Barrabas – Barrabas (1972)

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Barrabas
“Barrabas”
RCA Victor APL1-0219 (US release)

Mono mix (stereo labels)
Genre: Rock, Latin, Funk / Soul

A1  Wild Safari  4:57
A2  Try And Try  6:21
A3  Only For Men  3:34
A4  Never In This World  3:31
B1  Woman  5:07
B2  Cheer Up  3:51
B3  Rock And Roll Everybody  3:34
B4  Chicco  3:48

Record Company – RCA Corporation
Recorded At – Estudios RCA, Madrid
Pressed By – RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis

Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Vocals – Miguel
Drums, Vocals – Fernando
Engineer – J. Cobos*, M. Barrios, N. Dogan
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Ricky*
Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar – Iñaki
Liner Notes – Tom Paisley
Organ, Piano – Juan
Producer – Fernando Arbex
Saxophone, Percussion, Flute, Drums – Ernesto

Notes – Dynaflex pressing

Recorded at the RCA Studios, Spain

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair, manually auditioned, and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Not their best, leaning more towards the rock and less of the funky discotheque stuff they would eventually be known for. Back cover compares the lead singer to Rod “The Mod” Stewart. I’m not so sure about that claim. Actually they kind of remind me of early Traffic here, but with even dopier lyrics. “Only For Men” could have been a TV advertisement for the 1972 equivalent of AXE Body Spray, but the more you listen to it, the more it sounds like a creepy “Men’s Rights Advocate” anthem.  The two big smash cuts here were the first tracks on either side, “Wild Safari” and “Woman.  I was assured by a friend about the former, “Wild Safari was THE track blasting out everywhere in Can Piacafort, Majorca during my holiday there in the summer of 1972.” The record definitely has its appeal, and it may grow groovier as you listen to it more.  It’s easy to see how the locked-in rhythm section was already in place very early and how that made this group a fave of beat farmers everywhere.  It’s a stoney party record with Spaniards singing in awkward English, so what’s not to like?  I may not think it’s their best album, but you’re welcome to disagree.  It’s definitely a more consistent listen than their second album, Power, which finds them meandering into different styles, including an attempt to be some sort of Spanish T-Rex, this debut is just not as good as later efforts like ¡Soltad a Barrabás! and Heart of the City.  In any case I plan to post some of their other records soon, by which I mean at some point before I die.

Don’t be put off by the taped-together, busted jacket of this copy – this was a radio station duplicate copy that was probably never played before I got hold of it, although the Dynaflex vinyl is inconsistent as it is wont to be.  Also note that the label says stereo but the mix is very much in mono.  I’m not sure if this is a mistake at the pressing plant or a genuine AM Radio mix of the whole album?  There is definitely a stereo mix of Wild Safari, but I’m not sure about the rest.  Maybe some helpful reader can chime in.  Oh yes, and this record was released with at least two alternate covers.  The French one (which also boasted a different title, Afro-Soul) is particularly groovy, I think.  Oh yeah, and today’s my birthday, woo hoo and three cheers for me.

Spanish cover

Spanish cover

French cover variant

French cover variant


A word:  times are tough all over, and I’m reinventing myself for the third or fourth time in life to adjust to our New Reality.  I am trying to save some money so that I can relocate to a place where there are actual jobs for people with my kinds of skills.  I’m stuck in a rut, y’all, and it’s been hell getting out. If you enjoy reading these posts and hearing the music, consider making a donation using one of the buttons on the sidebar of the blog.  Any amounts given help me pay server costs and continue to have make posts about good (or good-ish) music.  Any amounts are welcome.  Thanks!


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Panama! Latin, Calypso and Funk on the Isthmus 1965-75 (2006)


From ‘Dusted’ online magazine
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One might guess that Panama’s strategic geographic location between continents, cultures, oceans and seas would contribute to a local music flowing with varied streams of influence. Proof of such a supposition can be found on this engaging collection. Focusing on the fecund 1960s and ’70s, Panama! reveals an effusion of hot and cool grooves that draw from various blends of indigenous styles and rhythms, Afro-Latin jazz, and funky American soul.

The collection begins in high style with strong descarga-style blowing by sax-man Jose “Chomba” Silva on Los Exagerados’s “Panama Esta Bueno Y Ma.” With a big-but-gentle Sonny Rollins tone, Silva lays down lines that dance with the rhythmic facility of Antillean Beguine. Rafael Labasta adds searing, stratospheric Cuban-style trumpet to the dialed-in montuno laid down by piano, upright bass and percussion. It’s Latin jazz with a few surprising – and very appealing – twists. (The Afro-Cuban/Puerto Rican/Salsa continuum was obviously beloved in Panama during those decades, and related approaches show up on many of the tracks collected here.)

There are other directions represented, too, including the sort of soul-funk workouts exemplified by the likes of The Exciters, Los Fabulosos Festivals, and Los Mozambiques. Here we are treated to some ripping, heavily-effected guitars to go along with a distinctively Latin/Caribbean poly-rhythmic spin on funk and rock, and, perhaps best of all, some compelling and soulful Spanish-inflected vocals that are quite unlike anything else in the Afro-Latin Diaspora. There’s a certain accent and timbral warmth in these vocal tones that seems unique to the region.

Papi Brandau Y Sus Ejecutivos’s “Viva Panama” offers up a taste of the accordion-driven cumbia that is the music of the nation’s interior, and it also features some fine vocals, in this case a mix of male and female voices with a definite country tinge.

The collection also opens up what might be a whole new direction worthy of exploration: Panamanian calypso and mento. Los Silvertones’s “Old Buzzard” is a smooth mento with sweet, skipping high-life horns, elegant vocals, and a little taste of charanga flute. And sung in a rasping, story-telling style over rippling string band accompaniment, Lord Cobra’s reading of the Calypso classic “Rocombey” is an attention-getting tale of love and Voodoo .

As musically engaging as Panama! is, its overall appeal is enhanced by excellent liner notes. Roberto Ernesto Gyemant does a fine job of setting up the cultural and musical contexts of the records he and label honcho Miles Cleret selected. Even better, he tells some good stories about his own connections and how his quest turned up some interesting sources, conveying with passion and honesty the way his own heart led him to the heart of this not-so-well-known music. For those seeking “new” sounds in vintage Afro-Latin music, Panama! might well be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

This is an exceptional compilation from my favorite traffickers in rare grooves, Soundway Records. This one has inspired a second volume (which I don’t have), that’s how good it is! It’s hard for me to say much more than the Dusted review above, in all truth.

I swear the tune “The Exciters Theme” by The Exciters here made it onto a soundtrack somewhere, $5 to anyone who can clear that up for me.. Two of my favorite tracks on this are from The Exciters actually. Aside from the tunes, the liner notes are really something special. As mentioned in the review above, they are both personal and informative. Written by Roberto Ernesto Gyemont, they contextualize the music historically and culturally and in a very flowing and readable style. I *highly* encourage everyone who grabs this to take the time to read them, as it’s not everyday you come across this amazing combination of words, music, and also rare photos in a compilation like this. The sound is also excellent, surpassing much of the rare African material on other Soundway compilations. (This is not a criticism — a great deal of Soundway’s material iis extremely rare and sourced from the best vinyl available, which often is not in perfect shape….). I have yet to come across a Soundways comp that isn’t worth getting hold of, and this is one of the best they’ve done.

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