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The Numero Group's latest reissue odyssey takes us on a tour of tracks recorded in and around Freeport, in the Bahamas, between 1972 and 1976. Like that of other Caribbean Islands, the music of Freeport mixes local music with whatever was being broadcast on the radio: American soul, funk, rock and R&B, reggae, ska, salsa, Afro-beat and more. The Bahamas also experienced a huge social, political and cultural milestone during this time, declaring independence in 1973.

Freeport's potent musical stew during that time was known as Goombay. Goombay was a drum, a street festival, a local music hybrid, a cultural identity. Although it had many different flavors, it was generally fun, funky, danceable, easygoing and sexy--the sound heard on the beach, poolside at the big hotels, at backyard BBQs and blasting out of local jukeboxes.

It could be reggaefied like the Mustangs' "Watcha Gonna Do 'Bout It," bluesy and soulful like Dry Bread's "Words to My Song," or hard, funky and soulful like Frank Penn's "Gimme Some Skin." Ozzie Hall does a Goombay take on the jazz standard "Take Five," while Esquires LTD get cinematic with a version of the theme from Shaft, and Willpower deliver topical psychedelic soul with "People Won't Change."

Goombay lynchpin Jay Mitchell tops it all off with frantically funky, bass- and percussion-heavy dance classics like "Funky Fever" and the genre-defining "Goombay Bump." With 16 pages of photos and liner notes, Grand Bahama Goombay is rich by any standards, another collection from The Numero Group essential for anyone interested in filling in the hazy areas from previous eras and locales.

More by Carl Hanni

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