Music Reviews

Afro-Rock

Volume 1

Evolver / Kona

One of the littlest known facts in music, even to the most avid audiophiles, is the effect funk had around the planet. Of course, we know the influence the music has had on hip-hop, R&B, and dance music today, but the fact that James Brown and his disciples were being heard and emulated around the world is a little known fact that is finally being acknowledged some 30 years after the fact. Earlier this year, we had Black Rio compiled by DJ Cliffy and last year’s Samba Soul 70 to document the influence they had in Brazil at the time. And now, we have the good folks at Kona damn near literally turning over every stone in Africa to mine for some funk gems (they literally found one record in a chicken coop). The result is this brilliant compilation with the promise of more to come.

The music here is full of that Afro-hippie funk sound of the late ’60s and early ’70s, that Black Power soul, with strong African currents running throughout each note. So, don’t expect exactly to get up on your down stroke. The influence here is mainly Fela (who changed his sound once he heard Brother James live and had his world rocked), especially on tracks like Mercury Dance Band’s “Envy No Good” and Orchestra Lissanga’s “Okuzua.” What you get mostly is a pan-African funk that is heavily reminiscent of Sons and Daughters of Lite, full of groove and optimism, before the dark reality of dictatorship and economic hard times changed the face of the Third World (check out Steele Beauttah’s “Africa”).

If you are familiar with and enjoy either Brazilian compilation or the ’70s Latin funk that was coming out of New York at the time (like Ocho, Joe Bataan, Tempo 70, Stone Alliance, or Harlem River Drive), this is the kind of international soul that will sustain you. It stands the test of time and is remarkably still funky. This is a gift for all audiophiles and crate diggers to enjoy to the utmost.

Instinct Records: http://www.instinctrecords.com


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