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Various – Soundway Records presents Colombia: The Golden Age of Discos Fuentes review

A truly great collection put together by the wise folk at Soundway, this package couldn’t be a better primer for a label known as “the Motown of Columbia”. While Discos Fuentes was started in 1934, carrying the honour of being Columbia’s first record label, it really hit its stride from the ’60s onward. By then the African influences the label had brought to mainstream attention were feeding into the new breed of musicians, and you can hear it leaking across the tracks here. Distinctly native genres like cumbia are represented handsomely here by Lito Barrientos Y Su Orquestra’s “Cumbia En Do Menor” for example, which boasts a trad-jazz clarinet solo that warms the cockles of your heart.

Climaco Sarmiento Y Su Orquestra’s “La Pata Y El Pato” also boasts a slow cumbia rhythm set alive with a female vocal. Other genres like salsa get a look in too – check out Michi Sarmiento Y Sus Bravos’s “Hong Kong” – as well as the balladeering vocal on Fruko Y Sus Tesos’ “Al La Memoria Del Muerto”. Those searching for slightly camp throwbacks (in line with DF’s often hilariously kitsch sleeve art) should head straight for “Tifit Hayed” by Wganda Kenya, while Afrobeat fans will love the glossy guitar textures on Afrosound’s “Pacifico”.

While other Discos Fuentes compilations have been done in the past, none appeal quite as much to contemporary ears. The grit and analogue goodness is captured here perfectly and it is to Soundway’s credit that they’ve unearthed a collection so rare and so unique.

Review: Oliver Keens