Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Various - The Reggae Disco Connection Part 3 (2013)

01 - cedric brooks - africa
02 - chalice - loosen up
03 - beres hammond - comin' at you
04 - joe gibbs & the professionals - bionic encounter
05 - lorna bennett - it's my house
06 - risco connection - good times (one more time inst)
07 - eric gale - red ground funk
08 - beres hammond - do this world a favour
09 - glp band - last funk
10 - guardian angel - last funk
11 - barry waite & ltd. - sting (part 1)
12 - ken boothe - down the road
13 - althea forest & togetherness - hey mister (instrumental)
14 - guardian angel - spirit
15 - ambelique - talk like that
16 - demos cates - ain't no stoppin' us now (1980)

More Jamaican Disco, Boogie & Modern Soul for you. If you enjoyed the first two compilations here and here - ''The Reggae Disco Connection Part 3'' will take you even deeper into the world of Jamaican Disco, Boogie & Modern Soul. This time I am trying to shed a light on 16 rare or overlooked songs out of Jamaica or from the Jamaican diaspora (UK, US, Canada) - again with a focus on Disco, Boogie, Modern Soul + a touch of Jamaican Funk & Soul. Most songs have either being recorded on the island, pressed on Jamaican labels and/or feature JA musicians. But compared to the first two compilations which still had a strong Reggae Feeling to most of the songs - this compilations is more or less straight Disco & Funk - often the accent of a singer being the only thing distinctive Jamaican...

I am starting this compilation with Africa by Cedric Brooks. Originally released on the 1979 album Sabebe by the Light Of Saba. ''Africa'' has some majestic horns arrangement, a sweet groovin' flute + a thumping funky bass line on top of a heavy steppers rhythm. But the arrangement of the song make it more akin to the disco sound than what is generally known as ''Steppers'' in Reggae. I would say, in Reggae music ''Rockers'' (yet another style of Reggae) heralded the militant hard (and fast) drum shots, and ''Steppers'' added the "four to the floor" bass drum beat. Steppers can be slow, it's the beat more than the speed of it. I'm sure some of you readers might come up with a better description though. I usually rather feel the music - and as I don't play an instrument myself or have any theoretical background in music - it's rather difficult for me to put it into technical characteristics. Back to Cedric Brooks. "Cedric 'Im' Brooks’ is arguably the most innovative saxophone players in all of reggae music. His stunning fusion of jazz, Afro-beat, funk and Latin with reggae sets him apart as a true pioneer, radically altering the limits and expectations of what reggae music could sound like. (...) In the late 60ies Brooks spent a brief period in Philadelphia, absorbing the music of some of his greatest influences, including Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, and Sun Ra. He was on the point of joining Sun Ra when the birth of his second daughter necessitated his return to Jamaica. Despite reggae being in full swing on the island, Cedric took up Sun Ra's challenge by moving beyond reggae's rocksteady beat by experimenting with free jazz and poetry, African robes and dancers. And so he formed his group The Light of Saba, taking leads from Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti creating a multi-cultural 'world music' way ahead of its time. His original albums sell for a lot of money - but if you have the chance get a copy of the 2003 released album The Magical Light of Saba, which collects 18 Of Cedric Brooks' most exhilarating tracks blending African and US, Cuban and other West Indian influences - calypso and funk, rhumba, jazz bebop, nyabinghi and even '70s disco - on top of a foundation of sunny, warm reggae music. For further reading check out this great article on Cedric Brooks which originally appeared in the Wax Poetics Issue 29 in 2008. Unfortunately, while writing this blog post, I got to know that Cedric 'Im' Brooks passed away on May 3rd 2013 in New York. May he rest in peace. Track #2 is Loosen Up by Chalice. A dubby reggae disco song with a slow rolling bass line and some bubbling synths. Taken from their 1981 album Blasted. On track #4 we got Bionic Encounter by Joe Gibbs & The Professionals. ''Taken from the classic 1979 Dub album Majestic Dub, ''Bionic Encounter'' is in fact an off the wall yet admirable interpretation of the Salsoul Orchestra’s 1977 smash Runaway and is not a cover of Getaway, as many people tend to think (I listened to both on loop for about an hour and I conclusively say that it is ''Runaway''). Not a dub or special ''reggae disco'' version, the track is a soft and stripped back disco song that is strongly reminiscent of the works of producer Patrick Adams (the wigged-out, stoned keyboards, heavy breathing - that sort of thing)" (via Days Are Numbers). Track #8 is the Modern Soul anthem Do This World A Favour by Beres Hammond (and produced by Joe Gibbs). Beres Hammond has a fantastic voice, and this track is one of his most soulful. With it's strong songwriting ''Do This World A Favour'' is an impassioned plea to live right. Taken from his 1979 album Just A Man. Check out the uptempo song Music Is A Positive Vibration from the same album, which I shared on the Reggae Disco Connection Part 1 in 2012. It has a four-on-the-floor beat, funky bass, horns, and strings... Instant favourite! Next we have track #9 the GLP Band's Last Funk - which some of you might know from Originals Volume Three on Claremont 56. There is hardly any info available on the GLP Band. I assume they are the studio band/backing band of Bevin Fagan, who was most well known as the lead singer and producer of one of the UK's biggest reggae acts, Matumbi. Yet in his time he was involved with and influenced by all sorts of music that was going on in South London during the seventies and early eighties, even being part of a prog rock band named 'Stonehenge' at one point in his youth. In the late 70ies he formed ''Guardian Angel'' - which was a roots reggae project with his wife (or maybe sister) Sylvia Fagan on vocals. They put out a few lovers rock type singles, among which the ''Last Funk'' stands out as the most leftfield and hard hitting of all. Serious Disco Funk. Track #10, the Guardian Angel's Last Funk is the vocal version of the previous song. It can be found on Woman At The Well, the only longplayer released by Guardian Angel in 1980. I am ending this compilation with a beautiful cover of ''Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now'' by Demos Cates. An 1980 Island Jazzy Disco rendition of Mcfadden & Whiteheads's all-time classic Ain't No Stopping Us Now...

Enjoy! DubMe