Various Artists: Afro-Rock, Volume One (Strut) 

The subtitle of this collection is: "A collection of rare and unreleased Afro-Beat quarried from across the continent." That aptly sums it up.

Originally released in 2001 on Kona Records, Afro-Rock features a dozen tracks by 11 acts recorded in the 1960s and '70s. They span a wide gamut of African funk and soul from that time, more "rock" in spirit than as we generally use the term, i.e., "rock music."

Hugely influential on its original release, Afro-Rock helped spur an emerging interest in several decades of African soul, funk, jazz and other music that hadn't been heard much outside of Africa. Although large volumes of vintage African dance music is now readily available, it's easy to forget that this wasn't the case until relatively recently.

"Heavy Heavy Heavy," by the Nigerian Geraldo Pino, is a key track. Zaire's Dackin Dackino's "Yuda" is 12 minutes of hypnotic tribal funk. Super Mambo 69's "Sweeper Soul" is blatantly Otis Redding-influenced, while Bokoor Band's "Onukpa Shawarpo" sounds like an Afro hippie-blues take on tropicalia.

Some of this is delightfully off the wall: "Mabala," by Yahoos, is a crazy sax- and primitive-effects-laden psychedelic number; and Jingo's "Keep on Holding On, Part 1" is some crazy-cool electro dub that sounds unlike anything I've heard before.

As vital during the second go-around as the first, Afro-Rock should please African dance music novices and adepts alike.

More by Carl Hanni


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