Caroline Crawford – Nice And Soulful (1979)
A stunning set of soul tunes from the lovely Caroline Crawford — produced by Bohannon, and some of his best work from the time! Caroline’s got a great style that moves past other club singers of the time — much more soulful and sophisticated than simple disco diva styles, drenched in a deeper soul sound that grounds the album nicely in a strong tradition of 70s soul. The production is tight, but unobtrusive — a bit like some of the best work that Barry White did with singers of a similar style — and the whole album sparkles with a freshness that will make you say “Hey, why I have I been missing this one all these years?” Titles include “The Strut”, “I’ll Be Here For You”, “Havin Fun”, “Facts Of Life”, and “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone”.
1. I’ll Be Here For You
2. Can’t Hold Me Back
3. Love Me Or Leave Me Alone
4. The Strut
5. The Facts Of Life
This is a highly underrated album, a result of Gil’s trip to Lagos with Caetano Veloso. Caetano recorded “Bicho”, also a classic, but this record holds its own against it any day. In my opinion, this is the last of Gil’s records that you can truly call a “classic.” It’s groundbreaking stuff that presages “world music” but the production values here are still nice, warm, and analog (no Peter Gabriel “Real World studios” sounding stuff here!).
Contains complete artwork!!
Review by Philip Jandovský
Unlike his friend and fellow Brazilian musical legend, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, through the years, has had a strong tendency to follow the temporary shifts in styles and trends that occur within popular music. Because of this the music of Gil usually has sounded very up to date when it was released, but often his recordings haven’t at all aged as gracefully as the timeless music of Caetano Veloso. The tracks on many of the albums of Gilberto Gil have also been of very uneven quality. Refavela is clearly one of the exceptions to this rule. Heavily inspired by traditional African and Afro-Brazilian sounds and rhythms, the songs on this album have aged very well indeed. The title of the album, Refavela, of course, refers to the slum quarters found in the large Brazilian cities, which are called favelas. Among the more famous songs on this album are the beautiful title track, “Refavela,” the funky “Babá Alapalá,” and the Afro-Brazilian rhythmic “Patuscada de Gandhi” and “Ilê Ayê.” There is also a cover of Tom Jobim’s “Samba do Avião.” Refavela is, without doubt, one of the most consistent and probably the best of all albums recorded by Gilberto Gil.
THE CHISA YEARS (Rare and Unreleased)
2006 BBE Records
Review by Thom Jurek
Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine met in 1961 at the Manhattan School of Music. They became friends, roommates, and collaborators. They began experimenting with putting together groups of African singers, studio musicians, and a fusion of South African township jive and urban gospel. The two started the CHISA label together in 1966 just before the pair scored big with Masekela’s smash, “Grazin’ in the Grass.” After the success of that track, they put more money into their label, and scored a distribution deal with Motown. The 14 sides here, on Chisa Years: 1965-1975 (Rare and Unreleased) are little known or forgotten tracks from the CHISA years. It’s true that the Crusaders recorded for CHISA in this period, but there are no tracks by them on this set — though most of the band appear here in one form or another. None of Masekela’s hits are here either. And it’s just as well. What is collected on this disc is a vibrant slew of cuts recorded by the pair. First there’s the smoking “Afro Beat Blues,” by Masekela and his band Ojah, who hailed from places like Nigeria and Ghana, that had been recruited during a successful African tour in 1973. The players had been introduced by Fela Kuti in Lagos. Other cuts here include the stunning “Mahalela,” “U Se Mcani,” “Macongo,” and “Melodi (Sounds of Home),” by Letta Mbulu. These are unreleased cuts from her debut and second albums from 1970 and ’73, respectively. The band includes four members of the Crusaders, Arthur Adams, Wayne West, Masekela, and Francisco Aguabella on percussion. The latter track is one of the most joyous and successful attempts to pull together the world of soul and township jive ever. Elsewhere, on “Amo Sakesa” by Baranta (featuring the great vocalist Miatta Fahnbulleh) funk grooves meet the music of the Soweto street in glorious aplomb. The four selections by Baranta are the most adventurous on the set. (Check the fuzz guitar, Nigerian funk bass line, and staggered drum breaks in “Ahvuomo.”) There are three tracks here by the Zulus. All of these register from the earliest sessions. This group included Mbulu as well as Caiphus Semenya, and contained seven vocalists as well as a rhythm section. Dig the hard-driving hand drum grooves in “Za Labalaba.” The polish and sophistication of the sounds in this song are literally astonishing, and prove a perfect, seamless meeting of American gospel and South African street music, but a close second is “Aredze,” with breezy Les Paul-styled guitar by Bruce Langhorn. The gospel piano in “Awe Mfana,” by the Johannesburg Street Band sidles up magnificently to the horns played by Masekela, the Crusaders’ Wilton Felder, and Wayne Henderson, and Al Abreus with tight Steve Cropper-styled guitar by Arthur Adams. In sum, there isn’t a weak moment on this entire collection. It’s appeal is wide and deep and one can only hope this is the first of many volumes of this material to appear. BBE Records has done a stellar job in making this slab available.
Various Artists – Bollywood Funk (2001)
Little is known about this compilation of Bollywood soundtrack cuts. The liner notes are not helpful at all – they don’t even reference the films these are from, let alone the artists. Even the discogs website has no idea. There is a review over at AMG but I prefer not to put it here because I don’t like to support their hack music journalism over there, and the review is particularly bad in it’s smarmy indie-boy kind of way. This is a great compilation, not necessarily “funk” but definitely funky and also pretty psychedelic, ranging (I’m guessing) from the mid-60s through the early 70s. Anyone who can help out with more info, please leave some comments!
Some great funk here and a classic still going strong! I´ve enjoyed this album so many times and I was thinking there might be some not listened to it yet. Now´s your chance!
Review by Phil Jandovsky, All Music Guide
This 1976 album is undoubtedly one of the greatest classics of Brazilian popular music, with Jorge Ben mixing funky samba, Afro-Brazilian beats, and crunching guitars to create one of the most fascinating sounds ever recorded in Brazil. The album kicks off with the raw, energetic “Ponta de Lança Africano,” and from there on it never slows down, but continues to pile up one fiery, funky gem after the other. The samba soul and samba funk scenes of the ’70s in Brazil produced many great artists and many great recordings, fully comparable with the best soul and funk music recorded in the U.S. during the same period. Jorge Ben was the most prominent figure of this scene and África Brasil is probably the most famous of his ’70s recordings. For any person who is interested in the music of Jorge Ben, or indeed Brazilian funk in general, there is no better sample of it than África Brasil.
1 Ponta de Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma)
2 Hermes Trimegisto Escreveu
3 O Filosofo
4 Meus Filhos, Meu Tesouro
5 O Plebeu
6 Taj Mahal
7 Xica da Silva
8 Historia de Jorge
9 Camisa 10 da Gavea
10 Cavaleiro Do Cavalo Imaculado
11 África Brasil (Zumbi)