pounding car chase instrumental that zigzags its jazz-fuelled way into the night, possibly passing Jack Wood along the way. Be My Side by Francis Guillon starts off in a similar getaway mood that belies the song's title before Guillon sings over the frantic rhythms like a classic chicken-in-a-basket showman.

Saving the best to last, on Mon Histoire, an unhinged John Malick declaims with gusto over an African-psych melody that sounds a dead ringer for the Rolling Stones' 1968 anthem, Sympathy For the Devil. Malick then spends the instrumental break laughing like a drain while the band get wiggy in a way that Keith Richards might similarly have copped his moves from. One scream later, Malick is back into the verse, enjoying every second of an ultra-rare masterpiece barely heard beyond Malick's living room, let alone the Ivory Coast where it was sired.

Things jump a couple of decades at the start of side three, when long lost Aberdeen punk-funk band APB crank things up a notch on the dance floor with Shoot You Down. Originally released on their home city's Oily Records as the band's second single, its over-excited dance-floor stew is led by a busy bass sound that slaps away with abandon before giving way to a brief and impressive flourish of Scots-accented rap(ture).

Don't be fooled by the classically styled title of Nocturne Op. 1 that follows it. Juan Pablo Torres' Cuban delight zaps its way onto the floor with a heavily percussive groove and wordless female backing vocals to party hard alongside. Moving on up into the 1980s, Last Chance to Dance is a still timely anti-nuclear skank by Afrikan Dreamland. Darkly polemical in intent and driven by a gulping bass sound, it also has one of the most impressive pauses in pop. Aleksandr Zatsepin's Tanets Shamana lightens the mood with a big epic kitchen-sink production that throws in what sounds like mad scratching but given that it dates from 1974 is probably some kind of wobble board. There is even madder piano and a welter of horns, voices and effects to force the listener to grab out every which way before it vanishes with a collective sigh.

The final side finally gives way to some full-on disco dancers, with the glossy synth-led squelch and pure 1980s soul of the Chocolate Buttermilk Band's Can't Let Go conjuring up images of neon-lit nitespots designed to bust some moves inside. Clifton Dyson's She's A Playgirl continues the mood, combining a crashingly relentless electronic rhythm and little guitar and piano flicks and flourishes with a high-pitched vocal that has its partner's flirtatious card marked from the start.

Finally, to end the evening, Steve Monite's Only You (disco jam) is a jaunty late night romance described on the sleevenotes as 'THE Moon Hop Classic', 'Utterly indispensable' and 'The loveliest song ever'. This mix of the vocal-based original soundtracks a breathy courtship that dips in and out of view before skipping off into the night.

While it might have been tempting to bung all the cuts collected here and a whole lot more on a budget price CD compilation that could have been twice the length, releasing them in this way gives them a weight and respect they deserve. The first – and possibly last – pressing has already been snapped up and has doubled in price on Discogs. Rumour has it, however, a second volume might be on the way. In the meantime, check out the Moon Hop mixes on the Triassic Tusk site to get you in the mood, and maybe make a Moon Hop party of your own.

1. Safet Isovic - Mujo Kuje Konja Po Mjesec 3:21
2. Manrat Kwanphothai - Ya Ma Kid Sa Ngne Sa Nga 2:29
3. The Jones - Hey Mina (Foul) 2:25
4. HET - Kejje Nagaan 3:33
5. Jack Wood - Born To Wander 2:23
6. Al Rose Trio - Drum Talk 2:15
7. Francis Guillon - By My Side 2:16
8. John Malick - Mon Histoire 2:44
9. APB - Shoot You Down 3:37
10. Juan Pablo Torres Y Algo Nuevo - Nocturno Op 1 3:25
11. Afrikan Dreamland - Last Chance To Dance 2:50
12. Aleksandr Zatsepin - Tanets Shamana 2:45
13. Chocolate Buttermilk Band - Can't Let Go 3:30
14. Clifton Dyson - She's A Playgirl 3:51
15. Steve Monite - Only You (Disco Jam) 6:29

Notes
Compilation of records played in the early years of the Moon Hop club in Scotland, selected by Stephen Marshall.

USA

Numero Group turns up an outlier in the new-age icon’s catalog: an album of vocal music that, while a lesser work, offers a glimpse of a seldom-seen side of Laraaji.

Effectively gospel soul in the key of Om, written and performed on Casio keyboards, depending on your disposition it’s either worthy of comparison with Arthur Russell, or an extended Tim and Eric sketch. Take your pick…

Vision Songs Vol. 1 is the Laraaji album like no other, located at the intersection of new age and gospel, his outlier and magnum opus, the feel-good DIY tape of the century. Casio synth jams recorded at spiritual retreat guest rooms and a tiny bedroom on the Upper West Side in 1984, lysergically-spectacular anthems for a continually arriving new moment. “Channeled from the sky,” humbly offered on vinyl for the first time, this is where this is going on, this is where this is taking place, this is how this is going on. Is this very clear? (NG)

Review
Since the release of Laraaji's fine career retrospective, Celestial Music 1978-2011, in 2013, there's been renewed interest in the work of the autoharp-playing ambient spirtualist. It's perhaps surprising, then, that it has taken this long for someone to reissue his Vision Songs Volume 1, the former Brian Eno collaborator's first self-released cassette album. In many ways, it's atypical of his work, featuring as it does "devotional and inspirational songs", rather than new age instrumentals. It was recorded in 1984 and sees the one-time actor combining lo-fi Casio synthesizer chords and melodies with his own soulful, life-affirming lyrics and copious amounts of tape delay. It remains a fine work, with the constant warmth of original tape his offering a reminder of the set's decidedly lo-fi roots.

Laraaji is a master of countless instruments, and his music has explored numerous styles and moods, but he's probably best known for his hypnotic instrumental works utilizing hammered dulcimer and zither, particularly his Eno-produced opus Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980). However, he possesses a rich, commanding voice, and on 1984's Vision Songs, Vol. 1, he recorded an album's worth of avant-garde devotional synth pop songs that sound like nothing else on Earth. The album's songs were all captured from spontaneous recording sessions, and they generally fade in and out, focusing on peak moments of the artist's marathon sessions. He plays peppy melodies on his zither or cool, relaxing tones from a Casio MT-70 keyboard, accompanied by blippy beats provided by a cheap drum machine, which is generally set to the same drum pattern. The lyrics are the focus for this album, and they're usually either mystical mantras ("Hare Jaya Jaya Rama") or words of awareness and enlightenment. None of the pieces are properly composed, structured songs, but he sings them with such spirit and clarity that they resonate more strongly than much of the music on the radio. Many of the songs are catchy enough to immediately resemble songs you've been listening to for years. "Om Namah Shivaya" is particularly moving, with uplifting lyrics ("Be still and know your underlying source of freedom/Your underlying sense of okay/Your underlying source of power/Divine"), sung with such a natural confidence and absence of worry. It's way too short, at less than two minutes, but fortunately he also released an album containing a 40-minute recording of the mantra-like piece. The longest track on Vision Songs, the eight-minute "All of a Sudden," is another easy highlight, similarly showcasing Laraaji's warm voice singing about the birth of a new era of awareness. As divine and spiritual as this album is, the musician (who is also a laughter meditation guru) keeps a sense of playfulness and humor on tracks like "Cosmic Joe" and "Is This Clear? III," where he gradually speeds up the song's pitch. Accessible and friendly yet highly profound, Vision Songs is a truly uncommon work, and easily one of Laraaji's best. -AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson

1. Hare Jaya Jaya Rama I 5:41
2. Is This Clear? I 2:22
3. Interlude I 1:48
4. Om Namah Shivaya 1:44
5. Today Is This Magic Quality 2:46
6. Great Bells in the Morning 2:06
7. Interlude II 1:26
8. Hare Jaya Jaya Rama II 5:18
9. All of a Sudden 8:32
10. Om Tryumbacom 0:57
11. I Can Only Bliss Out (F'Days) 5:37
12. We Shall Be Lifted 3:27
13. Allah 1:11
14. Cosmic Joe 4:27
15. Laws of Manifestation 4:33
16. Who's in Love? 5:20
17. Is This Clear? II 3:45
18. Is This Clear? III 2:33

Brazil

This is THE heavweight afro-sambas album by Baden Powell and Vinicius De Moraes (plus Quarteto Em Cy on vocals). Killer tracks include the original "Canto De Ossanha", "Tempo De Amor" and "Canto De Iemanja". Essential!

'Vinicius de Moraes was the principal lyricist of Bossa Nova, ('Girl from Ipanema', 'Chega de Saudade' and 'Insensatez' are amongst the famous international hit songs he wrote with Tom Jobim), and Os Afro-Sambas is his response to the commercialization of the movement in the mid '60s. Co-written with the brilliant Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell and eventually released in 1966, these eight songs combine Powell's melodic gifts with Bahian Folk traditions and Gregorian chant. With the joyous vocalizations of Quarteto Em Cy, the atmosphere is at once haunting and spontaneous. The music hasn't even begun to date. Recorded at a time when musicians around the world were looking to break down barriers - between Classical and Pop, East and West - but the Afro-Sambas appear to recognize no such barriers in the first place.'

Some may classify what I’m going to highlight today as psychedelic or weird, I refuse to do so. Sometimes, we forget that some of the most outre music, the one that challenges our orthodoxy, has always existed not in the outre monde but in the clear, visible world and has always been the actual current feeding the norm. Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes’ “Canto de Iemenja” from the “Os Afro-Sambas” album released in 1966, is a revelatory work for this reason. This album is the perfect link from Brazil’s bossanova age to its upcoming tropicalia phase.

Both artists were born in Rio De Janeiro. Vinicius, the much elder of the two, already had a longer trajectory at that time, being a diplomat, renowned playwright, and poet for early sambistas and bossanova artists like Joao (Vinicius wrote “Girl from Ipanema” and “Chega de Saudade” for ex.). Baden was a classically trained guitarist, who could play modern classical compositions with equal fervor and knowledge as most regional Brazilian musical styles, but had only laid down an album of samba songs which weren’t forward thinking enough for him.. Both were drawn into each other not just by region but by mutual admiration but both were at a stand still. Baden wanted, much like Vinicius, to experiment with bossanova and looking outwardly at the jazz, swing, and rock music being played wasn’t enough. Where could they turn?

Well for Vinicius, he started to look inwardly at the African influenced music of Bahia and the Northeast (Nordeste) of Brazil, for vocal and lyrical inspiration. Baden, already a master at a lot of these forms went inside, the spiritual realm was his inspiration. He started to study Gregorian chants and with Vinicius a lot of the traditions and practices of those Afro-Brazilian people. The fruit of all that labor was this album.

This is a mystical album that at that time must have sounded so out of step with popular music then. Baden’s guitar playing and arranging was no longer drawing exclusively from bossanova, it was far more experimental and elemental, drawing from shunned sources, while the verses sung from Vinicius and being replied back by Quarteto em Cy chants were far more rebellious and spiritual. It’s a hard sound to describe for a reason since it seems to exist outside of time, even I have a hard time describing it. This doesn’t make the music deeply affecting though. This elemental music served as the impetus for artists like Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben, Caetano, or Os Mutantes to fully realize the next step in Brazil’s musical history, Tropicalismo. Brazil now held unique jewels that other artists could display. -Diego Olivas

1. Canto De Ossanha 3:16
2. Canto De Xango 6:32
3. Bocoche 2:36
4. Canto De Iemanja 4:50
5. Tempo De Amor 4:31
6. Canto Do Caboclo Pedra Preta 3:41
7. Tristeza E Solidao 4:36
8. Lamento De Exu 2:17

Note
Incl. Mono and Stereo Version

Jamaica

Reissue of a soulful reggae burner from Jamaica, 1978. Produced and vocals by Lloyd Parks - a member of Skin, Flesh & Bones, who sang on some early rocksteady nuggets with The Termites and The Invincibles. The CD comes with 6 bonus tracksMeet the People has become a reggae classic, despite its small-scale release, and comes highly recommended to anybody looking to complete their collection of Jamaican goodness. 

Pressure Sounds continue the link with the great bassist and singer Lloyd Parks to reissue Parks' 1978 album Meet The People, the "People" being, of course, the We The People band, led by Parks, who played on much of the recordings that came out of Joe Gibbs studio, as The Professionals, and backed many artists on stage in Jamaica and around the world, including U Roy, Jacob Miller and Dennis Brown. This album was recorded at Gibbs studio with engineers Errol T and Ruddy Thomas. The CD release also collects three titles originally issued as singles; Grand Father Bogle, School Days and the "steppers" version of his classic Slaving along with their version sides.

Kingston, Jamaica, spring 1978, and Lloyd Parks is taking his We The People band in to Joe Gibbs’ Studio to record the ‘Meet The People’ album. Lloyd has already achieved big local hits both as a solo singer and with the Termites, and had three solo albums released by Trojan in the UK. Now, as a session musician, he is at the heart of Joe Gibbs’ quest for international success. That February his bass playing helped to propel Althea and Donna’s ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ to number one in the British charts. 

Lloyd Parks: “Joe Gibbs’ Studio was like the hang out spot, like the chill spot for every artist. Every day you’d find Big Youth, Prince Far I, Culture and the Mighty Diamonds and all the musicians come around. Before each recording we would play cards and have fun, like find some joke to make off each other, and then we walk into the studio with that same spirit. So that just spin off into magic. Like sometimes when you’re recording the engineer call out ‘ready, ready!’ and then somebody just draw a card, like we call it a card when we jive each other, and then we just have to stop the tune and start again because everybody just laugh. We would be there maybe Monday and Tuesday for a full recording session, but then also every other day just to hang out, cos it was like our recreation ground. And we become the resident band for Joe Gibbs and he called us the Professionals. 

“Joe Gibbs’ Studio was near a place called Jungle, so sometimes bad guys come in the yard, but they come just to listen to music, not for violence. I remember there was one time when Joe Gibbs owed some money to Prince Far I or Culture, so some bad guys come in the yard to make trouble. It was a problem with royalties, but with so many bad guys there they manage to resolve it – heh heh. But really the badmen just love the music and love the musicians. 

“I also keep working at Channel One studio throughout this time. And boy there was a rivalry between those studios. We called it a musical clash, Joe Gibbs vs Channel One! And everybody trying to say my studio is better than yours. But it was a peaceful clash: it never create problem. What it really create was just better production from both studios.” 

By 1978, Joe Gibbs was really starting to taste international success, with the ‘African Dub’ series and albums by Culture and Prince Far I having found a wide audience overseas, and Dennis Brown just about to break through. 

“Joe Gibbs himself didn’t really contribute nothing to the sessions. He was busy at his record shop downturn most of the day, and would just swing by at night to check the works. So really he do nothing! But at the end of the day the record sleeve says ‘produced by Joe Gibbs’. In fact the engineer Errol Thompson was really the man, and he and the musicians produce the session.” 

After an apprenticeship at Studio One, Errol Thompson had shaped the sound of early reggae at Randy’s Studio, leading early forays into dub, before moving to Joe Gibbs’ new 16-track studio in 1975. The pair were soon nicknamed ‘The Mighty Two’. 

“Errol Thompson was one of Jamaica’s greatest engineers, and he was the real producer back then. I rate him like Lee Perry as a producer, a similarly talented person, a champion in those days. All those ‘African Dub’ albums, it was really Errol Thompson behind that, and he bring a lot of inspiration to those versions. Like even on the original of ‘Ordinary Man’, that was Errol Thompson at Randy’s studio putting all those ‘woowoo’ effects on the version. But let me tell you, that studio was full of a load of old equipment. Before he could start each session, Errol Thompson was always patching things up before we could get going! 

“It was natural then that I recorded the ‘Meet The People’ album at Joe Gibbs Studio. But when I record it, I still had to book Joe Gibbs studio and pay for my time. Nothing for free! At one time I was in a bad situation with money with my house. So while I was in there making hit songs for Joe Gibbs, I ask him if he could lend me some money, and he said ‘go in to the studio there and make me some songs’, and as soon as I went in he flew straight out of the country! That was the kind of guy he was, maybe not a bad guy, but not a kind guy. 

“So I spent my money to make this album. We The People Band was formed in 1975 and I just decided it was time to make this album a couple of years after. At that time We The People was really active, and you can find plenty of film on the internet with Dennis Brown all through that time, like ‘Live In Montreux’, and ‘Splashing The Palace’. Dennis Brown said that I was like his credit card – he used to say ‘I never leave home without my credit card!’ There is also that film called ‘Heartland Reggae’ with U Roy and Jacob Miller, where you can watch the same set of guys as on this album. 

“On drums there was Devon Richardson, one of the greatest drummers that ever come out of Jamaica – in fact Sly Dunbar used to admire him a lot, and Sly would say ‘he is the only guy can play back what I am playing’. Devon and Sly were the two drummers who really played all the sessions at Joe Gibbs studio. Then you have Winston Bowen on guitar, that is ‘Bo Peep’. A lot of these guys came through my band and went on to long careers. Like Dean Fraser is on this album, but we called him ‘Youth’ on this LP. So being that I was like the senior recording musician at Joe Gibbs, I introduced these horns sections with these young guys – Dean Fraser and Nambo Robinson. Chico Chin was already in the band and Lloyd Kerr played trombone. Then there was Franklyn Waul, alias ‘Bubbler’, who also start with me – I had to go to his school to get him, and eventually he became popular and create a scene. Ruddy Thomas was the first lead singer for We The People, and then he learnt to work as an engineer at Joe Gibbs, and also as a percussion player. And Mighty Diamonds sing backup vocals. 

“It was a really great album, but I never had proper distribution for it. It was just released in Jamaica but I used to sell it for export, so it still made it out to different countries. At the time I had given my first three albums to Trojan, and maybe they could have done a bit more, so I figured that I wouldn’t go that same route for this ‘Meet The People’ album. 

“‘Reality’ and ‘Life Ain’t Easy’ were songs I write from just observing things in the ghetto, where people would struggle to achieve the progress they look for in life, and I just get an inspiration, like ‘life ain’t easy down in the ghetto’. I recorded ‘Ordinary Man’ first for the Impact label, which was Randy’s, and I decided to do it over for this. ‘Rock Dis Yah Bassline’ was just me imagining myself giving a live show, like I’m playing the bass live and the audience is responding, so it’s like ‘music is in my bones, and I can’t give it up’” 

As the We The People band became increasingly in demand as a live act, Lloyd’s collaborations with Dennis Brown for Joe Gibbs created a huge hit with their recut of ‘Money In My Pocket’, and a brace of albums for A&M. Yet just as the studio’s global reach seemed assured, Joe Gibbs found himself caught up in a dispute over songwriting royalties for JC Lodge’s ‘Someone Loves You Honey’. 

“Yes, I played on that tune, and I know the story that Charlie Pride sued him for royalties and that shut everything down, but as far as I’m concerned Joe Gibbs never go bankrupt. He ended up closing the studio for a while, and when he try to open again it never come back the same. But I don’t think Joe Gibbs was really bankrupt, maybe he was playing that situation. And after all this, Errol Thompson end up working in Joe Gibbs’ grocery shop – can you believe that, the great engineer that he was? I don’t know what arrangement he had with Joe Gibbs, maybe it saw him comfortable, but Errol was like one of us, a true musician.” 

The ‘Meet The People’ album may have had limited distribution, but its rarity has only added to its strong reputation with aficionados over the years. Today its songs of reality still resonate, and vibrancy of the musicians still jumps out of the speakers. 

“I don’t think anything can match the music that came out of that environment in the 70s and early 80s. The mood and groove of the music is totally different to what is happening now, because it has that spirit inside it that came from the musicians hanging out together. We were really full of fun in those days, and love those recording sessions, and a lot of hit songs really come straight out of that spirit.” 

1. Reality 4:04
2. Life Ain’t Easy 3:24
3. You Hurt My Pride 4:24
4. Ordinary Man 2:54
5. Trench Town Girl 4:32
6. Ah Rock Dis Yah Bass Line 3:00
7. I Want To Go Home 3:26
8. I Love You Girlie 3:46
9. Grand Father Bogle 2:56
10. Grand Father Bogle (Version) 2:54
11. Slaving (Steppers Cut) 3:36
12. Slaving (Version) 3:38
13. School Days 2:52
14. School Days (Version) 2:50

Jamaica

This album collects some of the finest dubs of tracks like Marcia Griffiths "Feel Like Jumping", The Gladiators "Watch Out", Otis Gayle's "I'll Be Around" and many more alongside super-rare dub outings and classic versions. From the late 60s Sir Clement Coxsone Dodd began including an instrumental version on the flip-side of Studio One 45s, enabling soundsystem deejays to toast over original rhythms. Incorporating dub, echo, reverb and heavy on the bass and drums, these versions have come to be as collectible as many of the original tunes. At the start of the 1970s Coxsone Dodd (and sound engineer Sylvan Morris) also released a series of classic dub albums, featuring innovative dub and mixing techniques. These albums were originally released with very-limited special silk-screen covers, again making them treasured collectors' items. "Studio One Dub 2" brings together the best tracks from both these original albums plus many rare and classic versions from Studio One's original 45's.

Dub music was the creation of a generation of brilliant recording studio engineers in Jamaica. But although Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One is hailed as the greatest of the Jamaican recording labels, and although many talented engineers worked the board at Dodd's Brentford Road studio over the years (including Sylvan Morris, Syd Bucknor, Overton "Scientist" Brown and Dodd himself), Studio One was never typically known as a centre for dub. This is because for many fans the studio's commercial and stylistic heyday was in the 1960s, prior to the rise of dub as a distinct sub-genre of Jamaican music in the 1970s. By the 1970s, however, dub music was the rage in Jamaica's sound systems. Always the pioneer — and since Sylvan Morris had left the Studio One operation around 1972 — Coxsone supervised the dubs till leaving Jamaica at the end of the decade. This meant that for the most part, for example, the twelve Studio One dub albums released during the 1970s were mixed by Dodd himself, using the moniker "Dub Specialist." Throughout the decade, the mixes became more sophisticated and atmospheric. Along with the first volume of Studio One Dub, the cuts here demonstrate that Studio One's contribution to the innovative musical form of dub was substantial, and go straight to the head of listeners who feel that the only centres for dub were studios such as King Tubby's, Lee Perry's Black Ark, Channel One, or Joe Gibbs's. The tracks on this compilation are taken from this period in the 1970s when dub was the cutting-edge of Jamaican music studio production. Most of them are the dub-version flip-sides of rare Jamaican 45s, and none have appeared on CD before. -Michael E. Veal, author of Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae.

1. Sound Dimension - I'll Be Around Version 3:06
2. Soundstorm - Dub Rock 3:20
3. Albert and The Gladiators - Watch Out Version 2:46
4. Brentford Reggae Band - Moses Version 3:14
5. Brentford Disco Set - Peace Version 3:17
6. Brentford Disco Set - Natty Ting a Ling Pt. 2 3:34
7. Marcia Griffiths - Feel Like Jumping Pt. 2 3:44
8. Drum Bago and The Rebel Group - Reggae Version 3:02
9. St. Ct. and The Gladiators Band - Soul Locks 3:18
10. Freddie and Sound Dimension - How Could You Version 3:25
11. Sound Dimension Band - Run Run Version 3:32
12. Holt and Sound Dimension - Any Where Version 1:38
13. Alton and Soul Vendors - Live and Dub 2:57
14. Freddie McKay - Drunken Sailor Version 2:28
15. Ital Sound - Welding 3:10
16. Dub Specialist - Dar Es Salaam 4:16
17. Dub Specialist - Always Dubbing 2:36
18. Dub Specialist - Mojo Papa 2:44

Note
Incl. booklet

Nigeria

Awon Ojise Olorun tells the story of the dawn of recorded music amongst the Yorubas of Nigeria as seen through the collection of the British Library. Surveying the sakara music of Yoruba Muslims, the guitarists of Lagos, and the origins of apala percussion groups, the collection presents works by some of the most influential musicians in the period alongside tracks by forgotten pioneers.

Nineteen tracks from the early days of the Nigerian recording industry are assembled in this compilation, all of them falling into one of three styles: sakara, juju, and apala. Sakara is the starkest of these, with droning, chanting vocals, though percussion is used; juju is more rhythmic and danceable, and of course was a precursor of the more polished Afro-pop sounds of the late 20th century; and apala, which didn't emerge until the early '50s, placed more emphasis on rollicking drumming. While, in common with folk music from around the world, the songs commented on various facets of life, they were sometimes quite political or socially conscious in nature, sometimes specifically protesting British occupation. Much of this CD is folkloric in nature, and more a documentation of indigenous styles than a presentation of specific songs with commercial appeal. Nonetheless, some of the material will hold some interest for non-folklorists, particularly some of the juju cuts, which occasionally have exuberant ensemble vocals and beats that distinctly anticipate the danceable modern juju band sound. Akanbi Wright's "Everybody Likes Saturday Night" and "The 5 Nigerian RAF" in particular, with their train-rolling beats, guitar, and merry lyrics, wouldn't need much more than a fuller arrangement and clearer recording quality to sound like modern juju, though they were recorded in the early '40s. Full English translations are provided in the booklet, which also includes some detailed notes on the songs and the performers, and the sound transfers of these aged recordings are quite listenable. -AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
If you only buy one album of music from Yorubaland....

.....this is it! These are vintage recordings (1931-1952) from Yorubaland, which is roughly present day Nigeria. These recordings were made while the Yoruba were under British colonial rule, and have thus been stored and now released by the British Library.

The majority of this cd is comprised of either Sakara or Juju, with a few Apala tracks as well. Apala is a highly percussive music, very much centered around the sound of a drum ensemble. Sakara is also quite percussive, and features droning vocals and one-stringed fiddles. Sakara (as evidenced in the translated lyrics accompanying this disc) is mostly either highly spiritual or political music, and there is a seriousness in the way the Sakara songs on this disc are performed. Last but not least are the Juju songs, my personal favourites and the tunes that drew me to this cd in the first place. These are very syncopated and upbeat sounding guitar songs with percussion and vocal accompaniment. The vocal harmonies on these songs are particularly colourful and catchy, and their happy sounding tone belies the origins of the Juju song form as a funeral incantation or march. This contrast strikes me as somewhat akin to the New Orleans funeral marching bands, and makes for a heady tension in the music itself.

If you are at all interested in vintage African recordings, you will not be disappointed with the quality and beauty of the music contained in this collection. -Josh Z. Bonder

1. Abibus Oluwa - Orin Faji 3:10
2. Ayinde Bakare - Ajaratu 3:07
3. Abibus Oluwa - Orin Herbert Macaulay 3:08
4. Akinbi Wright - Everybody Likes Saturday Night 2:42
5. Lasisi Layemi - Omi Layemi 2:47
6. Akinbi Wright - The 5 Nigerian RAF 2:52
7. Aiyeke and his Orchestra - Arise L'Arika 2:48
8. Alhanji Muniru Singers - Olorun Nimbe ati Adedoyin 2:42
9. Irewolde Denge - Okoya ati Ogunniya 2:48
10. Isamato Alade - Adesan ya Ayinla 2:45
11. Amusa Elo - Eiye je Eiye mu 2:52
12. Rafiu Bankole - Oduduwa 2:31
13. Lasisi Onipole - Welewele Ewe Agbon 2:40
14. Julius Araba - Osupa ko dadi Osan 3:06
15. Raimi Dogo - Lasisi Adigun 2:36
16. Yesufu Olatunji - Orin Boys 2:57
17. Aminu Olaribigbe - Bisimilaya Raba Na 2:43
18. Theophilus Iwalokun - Iyawo A Ra Mi 2:53
19. Yesufu Olatunji - Nola Kolade 2:50

Brazil

There are quite a few recent reissues of lost "psychedelic classics" coming out of Brazil and the rest of South America these days... This is one of the stronger releases you'll come across, the debut album by two of Brazil's biggest "regional music" stars of the 1970s and '80s. Hailing from Pernambuco, Azevedo and Valenca worked for a few years together as a duo, performing in the popular song contests that many artists used to launch their careers back then. This disc shows them very much in debt to the avant-rock of the tropicalia crowd, even working with composer-arranger Rogerio Duprat, who adds the same sheen of highbrow avant artsiness (musique concrete, atonality, etc.) that he brought to seminal albums by Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil. There's also a rich strain of melodic acoustic-folk, with a distinctive regional flair. Both artists went on to record solo "debuts" that were less effective than this disc, but here there's a real magic, a skillful, challenging mix of both wild and understated... Nice balancing act, great record. -DJ Joe Sixpack

1. Me Dá Un Beijo 2:28
2. Virgem Virgínia 3:27
3. Mister Mistério 2:47
4. Novena 2:18
5. Cordão Do Rio Preto 2:53
6. Planetário 2:56
7. Seis Horas 2:29
8. Erosão 2:29
9. 78 Rotações 1:46
10. Talismã 3:43
11. Ciranda De Mãe Nina 2:20
12. Horrível 4:16

Spain

Munster presents volume one of their new series "Algo salvaje", featuring untamed 1960s beat and garage nuggets from Spain. "Algo salvaje" is the first legal anthology devoted to a rich period when hundreds of bands appeared all over Spain and, after paying attention to what their US and British contemporaries were doing, found their own way to vent their teenage rebellion through loud guitars. With amazing results! Many of the 28 tracks are reissued for the first time, including very hard-to-find records. Both formats include extensive notes by Vicente Fabuel featuring all the original record sleeves and artist photos.

Internationally labelled as nuggets (after the original compilation of the same name concocted by Jac Holzman and Lenny Kaye in 1972 for the Elektra label), the more common garage rock label has been used to place and describe one of the most fertile chapters of rock & roll history during its most creative years. An underground story which has luckily become known, with participants from all around the globe which included anonymous musicians, independent record labels with impossible names and ridiculously limited pressings, often not more than a few hundred copies. Much more important and influential than its level of exposure would suggest, this nuggets-type of music was insolent, proud and self-taught.

The trigger of the phenomenon was, without a doubt, the concluding British Invasion to the US started in 1964: that collective youthful glare provoked by an unprecedented music event in which a number of English bands took up American music and regenerated it in their own personal way. All of them managed to open a big crack in the comfortable status of early 60s rock through which garage rock, in an incredible game of fascination and rage, started to pour freely. This new music, drawing from beat, rhythm & blues and the new psychedelic nuances that already flew over the rock scene, emerged gloriously as a coarse creature. Question Mark?, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Remains, The Chocolate Watchband, Electric Prunes, The Seeds, The Standells, Kenny & The Casuals, The Sonics, Music Machine… and hundreds more bands. They led the American answer to the British bands and they all reached truly fantastic heights, although any list of great names will be insufficient and unfair.

Dazzled by that blinding light, thousands of bands appeared all over the world, including Spain, of course. Few of the expected obstacles derived from the political and social situation in Spain under Franco seemed to matter to these bands. At their own pace and in their own way, and almost at the same time that it was happening at the other side of the Atlantic, the Spanish nuggets got into action without more consideration and moved from the village music band to the ye-yé group. The cleverest teenagers noticed that there was something new in the air, and realized that such intoxicating music enabled them to display attitudes and words which didn't have any other way out in that anomalous society.

The breeding ground was usually small labels and sometimes, not often, the bigger imprints would dare take a chance. In both cases, the nuggets-type tracks were always on the B side of singles and EPs, a sort of side door of a theatre whose main entrance was locked up. We must mention the unusual case of Los Brincos and their Beatlesque and thunderous debut 'Dance The Pulga', a visionary piece which started the genre in 1964 with all the honours, and whose second 7", 'Flamenco', introduced one of the specific contributions of Spanish garage: noisy approximations or versions of copla and flamenco songs. It was an obligatory and respectable settling of scores with genres of music that were tied to the past and to a model of authoritarian family whose foundations were starting to crack. And although the dotted map of the most prolific areas points towards the tourist sites of the Mediterranean coast, it was actually a global phenomenon which took place in any part of Spain. Coming, most of them, from a middle class background which was starting to consolidate, Spanish teenagers from the 60s employed the same musical models as their foreign colleagues, but their contribution was not only exemplary in many cases, but also specifically genuine. These Spanish Nuggets, an eternal unfinished business of our musical heritage waiting to be reissued, are finally celebrated here on this first volume of "Algo salvaje".

1. The Tomcats - A Tu Vera 2:44
2. Los Brincos - Dance "The Pulga" 1:55
3. Tony Ronald Y Sus Kroner's - True Fine Mama 2:22
4. Los 4 Jets - Shake Baby Shake 2:18
5. Los Buitres - Ya No Me Importas 3:05
6. Los Botines - Eres Un Vago 2:37
7. Els Trons - Ven A Mí 2:38
8. Los Beta - Sin Corazón 2:10
9. Los Impala - Yo Te Vi 2:42
10. Los Huracanes - Aún 2:05
11. Los 5 Del Este - Protestando 2:18
12. Miguel Ríos - Antimusical 3:36
13. The Four Winds And Dito - No Me Dejas Vivir En Paz 2:09
14. Los Daikiris - Zergaitik Ez Da Egia 2:32
15. Los Pepes - Por Favor 2:01
16. Els Mallorquins - No Sé Qué Siento 2:08
17. Lone Star - Mientes 2:13
18. Los Pekenikes - Vete Ya 2:16
19. Mike & The Runaways - Corazón Lleno De Mal 2:31
20. Los Nivram - Sombras 2:21
21. Los Junior's - Te Fuiste 3:21
22. Los Rockeros - No Lo Verás 2:14
23. Los Cheyenes - Y Olvídame 2:27
24. Los Polares - La Droga 2:01
25. The Canaries - You Be 2:20
26. Los Sirex - Acto De Fuerza 2:36
27. Micky Y Los Tonys - Jabón De Azufre 2:29
28. Prou Matic - It Is My World 2:48

Guinea

The famous Guinean band Bembeya Jazz captured live at the Palais du Peuple in Conakry in 1971. An historic recording demonstarting the musical mastership of the band at the time.

One of the best live albums

This is a great live recording, and the sound quality is surprisingly good for an early seventies African recording. Lead singer Aboubacar Camara sounds heavenly and might have been the greatest of the Mande singers had he not died so early. It is also very obvious that lead guitarist Sekou Bembeya Diabate has to be right near the top of Africa's great unsung guitar heroes. I saw him in concert many years after this recording and he still has the showmanship that's only hinted at on this great recording. There's really no highlights here, it's all killer, no filler. -Tamuka

A once-in-a-lifetime document of Guinea's golden age

This is a wonderful document of a great band at the peak of their powers, exemplifying the beautiful music created by the 'authenticité' movement in Guinea during the late 1960s and 1970s. Bembeya Jazz were the premier 'national orchestra' of Guinea, funded and promoted by President Sékou Touré's regime in the name of cultural nationalism. They combined a dazzling array of influences from Cuban rumba to big-band swing to Manding oral tradition into a heady, exciting brew that's brilliantly captured on this album, their ten-year anniversary concert at the People's Palace in Conakry in 1971. The first song proper, the nine-minute epic Temtemba, is probably my favourite African track, with virtuoso solos from the guitarists and brass section building to a super-charged finale delivered by lead singer Demba Camara. Things calm down a bit after that but the music stays top-notch throughout, and the crowd is so loudly enthusiastic you almost feel like you're there. I wish I had been. -J. Gleeson

1. Introduction 3:32
2. Temtemba 8:48
3. Wouloukoro 3:56
4. Lefa 4:28
5. Camara Mousso 4:31
6. O.E.R.S. 4:18
7. Doni Doni 4:24
8. Bembeya 4:16
9. Festival National 3:58
10. Koule De Gbe 3:55
11. Ndianamo 5:11
12. Ile Nyarabi 4:32

Notes
Gala d'anniversaire en direct du Palais du Peuple (Avril 1971)
Recorded By – Moussa Konate

Cuba

On first release in the mid-'50s, the loose, live Gutierrez recordings launched a long-lasting craze for descarga -- jazz-type jam sessions. Just about everybody who was anybody took part one way or another, during a marathon studio session. Its success led to a similar venture by Cachao, Cuba's most influential bassist. (The Nino Rivera cuts are make-weights, though exceedingly fine ones.) -AllMusic Review by John Storm Roberts

1. Niño Rivera Y Sus Cubans All Stars - Montuno Con Swing 9:18
2. Niño Rivera Y Sus Cubans All Stars - Montuno Guajiro 9:26
3. Niño Rivera Y Sus Cubans All Stars - Chachachá Montuno 9:05
4. Niño Rivera Y Sus Cubans All Stars - Guaguancó-Comparsa 6:19
5. Julio Gutiérrez Y Su Orquesta - Descarga Caliente 16:43
6. Julio Gutiérrez Y Su Orquesta - Rhumba Theme 5:04
7. Julio Gutiérrez Y Su Orquesta - Oye Mi Ritmo Caliente 6:29
8. Julio Gutiérrez Y Su Orquesta - Batá Rhythm 5:53

Notes
Compilation includes

Niño Rivera - Cuban Jam Session Vol. 3

Julio Gutierrez - Cuban Jam Session Volume 2

Cuba

¡Ahí-namá!

This outstanding 2-CD set contains all of Israel "Cachao" López's legendary descargas in Havana (1957-1961) for the first time ever on one release! Prior to this edition, Cachao aficionados had to buy 5 long out of print CDs in order to reunite all of this material!

He started his professional life accompanying silent movies in Havana but, 80 years later, Cachao is still the undisputed boss of Latin bass. Featuring an extraordinary ensemble of Cuban legends, this collection of 39 jam sessions, recorded in 1957-61, has legitimate claim to be his most thrilling. Recorded informally after a hard night’s work, the sessions’ only rule was that the tunes had to be around the 3-min mark, and the variety and lack of ego this discipline demanded distinguishes these jams from those of self-indulgent rockers. Only the last half dozen tunes allow the players to really let their hair down, with the 16-minute Cachao te Pone a Bailar.

On first release in the mid-'50s, the loose, live Gutierrez recordings launched a long-lasting craze for descarga -- jazz-type jam sessions. Just about everybody who was anybody took part one way or another, during a marathon studio session. Its success led to a similar venture by Cachao, Cuba's most influential bassist. Alas the original LPs had better documentation, but musically these were milestones, shaking loose Cuban and New York Latin-heads alike without loss of roots. -AllMusic Review by John Storm Roberts

Depending on who you talk to, Cachao ‘invented’ the Descarga – the Cuban Jam. More accurately the Descarga was a natural extension of the ‘filin’ movement that had developed in Cuba of the 1940s. Julio Gutiérrez, Bebo Valdés, Peruchín and Niño Rivera were also involved in its development, but it is rightly suggested that Cachao took the Descarga to heights that it had never reached before. In 1957 Cachao made what is considered by many critics to be his most definitive recording of this music at EGREM studios: Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature distilled the essence of the Descarga into 12 short pieces that appeared on a Panart recording, into something of a vial of magic potion that when imbibed causes considerable inebriation, expressed in the form of dance.

Today it is impossible to imagine a world without these ‘miniature’ jams (together with The Master Sessions – Volume 1 & 2). The fact is Cachao was always at the top of his game whenever he played. His sense of his Afro-Cuban roots made his music glow like red-hot coal. He is rightly considered the greatest Cuban bassist, or at least the father of Cuban ‘bassism’, if you like – to Cuban music what Jimmy Blanton was to Jazz. His time was impeccable and he brought to the music he played a giant palette of tonal colours. Texturally his playing was as visceral as it was crisp. He also added a vivid imagery of the comparsa melded together with the elegance and immaculate rhythmic movements of the gliding steps on the waxen floor of the dancehall.

Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature contains some of Cuba’s most iconic mambos, boleros and danzón music turned upside down as Cachao revitalized them in the form of roistering jams. Many of the songs here were written by the famed Osvaldo Estivill and Cachao gives these his special treatment. Listen to ‘Descarga Cubana’ and you will hear what I mean. ‘Descarga Mambo’ and Descarga General’ written by Orestes ‘Macho’ López are effervescent re-enactments of wild Havana nights. ‘El Manisero’ written by Moisés Simons the Cuban musical icon is superb and played with classic energy and virtuosity. Two of the players who provide standout performances are the legendary Tata Güines on tumbadora drums and the equally iconic Guillermo Barreto on timbales. Together with the bongosero Rogelio ‘Yeyo’ Iglesias and Cachao, this rhythm section roars throughout the performance.

To say that this music was revolutionary would be under-stating the case. Nothing that Cachao, Tata Güines – who shines like a gleaming gem on ‘Popurrit de Congas’ – or Guillermo Barreto was ever normal. This spectacular music spread over 39 tracks provides a glimpse into Cachao’s world. The music draws you in, mesmerises you and challenges you to sit and listen without jumping to your feet and dancing wildly.

Disc 1
1. Descarga Cubana 3:05
2. Goza Mi Trompeta 3:01
3. Cógele El Golpe 2:45
4. Trombón Criollo 3:11
5. Malanga Amarillo 3:17
6. Pamparana 2:37
7. Oye Mi Tres Montuno 2:45
8. Controversia En (De) Metales 3:01
9. A Gozar Timbero 3:03
10. Sorpresa En (De) Flauta 2:49
11. Estudio En Trompeta 2:24
12. Guajeo De Saxos 2:25
13. La Floresta 2:43
14. Avance Juvenil 3:15
15. Redención 3:13
16. Descarga Mambo 5:03
17. Juán Pescao 2:52
18. El Bombín De Perucho 4:29
19. Descarga Mexicana 4:58
20. El Fantasma 5:18
21. Bilongo 2:55
22. Descarga Número Uno 2:59
23. Descarga Número Dos 2:50

Disc 2
1. Leche Con Rón 2:55
2. Las Boinas De Cachao 2:58
3. Cha Cha Chá De Los Pollos 2:47
4. Mucho Humo 3:17
5. Es Diferente 2:51
6. Oguere Mi China 3:23
7. Descarga General 3:40
8. El Manisero 3:03
9. Descarga Guajira 5:51
10. La Inconclusa 3:31
11. La Luz 4:41
12. Rumba Sabrosa 5:05
13. Descarga Ñáñiga 5:13
14. Cachao Te Pone A Bailar 16:11
15. Descarga Cha Cha 6:25
16. Popurrit De Congas 5:34

Personnel on Disc 1:

Tracks #1-12 - Cachao y su Ritmo Caliente
Alejandro 'El Negro' Vivar (tp), Generoso 'El Tojo' Jiménez (tb), Richard Egües (fl.), Emilio Peñalver (ts), Virgilio Lesama (bar), Orestes López 'Macho' (p), Andrés Echevarría 'Niño Rivera' (tres), Guillermo Barreto (pailas, timbales), Tata Güines (congas), Rogelio 'Yeyo' Iglesias (bongos)and Gustavo Tamayo (güiro).
Recorded in Havana, 1957

Tracks #13-20 - Cachao y su Conjunto
Same personnel as above except A. Armenteros (tp) added, Peñalver, Egües & Lesama out. Los Papines (congas) replace Güines on some tracks.
Recorded in Havana, 1957-1959

Tracks #21-23 - Cachao with Chico OFarrill and His Cuban All-Stars
Featuring soloists Richard Egües (fl), Osvaldo Peñalver (as), Emilio Peñalver (ts), Pedro Justiz 'Peruchín' (p), Tata Güines (congas).
Recorded in Havana, 1957-1959

Personnel on Disc 2:

Tracks #1-5 - Cachao with Walfredo de los Reyes and His All-Stars
Luis Escalante (tp), Julio Guerrero (fl), Jesús Caunedo (as), Paquito Echevarría (p), Walfredo de los Reyes (timbales), Los Papines (congas).
Recorded in Havana, 1957-1959

Tracks #6-8 - Cachao y su Ritmo Caliente
Same personnel as CD 1 #1-12 except Armando Armenteros (tp), Enemeldo Jiménez (as) added, Egües out.
Recorded in Havana, 1957-1961

Tracks #9-16 - Cachao y su Conjunto
Same personnel as above except Lesama and Peñalver out.
Recorded in Havana, 1959-1961

Brazil

Lost Bossa and Samba Jazz Classics from the Swinging Brazilian 60's. For the connoisseur of authentic dancefloor gems from far-flung corners of the globe, or quite simply if you just love good music, this collection of lost Brazilian classics is not to be missed!

Brilliant compilation of rare and hard to find 1960s Brazilian jazz, featuring some classic tracks and some little known gems. Masterfully compiled by Italy's number one Brazilian jazz afficionado, DJ Nicola Conte, this is an 'all killer, no filller' selection of beautiful, melodic, mysterious, and atmospheric instrumental and vocal jazz that is as delicate as the subtlest moments of the US Debussy/Satie-inspired modal jazz painists such as Bill Evans or Herbie Hancock, yet so robust that many of these tracks have set dancefloors alight at clubs such as London's lengendary Dingwalls, and Italy's Fez Club. These tracks are culled from rare 10" and 12" albums and 7" singles that were issued in Brazil in the 1960s and have since become highly prized collectors items among jazz fans, not just for their rarity, but because Brazilian jazz is something special. Very highly recommended!

A Great Sampling of Classic Brazilian Vinyls

I've never really been disappointed by anything Schema's Nicola Conte has worked on. Whether it be his countless remixes or his own individual albums, he has a tendency to add his own spin and influence to whatever it is he wants to release. Following him and his music through the years, it's been very clear that Brazilian musical culture are one of the strongest sources or influences in his musical career. That Far Out Records would request for him to put together this album in what was celebrating 50 years of Bossa Nova, I think it was an excellent choice. Far Out Records themselves have done justice to Brazilian music and musicians, with stunning releases from Marcos Valle, Joyce, Os Ipanemas and Azymuth all in their cataloge; along with the future in Sabrina Malheiros, Democustico and loads of other promising musicians. When you have a quality producer with a classy label, the project should be bound for success.

And this album doesn't disappoint in the slightest. It is a tribute to some of the lesser known bossa nova and Brazilian Jazz musicians that may fly under the radar. What it looks like Nicola Conte did was comb his (and maybe Gerardo Frisinas) extensive vinyl collection, looking through different labels for their top artists. Som Livre being one of them. The album starts out very well with Tenorio Jr's "Nebuloso", which sets the mood perfectly with dancing keys and cymbal. Wonderful piano work, so light. It's followed up with Trio Maraya's particularly dark version of "Canto De Ossanha", but with wonderful harmonizing, which also makes me think of Os Cariocas. I also really dug Wanda Sa's "Vivo Sonhando". Big band bossa nova with her silky soft yet slightly raspy voice. You're transported to the 60's in Brasil when you hear her sing. "Balanco Do Mar" by Ana Lucia's another of my favorites on the album. Other songs on this one that were stand-outs from the past were "Preconceito" by Yvette, which was pretty much the publicized song for the album, "Vamos Embora Uau", "Samba Em Blue" "Gosto De Ser Como Sou" and "Samadhi", which was a fantastic outro, although it actually reminds me more of a cool day in autumn.

This is a very good sample of 50's & 60's Brazilian jazz and Bossa Nova. It reminds me more of a jazz club and darker, cooler days, but the sound will really transport you to that time-period. This is unique when you consider how many bossa nova compilations there are and that they usually consist of the more obvious staples. However it's not entirely unique at all, as more than anything, it reminded me of a very old vintage vinyl compilation called "Velha Bossa Nova", which featured the likes of Walter Santos, old works by Flora Purim, Mario Castro Neves and Alaide Costa among others. Exact same feel and vibe, and I assume Nicola Conte was channeling that approach and nostalgia. Also, Nicola Conte's label-mate, Gerardo Frisina, did a compilation for the Deja-Vu label called 'Rio Evolutions' which was similar in approach to this compilation. Claudia's track can be found there too, along with a few general latin-jazz songs that were also quality. Speaking of Claudia, some of her songs are particularly hard to find through the years since they never made the transfer to vinyl, and this could be said of a lot of the other artists here. To me, it's a gift to be able to hear them again - or for the first time. -bordersj2

Viagem Vol. 1 - A Collection Of 60's Brazilian Bossa Nova & Jazz Samba

1. Tenorio JR - Nebulosa 1:53
2. Trio Maraya - Canto De Ossanha 2:50
3. Hector Costita Sexteto - Tokio 3:53
4. Wanda Sa - Vivo Sonhando 2:16
5. Ana Lucia - Balanco Do Mar 2:09
6. Zimbo Trio - Zimbo Samba 2:01
7. Djalma Dias & Sambossa 5 - Cidade Vazia 2:59
8. Octeto de Cesar Camargo Mariano - Sambules 2:15
9. Yvette - Preconceito 3:49
10. Bossa Jazz Trio - Vamos Embora Uau 2:17
11. Sansa Trio - Samba Em Blue 2:27
12. Edgard & Os Tais - Bambe Lo 3:26
13. Claudia & Brazilian Octopus - Gusto Deser Como Sou 1:59
14. Som 3 - Margarida B 3:03
15. Tenorio JR - Samadhi 3:14

A Swinging Journey through the Lost Classics of 60's Popular Brazilian Music. Compiled by the mastermind of Brazilian samba jazz and bossa nova Nicola Conte. The Viagem series dusts down the rarest Brazilian bossa nova and hard-edged samba jazz cuts to deliver a collection dripping with the soul of 60s Rio and Sao Paulo. Again compiled by the don of forgotten Brazilian classics, for Volume 2 Nicola Conte digs deeper in to his private record stash to deliver 18 stellar, seldom compiled tracks circa 1963-70. Blue Note and Schema recording artist and Brazilian music devotee Nicola Conte stamps his quality and integrity on to this perfectly mixed journey through his unique favourites from a defining era in Brazil's cultural history.

Another Dive Into the Vaults, Another Stellar Compilation

The first Viagem from Nicola Conte was great. It featured gems from the 60's and maybe a 70's or two snuck in that were perhaps forgotten in music transitions (vinyl-cassette-CD-Mp3's, etc.). He picked up right where he left off for Viagem 2 with more musical treasures from 1960's Brasil. Isn't Far Out Records class? 2009, they brought back a fantastic older release of Joyce's that had almost been forgotten, they have Gilles Peterson put together their latest Brazilika mixed set and here they continue with another great series by having Nicola Conte, easily one of the best in the business at spotting and collecting vintage classics.

The format is the same, so on to the songs. The album opens up terrifically with "Sambinha", as performed by Vera. Gentle album highlighted by her very rich voice. Following up is Claudia with "Deixa O Morro Cantar". What a strong voice she's got and always a big-band that manages to sound so distinctly Brazilian. Janinha's rendition of "Amanha" is also fantastic, though I loved the older version because of the beautiful piano intro. Another song with a sound that will truly take you back to 1960's Brasil (for better and worse, prefer the better) is As meninas with "Redondo Sambao" (Big, Round Samba). Beautiful, voices of course take you to Quarteto Em Cy with their near flawless harmonizing that makes the song sound wonderfully simple and playful. Other top tracks to me were "Miss Bikini", "Bossa So" and I also enjoyed hearing "Ninguem Na Rua" again. It was interesting that for good measure, another version of "Balanco Do Mar" was featured here. There's a magic that Nicola managed to keep together in the sound of the old records & I enjoyed every title on the disc.

This is recommended to anyone that's a fan of old Brazilian classics. It's not just Bossa nova or MPB, it's a healthy dosage of jazz as well. If you want some songs that weren't the most popular but still show the musical diversity and quality of Brazilian music; and maybe more simply if you enjoyed the first Viagem, you should hear this one as it lives up to the first and is perhaps even more original somehow. There was an old vinyl called "Velha Bossa Nova" that to this day I still love & that one had Maysa, Flora Purim, Jonny Alf and many others. This comes the closest to mimmicking that sound - over 30 years after that album was released! Another thing I loved is that you can literally play both of these albums back-to-back. Wonderful consistency.

Oh - a nice touch was also the creative artwork, front and back. Looking even closer at the drawing on the cover you can see Nicola holding Joyce's 'New Old' album, re-released on Far Out Records that same year. -bordersj2

Viagem Vol. 2 - A Swinging Journey Through The Lost Classics Of 60's Popular Brazilian Music

1. Vera - Sambinha 3:09
2. Cláudia - Deixa O Morro Cantar 2:28
3. Janinha - Amanhã 2:35
4. Maria Lucia - Maria Moita 1:35
5. Flora - Maria Fulô 2:29
6. As Meninas - Redondo Sambão 2:21
7. Tenório Jr. - Consolação 2:26
8. Tema Três - Yema Três 2:27
9. Anamaria Bom - Queimada 2:46
10. Márcia Com Manfredo Fest Trio - Miss Bikini 1:51
11. Lygia - Se A Tristeza Chegar 2:29
12. José Roberto Bertrami - Kébar 3:19
13. Cesar Roldão Vieira - Sem Deus A Família 1:59
14. Sansa Trio - Bossa Só 2:30
15. Bobby Mckay - Bossa Nova 1:50
16. Zil Rozendo - Balanço Do Mar 2:17
17. Tenório Jr. - Sambinha 2:45
18. Dick Farney E Sua Orchestra - Ninguém Na Rua 3:18

Travelling back to 1960’s Brazil, the Viagem series takes its third voyage. Digging further still, Brazilophile and Italian jazz don Nicola Conte has re-discovered eighteen choice rarities from 1963 – 1970. As the global centre for all that was musically chic, these bossa nova and samba jazz hybrids blend the passion of South America and Africa with the sophisticated style of Europe and North America. Often written to take bossa back to the people and in protest against the dictatorship that took hold in 1964 these long-neglected classics are expertly conjured together by Blue Note and Schema recording artist Conte. Poetic and wildly evocative the mix perfectly mirrors the creator’s laid-back cool and a swinging cosmopolitan Brazil.

Italian DJ and producer Nicola Conte is a great enthusiast of Brazilian bossa nova. That becomes clear after listening to Viagem 3 – A Collection of 60’s Brazilian Bossa Nova and Jazz Samba, the third CD in his Viagem series. Filled with rarities and undiscovered tunes from Brazilian music, this CD is an invitation to a viagem (or a trip) to the soothing rhythm of bossa nova.

However, it must be said that the eighteen tracks are not exclusively dedicated to bossa nova. Nicola Conte has also incorporated some Afro rhythms and chosen songs which are highly influenced by jazz. It’s easy listening at its best!

Even for those who are well acquainted with Brazilian music – including native Brazilians – most of the names of the artists featured in this compilation are not very well-known. Most of them have never recorded a full album, only EP’s. That is exactly what gives more value to Nicola Conte’s work of researching and finding these rare artists and recordings.

The period of time researched by Conte is between the 60’s and 70’s, probably the most interesting time for Brazilian music production. It was in this decade that Brazil went through a violent period of military dictatorship and censorship over music.

Although this “momentum” of Brazilian music has been previously researched and revisited, Conte went to find other music expressions that were going on at that time. The songs featured in this album are almost naive, only talking about love, samba dancing and general aspects of Brazilian everyday life. That is to show that some artists had other ways of “protesting” against the censorship and the military government.

This album is an eclectic compilation of different music genres, all related to samba in a certain way. All the songs feature a big range of typical Brazilian instruments, great arrangements, poetic lyrics and a general “being in Brazil feeling”. The first track, “Fora de hora” by Dalmo Castello, is a great samba song with a typical “Brazilian relaxing on a beach” style rhythm. It is just a start for a great musical trip provided by this amazing Viagem 3. The ambitious combination of funky afro-sambas like “Canto do Quilombo” and “Samba de Negro” with jazzy bossa nova songs such as Copa 70 make this compilation a must listen for anyone who is interested in Brazilian music, from experts to beginners. Moreover, the sun is out, British spring finally has arrived, and I am sure that this great selection of Brazilian music will make the skies look bluer and the sun seem warmer! -Eduardo Pagnoncelli

Somehow Viagem Returns - And Still Impresses!

Far Out Records has a wonderful stable of musicians and producers that enjoy working with them. From artists like Joyce, Marcos Valle, Azymuth and Sabrina Malheiros, they've got the experienced and the future - as Sabrina recently sung the national anthem in Brasil's match with Scotland maybe two weeks ago (from this review). As for producers, Kenny Dope (MAW), 4 Hero and Gilles Peterson have contributed to their Brazilika series, and the talented Nicola Conte has carved a niche with the Viagem series. Spanning three volumes now, each one has managed to dive deep into the history and valuts of obscure Brazilian record labels, un-earthing so really terrific songs that are well off the beaten path. Everybody knows "The Girl From Ipanema" and the voice of Joao Gilberto. But not too many really know how rich the jazz scene was in Brasil as well and that there was much more to Bossa Nova and Jazz in Brasil at the time. Nicola does this and with Viagem tends to have a bit of a darker flavour to the music.

This Viagem doesn't disappoint. Wonderful songs, terrific production and highly imaginative arrangements. It opens up with Dalmo Castello's "Fora De Hora" which beautifully sets the stage for the album - the 60's, Brazil. You can literally feel the era in that time, the natural beauty of Brazil but then the impending dictatorship. It's followed up nicely by O Triangulo's "Voce Que Nao vem", a song that will remind you of Quarteto Em Cye, the terrific accapella group. Only this song isn't an accapella, it's a nice, almost haunting and easy bossa. Aizita uses inflections in her voice in "Faz de Conta" while Octons "Tokyo Blues" should sound familiar to anyone that has Viagem vol. 1, as it's simply an alternative version to the classic song (The other was done by Hector Costita Sexteto). Octon's though is decidedly different, a little more frenetic with it's brass opening and direct. "Mar Amar" was nice, and maybe a good personal touch as you can tell that Nicola still works with Rosalia De Souza, who included the song on one of her recent albums. Bossa Trio, Henrique Benny and many others have other terrific songs that do the album justice, as well as this incredibly rich era in Brazilian music. The album fittingly ends with Werther's "Literal", breezy and a bit of an eery outro.

I'd certainly recommend this album - especially if you have and enjoyed the previous two viagem releases. I'd also recommend it if you enjoyed the random Bossa Nova or Brazilian compilation vinyls that would come out in the 60's/70's like "Velha Bossa Nova". There are a lot of songs here that probably have never been put into CD format, let alone digital download before as some of these songs were never on full length albums, but were the odd 45 here and there! This album isn't all Bossa - it has a healthy dosage of big band Brazilian music that does such a good job of painting a picture of the times, you can almost see the ball-rooms and functions that they were performed in. Definitely check this out, and if you do check this out and like it, be sure to have a look at a few other artists in Far Out's catalog. And... be sure to check out Rio Evolutions, a series done by Gerardo Frisina. He is actually Nicola Conte's label mate at Schema Records in Italy. The song "Macumba" by Claudia was an interesting choice, as Gerardo used the song along with "Gosto De Ser Com Voce" in Rio Evolutions II. The series was released for Deja Vu records, and has great soudntrack styled songs as well as a wonderful, soaring Nicola Conte remix to Aldemaro Romero's "Tema De La Onda".

One warning I do have on the album though - if you download it, make sure you're getting the full 18 track album as some sites will probably have partial albums but present them as full length (Apple's site has done this a number of times). -bordersj2

Viagem Vol. 3 - A Collection Of 60s Brazilian Bossa Nova And Jazz Samba

1. Dalmo Castelo - Fora de Hora 2:47
2. O Triangulo - Voce Que Nao Vem 2:04
3. Luiz Carlos Sa - Canto Do Quilombo 2:31
4. Aizita - Faz De Conta 2:03
5. Octons - Tokyo Blues 3:21
6. Vera Brasil - Vai Joao 2:40
7. Walter Matesco - Mar Amar 1:29
8. Marisa Barroso - Sem Fim 1:57
9. Marcio Diniz - Mulata Dengosa 1:39
10. Carlos Sodre - Samba De Negro 2:35
11. Bossa Trio - Tema em Do 2:40
12. Kazinho - O Samba Ta Ficando Bom 1:51
13. Henrique Benny, JT Meirelles - Chegar De Brigar 2:08
14. Wan Trio - Selvagem 3:09
15. Eliana Pittman - Batucada Negro 4:05
16. Claudia - Macumba 2:12
17. Brasil 40 Graus - Copa 70 3:02
18. Werther - Litoral 3:33

Star Italian DJ/ recording artist Nicola Conte returns with another selection of Brazilian Samba, Bossa and Jazz gems from the 60’s. Picking individual songs has limited value as all the tracks are superb. Try the brilliant 7 De Ouros ‘So Balanco’ and Marcos Moran’s sublime ‘Batucada Surgiu’. Other cuts to mention include Luli ‘Ballero’, Anilza Leoni’s catchy ‘Balumba’ and Quarteto De Bruno Solis’ ‘Upa Neguinho’.

Far Out Recrodings is delighted to unveil the fourth instalment of this unique and diverse compilation series. 'Viagem 4,' Nicola Conte's seminal reboot of swing series highlights the upfront bossa and samba jazz rhythms that have kept the cafes, clubs and jazz halls of Brazil heaving for over five decades The Viagem series takes its fourth voyage back to the 60's era swinging Brazil. Digging ever deeper, Brazilophile and Italian jazz don Nicola Conte has re-discovered seventeen choice rarities 1962 - 1970. As the global centre for all that was musically cool, these bossa nova and samba jazz hybrids blend the passion and far out darkness of Afro-Brazilian music with the sophisticated styles of Europe and North America. Often written to take bossa back to the people and in protest against the dictatorship that held sway in 1964, these long-neglected classics are expertly conjured together by Blue Note, Universal and Schema recording artist Nicola Conte.

BBC Review
“Lost Bossa and Samba Jazz Classics from the Swinging Brazilian 60s” is about as sharp a subtitle for this excellent compilation as could be hoped for. And yet one might also cite a bit of simple statistical trivia, which is just as meaningful, albeit in a more lateral way.

Nicola Conte, highly respected DJ, vinyl sleuth and artist in his own right, has hand-picked 17 tracks that all make for a running order of just over 40 minutes. In other words, this is a very concise collection. Viagem 4, however, does not appear at all under length.

That is because of the enormous detail packed into each piece, which come in at just under three minutes each but feel a lot longer. A second or third listen lays bare both the art and science: recorded between 1962 and 1970, the tracks are much more than "tunes". They are proper compositions with arrangements. That is to say: substantial harmonic colour, richly voiced chords, changes of key, myriad parts for rhythm section, horns and voices, and a strong sense of narrative. They are short stories that are long on ideas.

While some of the themes, such as Consolacao, Outra Vez and Upa Neguinho will be only too familiar to adepts of Brazilian music, the names of, respectively, Myrzo Barroso, Bossa Jazz 3 and Quarteto de Bruno Solis may well not be. And, despite being some 50 years old, the sheer zest and freshness of the sounds is hard to resist.

Although the blend of big band music, with its bustling swing, and Afro-samba, with its rustling percussion, is one of the great defining features of the majority of tracks, the use of close vocal harmonies brings both a drama and romance to several pieces. Never is this more apparent than on Quarteto 004’s quite dazzling O Morro Nao Tem Vez.

If the marriage of jazz and Brazilian music is one made in heaven, then this is a set of sophisticated yet earthy wedding songs of the highest order.

--Alistair Lawrence

Take 4! Viagem Returns!

Nicola Conte. He is a nice guy, and a fantastic producer and artist. Nicola has been a member of the Idizioni-Ishtar label for many years and has even released a few works with Blue Note. It is unfair to label him as just a producer and artist - I think more than anything he is a fan of music with an acute interest in bossa (Brazilian, Italian and French among others) and jazz. That's why it was a coup for the great label Far Out Recordings out of England to secure his services on this extraordinary series of discs. I honestly did not think there would be a fourth edition, but thankfully there is and it stands measures up quite well. The beauty of the Viagem series is that Nicola includes artists that fall off the beaten path of Brazilian music and jazz from the 60's to about 1970.

And this edition is no exception as these are beyond the rarest of rare tracks. I think it is one of the better releases in the series; perhaps even my favorite becuase there is considerable history behind these gruops and the break-away groups, including the artists involved in them. It starts out wonderfully with 7 De ouros "So Balanco", then is followed up with Myrzo Barroso's soulful rendition of the Baden Powell classic, "Consolacao". Then you have Quarteto 004 with "O Morro Nao Tem Vez"... complete with wonderful harmonizing adn a certain snap to the music. Bossa Jazz 3's take on "Outra Vez" was also quite nice with Marcos Rezende's trademark piano work. Other fantastic songs were Quarteto De Bruno Soli's version of Edu Lobo's "Upa Neguinho", while I also liked Bossa Nova +5's "Saudade Vem Correndo. Granted, very little can ever compare to the original featuring Luiz Bonfa, his wife Maria Toledo and Stan Getz but this still manages to capture some of the dreamy charm. Which leads to the strong finish of the cd. Gilda Horta's version of "Litoral" is also quite beautiful. I believe her brother is Toninho, one of the artists of the original version of this song. Her voice is very sweet and there's a quite nice orchestrated build in the song. But the best really was saved for last as Rosana Tapajos's whispy vocals caress "Te Quero Assim", or translated into "You want it like this..." which is quite fitting when you hear the way she sings. There's quite a nice, smooth trumpet solo in the song as well.

I highly recommend this album. One of the disappointments of the second or third Viagem was actually the quality of the mastering and recording, as there was far too much interference and static in the songs. This product is much better so the fidelity nuts like myself will be pleased at this. If there is one criticism I have, it's that the names of the musicians that make up the groups was not included. For example, it is important to know of Antonio Carlos Jobim's & Eumir Deodato's role within Quarteto 004. Also would have been nice to see the labels associated with these acts get their due as well (RGA, Odeon I think, etc.) which probably could have been obtained from Primeiro Promocoes. But - these are details away from the actual beautiful music that was made. This is not a 'typical' Bossa NOva album, and if you are a fan of the genre and love the low-key, jazz vibe and want something a bit obscure in the genre, do not miss this. -bordersj2

Viagem Vol. 4 - Lost Bossa & Samba Jazz Classics From The Swinging Brazilian '60s

1. 7 De Ouros - So Balanço 2:38
2. Myrzo Barroso - Consolaçao 2:35
3. Quarteto 004 - O Morro Naó Tem Vez 2:02
4. Bossa Jazz 3 - Outra Vez 2:21
5. Luli - Ballero 2:45
6. Anilza Leoni - Balumba 2:48
7. Bwana Trio - Cute 2:03
8. Shirley e O Tuca Trio - Gosto Do Que e Bom 1:51
9. Betinho Do Vibraphone - Pandeiro Triste 2:04
10. As Compositoras - Ponto De Vista 2:24
11. Luiz Henrique & Os Copa 5 - Samba Novo 2:02
12. Quarteto De Saba - Pra Que Chorar 2:57
13. Marcos Moran - Batucada Surgiu 2:17
14. Quarteto De Bruno Solis - Upa Neguinho 2:07
15. Bossa Nova + 5 - Saudade Vem Correndo 2:45
16. Gilda Horta - Litoral 2:14
17. Rosana Tapajos - Te Quero Assim 2:38

The Brazilophile is back! Italian jazz don, Nicola Conte (Blue Note, Universal, Schema) returns from another voyage in time with Viagem 5, a collection of 17 sizzling tracks recorded during Brazil's troublesome yet prolific decade of 1960s and beyond. As always, Nicola re-discovers rare jazz samba, bossa and swinging mpb recordings of stunning beauty and intoxicating swing, making Viagem 5 a possible contender for best volume yet of this connoisseur series. This state of the art collection from Far Out Recordings includes a striking version of Tom Jobim's classic Vou de Contar, interpreted here by Quarteto 004, the contagious groove of Se Você Quiser Mas Sem Bronquear in the beautiful voice of Elizabeth Viana, and the irresistible samba funk of Take it Easy My Brother Charlie recorded by Breno Sauer and his quartet. "As always Nicola's tracklists are absolutely impeccable" - Laurent Garnier

Nice Viagem, with More Gems

I don't know how he does it, but he does it again. Rare groove, Brazilian tracks from label vaults to put together the "Viagem" series. I admit that when this series started, I thought it may last just one or two volumes. But fast-forward a very quick 5 years, and here we are at number 5. Full credit to the Far Out Records crew for knowing that when they have someone with such a depth knowledge of Brazilian music, like Nicola Conte has, then they have to use it. Mr. Conte, for those new to him and the series, is an Italian musician, producer and DJ who is gifted in all three. He usually releases albums of his own on Idizioni-Ishtar/Schema records in Italy, or Blue Note Records. Here, he works with London based label Far Out Recordings, occasionally focusing on specific music labels on the scene at the time.

This, Viagem 5, doesn't disappoint. It starts out well with the wonderful Quarteto 004's "Vou Te Contar". Others may know the song by the title 'Wave'. It has a real cool, harmonized barbershop singing on the boardwalk of Copacabana feel to it. Lovely intro. Sweet vocals follow with "Onda Quebrando" and then Breno Sauer Quartet's take on the Jorge Ben classic "Take it Easy My Brother Charlie". There's something about the original I still prefer to this one here, but it's still rather good. Nicola dug up a pretty obscure version of "Vim De Santana", which I remember from Quarteto Novo. Indeed, it may have even featured in an earlier Viagem album; I like the song but the transfer of the song is admittedly off somewhat, either because the vinyl itself is that worn/old or the stylus was dirty. Papudinho's "Ye Mele" was also very good, and for fans of Nicola Conte and his remixing days, you should recognize the harmonizing intro because he used it on his own remix to Jaffa's "Elevator" circa 2000-2001. Other songs I enjoyed were the dancing vocals on "Olhou Pra Mim", Grupo Arembebe's "Iaia", Nelsinho and Os Ipanemas (yes!) "Babalao" and Marilia Medalha's "Zana". The hilight of the album to be though was Elizabeth Viana's "Se Voce Quiser Mas Sem Bronquear". It's sun-drenched with playful vocal fitting for any beach, either in Brasil or Italy. A true rarity, it's what the series is all about.

I recommend this. While you may have a song duplicate (to the prior 4 Viagems), the renditions are unique enough to give a fresh perspective of the title. Also, it's well worth the purchase to complete the collection; with 5 Viagem's, it's a healthy amount of Brazilian rare-groove that's off the more well known Bossa Nova path. These songs are so good, they paint a picture of the musical scene of the era in which they were born. Released in May, it was a great album to usher in the warmer days the summer would bring. But I couldn't give it five stars as some of the tracks suffered from the same fidelity issue that Theo's song had. Also, I would have liked to have had a better list of the songs in the cd with the artists making up the groups, and some additional history. This is something Soul Jazz Records does incredibly well. But these are not enough to recommend against the album and I'd recommend a hard copy over compressed if at all possible.

Finally, if you do have this and enjoy it be sure to check out the previously mentioned Viagem's 1-4, a vinyl title "Velha Bossa Nova", a series on Verve records titled "Blue Brazil: Blue Note in a Latin Groove", and finally Soul Jazz Recording's albums titled "Bossa Nova: Rise of Brazilian Music", "Bossa Beat", and "Bossa Jazz". Of course, beware of song duplication between these compilation series. -bordersj2

Viagem Vol. 5 - Lost Bossa And Samba Jazz Classics From The Swinging Brazilian '60s

1. Quarteto 004 - Vou te Contar 2:47
2. Neyde Fraga - Onda Quebrando 2:25
3. Breno Sauer Quarteto - Take it Easy My Brother Charlie 3:11
4. Samba 5 - Berimbau 2:52
5. Theo - Vim de Santana 2:56
6. Conjunto Sérgio Carvalho - Balaio 2:50
7. Papudinho - Yê Melê 2:29
8. Dr. Severino & Conjunto Subverson - Olhou Pra Mim 1:53
9. Zumba 5 - Quintessência 2:33
10. Nelsinho & Os Ipanemas - Balaô 2:39
11. Edith Vega - Matando a Miséria a Pau 2:33
12. Elizabeth Viana - Se Você Quiser Mas Sem Bronquear 2:48
13. Marília  Medalha - Zana 2:49
14. Luis Carlos Vinhas - Tanganica 4:36
15. Grupo Arembepe - Iaiá 2:59
16. Pedrinho Mattar Trio - Neurótico 3:24
17. Jazz  4 - Crepúsculo 3:51

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