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In Belize, they call it a boil up: If it's food, toss everything into a pot and "boil it up"; if it's music, do the same. Belize's collective musical boil-up is a sun-drenched Caribbean mixture of R&B, reggae, funk and calypso, all overlaid with the long shadow of classic American soul music.

Saved for posterity by the savvy folks at The Numero Group, Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up collects 16 ultra-choice tracks from 1965 to 1977, every one a winner. The godfather of Belizean music was Lord Rhaburn, who represents with old-school reggae ("More Love Reggae"), sophisticated disco/funk ("Disco Connection"), a Caribbean R&B version of "Don't Fight It" and big-beat R&B blues with "Boogaloo a la Chuck." The Professionals bring stirring deep soul ("Part of Being With You"), a calypso-ska version of the O'Jays' "Back Stabbers" and a terrific take on "Theme From the Godfather" punched up with mariachi trumpets, tremolo guitar and creep-show organ. "Rated G" by The Web is as perfect a slice of ska-funk that you'll ever find; The Harmonettes' reggaefied cover of the disco classic "Shame Shame Shame" is at least as danceable as the original, and the Soul Creations' "Funky Jive, Part 1" more than lives up to its title.

The mood is unabashedly buoyant and uplifting throughout; this is music made for dancing, after all. As sunny as the country it comes from, Belize City Boil Up goes from simmer to boil and back again, as rich and tasty as its culinary namesake.

More by Carl Hanni

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