Various – Afro-Tropical Soundz Vol.1 review

Since 2002, the Soundway label has established itself as a haven for rediscovered funk, rock and disco from around the world. Label boss Miles Cleret has now compiled a personal collection of some highlights so far – the songs that make up Afro-Tropical Soundz Vol.1 – and it’s a first-class trip around various under-appreciated sounds and styles.

Colombian salsa is represented for example by Fruko y sus Tesos, a 70s phenomenon that managed to export their sound briefly beyond their native shores. “A La Memoria Del Muerto” gets pulled out of the crates by Cleret here and it still sparkles today in all its cowbell-driven glory. Elsewhere, the brassy Afrobeat of Ghanaian Ebo Taylor’s “Heaven” will have new listeners riveted to its tight grooves and awesome sax solo’s. Cumbia fans will also enjoy the similarly huge brass on Lito Barrientos y su Orquestra’s “Cumbia En Do Menor”. Anchored down to a steady kick drum, the percussion taps away in a typical cumbia pattern while a clarinet takes the solo. Biguine also gets a look in on “Jet Beguine” by Haiti’s Les Loups Noirs – done at a rollicking, breakneck speed with a tropical organ keeping rhythm in the background. Nigerian band Action 13 also shine with the loose Afro-funk of “More Bread To The People” – again underpinned by organs and chanking wah-wah’d guitars with an infectious chanted chorus that’ll stick in the craw for days. The delights of Soundway’s years of excavating and digging have clearly paid off – this is a very special collection with eleven solid-gold nuggets from around the world ready to be enjoyed.

Review: Oliver Keens