No To Co (in English something like ’so what’) was a folk, skiffle and psych rock combining band from Poland that had a certain funky twist in their music. The band was formed in the late 1960s by Piotr Janczerski, the former lead vocalist of the group Niebiesko-Czarni. Their first public appearance was in a television program called Po szóstej (’after six’), although they didn’t even have a name yet. They soon decided to call themselves Grupa Skifflowa No To Co (skifflowa mean skiffle music), or shortly just No To Co. They started as a band that combined traditional Polish folklore to a skiffle music but after the guitarist Jerzy Grunwald left the band in 1971 and lead singer Piotr Janczerski in the following year they started to move more and more psychedelic hard rock and at the same time lose they popularity. Skiffle is a type of music that started to popularize in New Orleans in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s music played with homemade or improvised instruments - such as combs, washing boards and pots as well as banjos, harmonicas and kazoos - and it has influences from jazz, blues, folk and roots.
The album No to co was released in USSR on national label Melodiya in 1973. I’m not sure when it was released in Poland and what name it had there since all the titles here are in Russian. The first track “Червона рута” (Chervona ruta) is a nice vocal psych track with nice drums and a groovy organ solo in the end. “По ту сторону озера” (Po tu storonu Ozera) instead is a downtempo, more simple track, but still has very funky drums and nice organ work. It’s followed by “Играй, что умеешь” (Igraĭ, chto umyeesh), a midtempo seven minute instrumental psych funk monster that starts with a short break and has several different breaks all over the songs. It reminds me strongly of certain Santana tracks from way back. Then comes the funky vocal psych number “Зеленый мосточек” (Zelenyĭ mostochek) followed by another vocal track, flute driven “Зеленая лужайка” (Zelenaya luzhaĭka). Then after the short polka track comes another two pretty decent tracks. The midtempo “Дими” (Dimi) and the uptempo beat track “Год тебе не пишу” (God tebe ne pisu)” with it’s nice organ work followed by the last track, the heavy vocal number “В боскресенье” (V voskresene).
Compared to what he has done during his long career, Ankara based Turkish composer, arranger, conductor, producer and guitarist Mustafa Özkent is still relatively unknown to the big world. He started his career as early as in 1960 in a pop group called The Teenagers. At some point in the early 1970s he formed his own orchestra, simply named Mustafa Özkent ve Orkestrası (Mustafa Özkent and Orchestra). In 1973 the first album Gençlik Ile Elele (in English Hand in hand with youth) was released and the second album Elif was released in 1975. They also released two 45s (in 1972 and 1974). During that time in 1975 – 1976 Özkent was studying in the Academie D’e music D’ixelles in Brussels. For a short period in 1976 his close friend and a fellow Turkish musician Baris Manço was also spending time in Brussels. In 1976 he was also working in a big band for the Montreal Olympic Games as an arranger and guitarist. During his career Özkent has been an in-demand session guitarist, arranger and conductor and has worked closely with numerous Turkish musicians and band including his close friends Baris Manço, Okay Temiz and Mogollar. And he has still been active throughout the 2000s.
For his new orchestra, he called in organist Umit Aksu (later of Aksu Orkestrası fame), second guitarist Cahit Oben as well as two drummers and a percussionist (not mentioned anywhere). Özkent himself played the lead guitar naturally. In 1972 the freshly founded independent label Evren had heard about Özkent and decided to give him a shot to do an fully instrumental album wit mixture of jazz, psychedelic rock, funk, traditional Anatolian sounds and new stereo effects. The album was recorded with a live take but some effects were added later.
In those days, outside the core of Western musical culture, an instrumental album with somehow psychedelic improvisations was never called “psychedelic”, more labelled as A Go-Go, often dance rhythm related item. Acid jazzrock was more often one influence for such music.
Gençlik Ile Elele is clearly the funkiest of all anatolian rock albums that ever came to my ears. With it’s heavy drumming, hard grooving organs, funky Anatolian melodies and of course the large amount of breaks it belongs to my all time favorites. The album starts with a heavy midtempo funker “Üsküdar’a Giderken. It’s followed by the massive “Burçak Tarlaları” that starts with a huge break and continues as a heavy Anatolian funk track with some traditional melodies and psychedelic electric guitar work. There’s even an another heavy break in the end. Next one is called “Dolana Dolana”. It’s an uptempo heavy funker with some electric guitar and organ melodies and a huge break in the beginning. Then comes “Karadır Kara”, another midtempo track that starts with a percussive break and the same break pops up few times during the track. Next one is again a midtempo psychedelic funk track called “Emmioğlu”, starting with a break and having the heavy electric guitars there too. The first track on side b is “Çarşamba”, again a heavy midtempo funker. Next up is one of my favorites, “Zeytinyağlı”, an uptempo breakbeat funker with electric guitar melodies and short breaks every now and then. Then comes another midtempo one called “Silifke” with sound very similar to the rest of the album. Fourth track on side b is “Lorke”, another uptempo track with a slightly different and more straight forward beat than the others. Last one is the very hectic, almost batucada sounding “Ayaş”. And for the last words, the album cover.. what’s happening in there?
It’s Midsummer and that is the time when most of us Finns flee to our summer cottages on countryside and drink our asses off and listen to old Finnish music. This year I was having an urban Midsummer at home and I was kinda inspired of all the bonfire and sausage grilling pictures people kept posting on facebook. I decided to celebrate the Summer Solstice my way and do a small mix of late 1960s and early 1970s Finnish groovy music. Since I decided to do it yesterday it’s done in a haste, I hope you still enjoy it. cheers.
Last one on my “Japan week” is an album by Zunō Keisatsu (頭脳警察, in English Brain Police), a quite well known Japanese psychedelic rock band whose radical, politically provocative lyrics caused their music being banned from the radio and caused troubles on their gigs too. Zunō Keisatsu was formed in 1970 by the Japanese psych rockers Panta (Haruo Nakamura) and Toshiaki Ishizuka. The idea for their name came from (Frank Zappa’s) Mothers of Invention song “Who are the brain police” (from Freak Out! album released in 1966). Despite their relatively short career, they released six albums and several singles before being disbanded in 1975. Their fifth album was this one, 仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro), released in 1973.
Mostly the album is pretty strict midtempo psych rock like “ウイスキー・ハイウエイ (Uisukī haiuei)” (meaning whiskey highway), “恋のいらだち (Koi no idarachi)”, very heavy title track “仮面劇のヒーローを告訴しろ (Kamen geki no hīrō o kokuso shiro)”, “奴は帰らない (Yatsu wa kaeranai)” and “麗しのジェット・ダンサー (Uruwashi no jetto dansā )”. There’s also uptempo tracks like “イエス・マン (Iesu man), “プリマドンナ (Purimadonna)”, “間違いだらけの歌 (Machigaidarakeno uta)” and “まるでランボー (Marude ranbō)”. It’s hard to say what they’re singing about in the latter one, but at least I recognize they mention Voltaire, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Sebastian Bach, Marie Curie and Jeanne D’arc. Nice and catchy track I have to say. The standout track however - and propably the reason why non psych rock loving people want this album - is a midtempo funky rock song called “ハイエナ (Haiena)”. It starts with a nice break and has some rough but catchy lyrics. There also appears to be two acoustic guitar driven tracks included, “ホ短調の間奏曲 (Ho tanchō no kansō kyoku)” and “愛なき日々 (Ai naki hibi)”. I’m actually not a very big fan of psych rock, or rock in general, so basically this album was bought for the break only. It just appeared to be a pretty good album after several spins.
Right after his first full length, a “live” album called Kirka keikalla, was released this second album of Kiril “Kirka” Babitzin simply called Kirka. It was an album of studio recordings but it wasn’t actually an studio album. It was a compilation of his earlier recordings that were originally released as 45s between 1967 and 1969. So if you’re not a format purist and accept only these quite scarce 45s, this is your choice to get the good ones. The sound quality of this album is pretty ok compared to some other Scandia releases from the same period.
The albums starts with the breakthrough song of Kirka career, “Hetki lyö”, originally released in 1967. It’s a cover of “Beat the clock”, written by Richard Gottehrer and Jonathan Stroll and released by the US pop rock group The McCoys in 1967. It’s more rock and at the same time more funk than the original and somehow always gets people moving whenever it’s playing. Next one is a funky country track “Okolona river bottom band”, a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s original from 1968. “Kellon soiton kuulla saan” (literally “I can hear the bell toll”) is a cover of “No help from me”, the b-side track from the biggest selling hit “Green tambourine” of the US psychedelic pop rock band The Lemon Pipers, written by their headman, Ivan Browne. Originally it was released in 1967, Kirka recorded this almost the same sounding version a year later. Next to mention is “Pitkän tien pää” (literally “End of the long road”). A pretty good cover of the 1969 original “Spinning wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears. it has hard drums, nice horns and all, but sadly no break. There’s however two tracks over the others on this one. “Yksinäisyys kolkuttaa” (literally “loneliness is knocking”), a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Happy” from 1969, written by Lee Hazlewood. It’s a funky uptempo groover and in my opinion, it’s even better than the original. The wailing organ solo of Esko Linnavalli in the middle of the song is really amazing and reminds me of the Alan Hawkshaw stuff. In this album is also included four songs from the Jörn Donner movie 69, “Alku kaiken kauniin”, “Igor”, “Mr. wonderful” and “Voin haaveesi täyttää”.
In an interview Kirka tells that Jörn Donner was making a movie at that time and needed the music for it. So he rushed into the Scandia office and told that he needed a singer, a good one, and he knew Scandia had one. So Donner picked up Kirka to sing the soundtrack songs that were first released on a four track 45 ep and later on Kirka’s self titled debut studio album. Kirka also tells that Donner already had in mind some songs made by Claes af Geijerstam that were already recorded in Sweden and he wanted Kirka to sing them in Finnish.
So Kirka did sing his raw vocals to these four tracks and the rest is history. Included in these four songs is the toughest track on the album, an uptempo funk track called “Igor”. It starts with an open break and soon the bass joins in. In the middle there’s a solo that sounds much like sitar and therefore “Igor” has been labeled widely as a psychedelic sitar funk track. But it’s actually not a sitar, it’a a regular guitar with really loose strings and they just made it sound like a sitar. Innovative huh? Jörn Donner also made an international release of his movie and he wanted an international version of the soundtrack too. So he took the same four soundtrack songs sung this time in English by the Swedish rock singer Tommy Körberg. And there was included of course “Igor the dog”. But that’s another story and I’ll tell you about it later. Nowadays Kirka album is quite hard to find and not that cheap. But it’s still an original and beats easily those youtube ripped mp3’s people seem to be playing in bboy jams these days.
Türkü, literally “of the Turk”, is a name given to Turkish folk songs as opposed to şarkı. In contemporary usage, the meanings of the words türkü and şarkı have shifted: Türkü refers to folk songs originated from music traditions within Turkey whereas şarkı refers to all other songs, including foreign music.
1941 born Erkin Koray is a very well-known figure in the Turkish music. Actually there’s no one like him in the history of Turkey’s rock scene and he is widely recognised as the first musician ever to play a rock n’ roll concert in Turkey. That happened in 1957 by the way, when his high school band played covers of Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. He was also one of Turkey’s very first electric guitarists, recording what is generally recognised as being the first rock’n’roll record ever released in Turkey. And, he is also acknowledged to be one of the inventors of the so called anatolian rock, a genre mixing traditional Turkish sounds with western rock and funk music. Therefore he has well earned his nickname Baba Erkin - that means of course Father Erkin - as the godfather of Turkish rock.
Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s he released a whole bunch of 7″ singles, but his first long play was released as late as 1973. And it wasn’t even a pure LP on it’s true meaning, but kind of a compilation of his single recordings from 1967 to 1973. In 1974 Koray changed label from Istanbul Records to Doğan Records and then he was finally able to present his true self in music. In a form that was contemporary, under his control and unrestricted by the short durations of singles. And what he brought up is widely considered to be his best album - the second LP called Elektronik türküler (Electric folk songs). On the album, there’s three original compositions of Koray, and as the title recounts, the remaining five tracks are contemporary versions of Anatolian folk songs from the past. And on this album Koray have his tight combo on fire. Along Baba Erkin himself on guitars, bağlama, piano and organ, there’s Ahmet Güvenç on bass and Sedat Avcı on drums and percussion. The additional session musicians Faruk Tekbilek on bağlama and kalem and Eyüp Duran on bongos rounded out the trio.
The album starts with a traditional Anatolian ballad “Karli daglar” (Snowy mountains), a midtempo groover with catchy vocals, nice funky rhythms and the hypnotic bağlama work of Faruk Teklebik. Next up is an instrumental written by Koray, called “Sir”. It starts with a telephone ringing before turning into a belly dance’ish track. In the middle Koray let’s loose his psychedelic guitar on a solo and then the track comes back in. Then comes an acoustic rework of a 17th century folk song called “Hele ya” (Especially), a six and half minute track with a strong Anatolian feel. A really short (one and half minutes) instrumental track “Korkulu rüya” (Nightmare) is a really haunting drumless track with mean organs and weird panting in the end. Last on on side A is “Yalnızlar rıhtımı” (Waterfront of the lonely ones), a very western sounding groover with a really tight rhythm, some nice guitar work in the middle, very hypnotic vocals and Koray’s guitar solo in the end.
The first one on side B is an acoustic guitar driven ballad, “Cemalim” (My Cemal), written by the early 20th century folk composer Urguplu Refik Basaran. It’s a nice little groover based on Koray’s acoustic guitar work, with some fuzz guitar overdubbed in places and Ayzer Danga on drums. There’s a psychedelic guitar solo in the middle too. In their live performances they didn’t act as wild as you can imagine. They seem rather being quite stoned as it’s shown in their live video on “Cemalim”…
Next one is a strong fuzz guitar driven proto-metal instrumental “Inat” (obstinacy) that starts really promising but never seem to really start before it fades away after two minutes. The last one - and my personal favorite on this album - is the nine minute psychedelic monster simply called “Türkü” featuring the lyrics based on the poems of the well known early 20th century poet Nâzım Hikmet. With the main theme played with bağlama by Erkin Koray, the snake charming licks of Ahmet Tekbilek’s kalem (a double reed Turkish wind instrument) and the stoned sounding drumming of Sedat Avcı makes it one helluva song. Great album indeed as a whole.
First of all, this record is a classic with a capital c. nobody doubts it. I think there is not much people who hasn’t heard anything from this album nor anything it has spawned. wittingly or unwittingly. It basically started the whole hip hop movement and still remains as one of the most played record throughout the hip hop community. Most of the people know the record but the story behind it isn’t that widely known.
It all starts with a b-class horror comedy movie called The thing with two heads. It’s a movie about a dying redneck racist who wants his head to be pllaced into a healthy body so he can go on with his life. After things evolving really quickly, the only remaining option to save him is to place his head into a body of a black inmate. The things will never be the same again as the body with a white and a black head start it’s partly hilarious adventure. During the time of the movie a guy named Michael Viner (pronounced Vee-ner) was in charge of Pride, a subsidiary of MGM records. Viner used to work for MGM, but he was so effective and produced so many hit records, that they gave him an own label, Pride. He was given a task to oversee the soundtrack for the upcoming movie The thing with two heads. He did put there the cream of Pride’s hottest acts, such as The Sylvers, Billy Butler, Ollie Nightingale, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Butler, but it seemed to be lacking something. The intelligentsia at MGM decided to put one more car chase to the movie and they needed music for that. And that was a task for mr. Viner. He then started to gather studio musicians for the session where the remaining songs were supposed to be recorded. Viner rounded up his favorite session musicians and they cut two songs. “Bongo rock ‘72″ and “Bongolia”. They also needed a name for the band so they made it The Incredible Bongo Band. MGM liked the two chase anthem tracks so much that they paired them up to a single release. To everybody’s surprise, it sold furiously. After a while MGM even put extra money in and printed a photo of the band as a cover of the single, but as soon as people saw the pic with white guys smiling there, the sales decreased dramatically. So they removed the pic, returned to plain sleeves and it started to sell again. The single sold eventually over two million copies and spawned a demand for a full length album. A filler became an entity.
Los Angeles based Viner made a strange decicion to pack his stuff and session musicians and go to Canada to cut the album. Eventually the reason was the money. Canada was way cheaper than the States so it was worth flying there to record than to stay in L.A. They arrived at CanBase studios in Vancouver in 1972 and started to bang. After few days of hard work of him, his studio group and some additional Canadian musicians, the album was ready. It was released next year with a reflective silver sleeve made with foil. It sold pretty well, but not even close to the sales of the single. The follow-up, The return of the Incredible bongo band, was released in 1974 and it sold poorly. Thus ended the story of the band. But back to the Bongo rock. Who were the infamous session musicians Michael Viner chose to his mission?
On drums was an L.A. player Jim Gordon (born James Beck Gordon) - once considered as one of the greatest rock drummers in the world. He got his skills under Phil Spector and played also on sessions for the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. During the 1970s he backed The Byrds, Eric Clapton, George HarrisonMerle Haggard, The Monkees, John Lennon, Minnie Riperton and countless others. He was a member of the group Derek and the Dominoes (along with Eric Clapton) and he co-wrote their big hit “Layla”. in 1970s Gordon toured as the drummer of Frank Zappa and what’s better, he was the drummer for Animal in the first Puppet movie. Gordon’s faith was however the drugs. In the late 1970s he flipped and started to hear voices inside his head. His purgatory finally ended in 1983 after several visits to mental hospital. He killed his mother with a knife and a hammer and was sentenced for life from a second degree murder. Currently he is imprisoned in State Medical Corrections Facility in Vacaville, CA and he is still collecting royalties for “Layla”. Steve Douglas (born Steven Douglas Kreisman) played saxophone. He was a pretty popular session musician and worked with many of the big names - Eric Clapton, Beach Boys, Keith Moon, Nilsson, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Ramones, Aretha Franklin and the king himself, Elvis Presley to name a few. During the time of Bongo rock -sessions, he was living and working in Vancouver. Douglas lived and literally died as a session musician. During a Ry Cooder session in 1993 he collapsed and died due to a heart failure. On guitar was Mike Deasy, also a very popular session musician in L.A. who was used by everybody from Billy Joel and 5th Dimension to Cannonball Adderley and Solomon Burke. He got his practice in same sessions that Jim Gordon did, with the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. Born in the Bahamas, percussionist King Errisson (born Errisson Pallman Johnson) was also a top class session musician and his merit list contains sessions with a wide range of artists, including Bobbi Humphrey, Lenny Williams, Quincy Jones, Z.Z. Hill, The Four Tops, Cannonball Adderly among many many others. Remember the voodoo conga player in James Bond movie Thunderball? That was Errisson. Along drummer Jim Gordon, King Errisson played the key part in The Incredible Bongo Band. During the 1970s he was propably the best conga players in the world. Motown founder Berry Gordy even referred to him as “the unsung hero of Motown” for his contribution to Motown recordings. The other percussionist Michael Viner recalls from the sessions was L.A. based session musician Bobbye Hall. There was also some Canadian session musicians involved, most likely percussionists, but nobody remembers who they were. Michael Viner himself played on the background pretty much what he could get into his hands, from cymbals to drums and percussion. Arrangements on this album were made solely by Perry Botkin Jr.
And what about the music itself? As one can conclude from the name of the band, it is indeed very much percussion driven, and very much incredible. With Dick Dale‘ish surf guitars, tight percussion, heavy drumming and catchy horns it’s a mix of styles that is unique among the funky records throughout the history. First track, “Let there be drums” was originally a Billboard top 100 hit by Sandy Nelson, released in 1961. It was a guitar/drums-duet and it’s a pretty good example of early surf rock. The Bongo Band version has also quite banging surf rock drums with really nice backing with percussions and a catchy psychedelic surf guitar riff. And of course the break. Kind of laid back song “Last bongo in Belgium” sounds almost like they were trying to generate the mandatory ballad that appeared in almost every album that time. It follows the line of the album with it’s surf guitars and quite heavy drum-percussion beats having also some additional horn melodies. I’m not sure if they tried to resemble “Last tango in Paris” with the name but it’s however quite weird - at least for guys from L.A.. Needless to say, there’s a long phased drum-percussion break too. “Dueling bongos” is a sort of a version of “Dueling banjos”, an instrumental banjo composition from 1955 by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. It’s an accelerating three minute bongo frenzy - or should I call it a bongo mayhem. “Raunchy ‘73″ is a cover of Bill Justis‘ US chart hit “Raunchy” from 1959. It’s a nice (again) updated percussion driven version with no particular break, but really strong uptempo beat and catchy surf guitar melodies. Another updated cover is the one from The thing with two heads, “Bongo rock ‘73″. It was originally a top 40 hit recorded by Preston Epps back in 1959, but Bongo Band made it a heavier, more psychedelic and more banging. Uptempo beat, really catchy horn riffs and the break, what more do you need? The other one from the previously mentioned soundtrack is “Bongolia”, again a very heavy percussive track with psychedelic surf guitars, horn melodies and a long percussion break. In other words very similar to the other uptempo tracks on the album. Then there’s “In-a-gadda-da-vida”. A classic song on psychedelic rock scene. Original was a seventeen minute psych monster that was recorded by the legendary Iron Butterfly in 1968. Originally the title was supposed to be “In the garden of Eden” but the singer Doug Ingle was so drunk or high on lsd - or both - that “In-a-gadda-da-vida” was the only thing he could mumble. Therefore the title stuck and the song has been covered several times. Bongo Band’s version starts with a haunting melody and then turns into a banging midtempo track that follows the melodies of the original but is otherwise way more heavier on drums. There’s also a long, one and half minute break in the middle. Last but definitely not least, there’s the most important, and the most played track of the record, “Apache”. Originally first recorded by UK guitarist Bert Weedon in the spring of 1960, but as his single release was delayed several months, the version by the very well known UK surf rock band The Shadows was the first release of the song. The track was however written by songwriter Jerry Lordan way earlier and he used to play it on gigs with his ukulele. That’s where The Shadows spotted the song and made it a hit. It was a hit only in UK until 1961 when Danish jazz guitarist Jørgen Ingmann hit US charts with his version. Originally it’s a western movie themed song inspired heavily by the 1954 movie Apache (starring Burt Lancaster). Bongo Band’s version is totally different. It gets a point-blank start with heavy percussion with tight drumming before the riff joins in. The melodies are a true classic, from the laid back version of Jerry Lordan to this uptempo percussion frenzy of Bongo Band they have remained the same. But here everything else is different. And then there’s the break. A one and half minute combination of drums and percussion that has been one of the most re-used drumbreak in the history along James Brown’s “Funky drummer” and The Winstons‘ “Amen”. Short after the release of Bongo rock, a New York dj called Kool Herc discovered it and started to play it heavily. It was the first record he got doubles of and started to spin the doubles. In that magical night when he first played doubles of “Bongo rock” and “Apache” using only the break - in 1974 or 1975 Herc recalls - basically two things happened. First, people went crazy on the dancefloor and secondly, hip hop was born.
Yugoslavian composer, arranger and band leader Angelo Vlatković did a lot of writing and arrangements during his active years in Yugoslavian music scene. He also had a group of his own called ABC. It was called Kvintet A-B-C first, but then the name evolved and several different forms appear depending on the country of release. In this self-titled album from 1975 the band was called Ansambl Angela Vlatkovića and Vokāli-instrumentāls ansamblis Angelo Vlatkovića, the latter being the Latvian form of writing. Why Latvian? The Russian national record company Мелодия (Melodija) had at least seven different manufacturing plants all over the huge country and all of those released different cover and label designs and used different languages. This one was pressed in Latvian factory, so the song titles and credits are written in Russian and in Latvian. There’s also different cover versions of this album pressed in other factories.
Musically this album follows quite well the trend that was prevailing that time. It’s full of cover songs from both Eastern bloc and the west. Only one song is an own composition by Vlatković, the really mellow and jazzy, flute driven instrumental groover “Za Tebe”. Among the western covers are Abba’s “Waterloo”, Demis Roussos‘ “Goodbye my love” and Gianni Nazzaro’s “Quanto è bella lei”. These are all quite dull nevertheless. There’s good ones included too of course. The cover of The Sweet’s “Poppa Joe” starts with a break and continues as a song very similar to the original. Uptempo cover of Junior Campbell’s “Hallelujah freedom” is a good one too with a break at the start and nice uptempo beats all over with some occasional organ work. Then there’s cover of Doobie Brothers‘ classic “Long train running”, a very interesting rockish breakbeat one, but not that banging as I hoped. On top of the cake there’s two local songs that are really funky and banging. Uptempo instrumental funk track “Snovi” (Dream) and an uptempo vocal number “Ima Vremena” (There are times) with a break in the middle and all. Although it’s hard to say if these are covers or own compositions as there’s no band members mentioned on the cover they’re still pretty darn tight. Nice record from the former Yugoslavia.
Beat and rhythm n’ blues group I pyranas was originally from France but spent most of it’s active time in Italy. When Miami born singer Rocky Roberts (who had moved to Italy to perform) separated from his backing band The airedales (who continued with their bassist Wess a the new leader), he contacted the French group Les pyranas to be his new band. Les pyranas had already released few 45s on a French label Barclay and after request from Rocky, they moved to Italy to record and perform under a name I pyranas. Together with Rocky Roberts they did total three 45s in Italy and France, and continued as an instrumental group. In 1969 their line-up consisted of André Laidli (trumpet), Albert Verrecchia (keyboards), Paul Nicolas (saxophone), André Ceccarelli (drums), Jean Claude Chavanat (guitar), Jean Costa (trombone), Christian Guisien (trombone) and Tony Bonfils (bass).
Their second album Motivi di ieri, successi di oggi was released in 1969 on an Italian RCA sublabel ARC, in a same year as their debut album Tanti successi per I pyranas. Musically they follow the same style as in their debut. Songs vary from bluesy r’n'b and soul to melancholic beat and uptempo funk and it’s all instrumental. There’s mellow downtempo groovers like “Un’ora sola ti vorrei”, there’s very bluesy stuff and then there’s uptempo beat-funk. The midtempo “Portami tante rose” sounds very much of those Italian soundtrack sounds from the same period with a slight easy listening feel. “Angeli negri” is an uptempo funky beat track with very melancholic horn melodies and it’s feelings are almost Finnish’ish. It reminds me of those funkier ones from Danish-Finnish trumpeter Jörgen Petersen. “Parlami d’amore mariu’” is also an uptempo track similar to “Angeli negri” but with more pace and less melancholy. The best track here is “Amor amor amor”, a bboy friendly funky breakbeat track with catchy horn stabs, nice organ and some percussion work.
AMIGA was a state owned label of former DDR that had the monopoly on record production. Asi it was so in every communist state back then. They released 2200 albums and around 5000 singles. Seems that the poor and highly controlled communist state produced more imaginative and groovy music than the capitalistic Germany in the west. Or that’s how I feel about it, since there’s much more good music in my shelf from the east than the west.
Theodore Schumann’s professional musical career begun in the 1950s when he started his own jazz quartet. From 1961 to mid 1970s was was a bandleader of Theo Schuman combo, a group that was concentrating on pop music - both original compositions and covers. Their self titled debut album was released in 1969 and the band soon gained a lot of popularity and radio play. Almost all the songs on this first album were original compositions of Theo Schumann and they varied from surf rock and rock n’ roll to beat and even funk. Besides the quite dull late 1960s rock there’s however two interesting songs on this album. The midtempo funky “Hackepeter” and the breakbeat track “Derby”. For these two songs only Theo Schumann combo album is worth getting.