Boogie Breakdown: South African Synth Disco – 1980 to 1984

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South Africa is home to a dizzying variety of musical genres and traditions, including some that look directly to American sounds for inspiration. In the late 70s and early 80s, many of the country’s best young musicians were guided by funk. All over the world, disco was growing harder and more electronic, with new synthesizers entering the market every month. The southern tip of Africa was no exception.

Global music industry geo-politics, however, aided by the country’s pariah status and a UN-sanctioned cultural boycott, prevented the vast majority of this music from ever being heard outside the country, nor ever being released on CD or digitally. Until now.

Compiled by COS head honcho Deano Sounds in collaboration with Johannesburg-based DJ Okapi from the Afro-Synth blog and record store, Boogie Breakdown serves up two tracks apiece from six seminal acts from the era – Harari, The Cannibals, Neville Nash, Benjamin Ball, Don Laka and Al Etto – to offer a glimpse into this long-forgotten era in African music history.

A period of true innovation and new possibilities – as well as isolation and political instability – the early 80s in South Africa saw the emergence of numerous talented, innovative artists, whose efforts soon gave rise to the big-selling ‘bubblegum’ sound of the mid-80s. As the decade wore on, this sound shed its American roots and took on more local influences, becoming ever more electronic and less funky, to become the kwaito of the 90s and ultimately the house music of today. It all started with the arrival of synthesizers and the creativity of producers and artists featured on this compilation – pioneers of a new sound before it became established and marketable – global in its appeal, yet rooted in Africa. Coming out on September 23rd you can pre-order here.

Cannibals – Hey Tonight

 

Cannibals – We Keep On Keeping On

 

Harari – Party

 

Harari – Good Vibes

 

Don Laka – I Wanna Be Myself

 

Don Laka – Let’s Move the Night

 

Neville Nash – Breakdown

 

Neville Nash – Perfect Love

 

Benjamin Ball – Flash A Flashlight

 

Benjamin Ball – I Just Keep Dancing

 

Al Etto – You’ve Got the Love

 

Al Etto – Hold Onto Love

 

M. Wylde – Bring Me Down

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Back in 2008 when Cultures of Soul Records was just a twinkle in our eyes, Deano Sounds befriended an interesting cat named M. Wylde.  A few years earlier the mysterious M. Wylde had created a project of music entitled Capsule. The music had an icy soulfulness to it that spoke of heartbreak and isolation, the sound of which was like nothing we’d heard. After losing touch for 7 years we finally tracked him down and hatched our plan to release this music to the world. The first music being released from the material is the single “Bring Me Down” with remixes by Tuff City Kids and Isaac Galvez. Here are some words from the artist myself on the context of when the music was created.

This music was recorded a long time ago – in a different era, a time when George W. Bush led America, when mass shootings such as Virginia Tech were shocking and rare, when Obama was just a hopeful glimmer on the horizon and when, for me, I was lost. This album was pure escapism. Not the cheery escapism of Rupert Holmes’ “Escape,” maybe, but escapism none the less. It’s an album about a single man in space. Alone, floating above the blue pin prick of earth. No hope for connection, but also, nothing to fear. 

Obama has come, and, now, nearly gone. Progress has been made. Yet, escapism is as necessary now as it was when this album was recorded, and as it will ever be. I hope that this naive music may be in a way some sort of safe place for anyone who listens to it. A place to be alone, a place to block out the fears of modern life. 
 
This album was recorded, performed, and mixed entirely alone by an amateur musician. Every instrument, every vocal harmony, every accident and blemish the authors own. The mix may have benefitted from  the ear of a real professional – likewise the music may have been improved by the collaboration of seasoned musicians. But perhaps it may have become less personal in the process. 
 
I have to acknowledge influences on this music. The mournful swirl of Arthur Verocai, the pulsing rhythms of Giorgio Moroder, the soulful chords of Roy Ayers, and mostly, the influence of another isolated space man – Sly Stone. 
 
 I hope this music, released a decade after its creation, will resonate with people. This is lonely music. I hope it can be a friend to the lonely. 
 
M. Wylde 

July, 2016

You can order on Bandcamp here.

Benjamin Ball – Flash A Flashlight 12″ Pre-order

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Benjamin Ball’s “Flash A Flashlight” is the first preview of the next Cultures of Soul compilation, Boogie Breakdown -South African Disco 1980 to 1984. WIth the help of DJ Okapi, Cultures of Soul has tracked down many of the great synth boogie artists of the 80s in South Africa including Benjamin Ball, Don Laka, Al Etto, Neville Nash, Harari, and many others.

Benjamin Ball’s “Flash A Flashlight” came out just after Brenda & The Big Dudes’ massive hit “Weekend.” Ball’s unique reggae-tinged synth boogie was nearly as big and became the second bubble gum anthem of the era.

Highly respected house DJ/producer and co-founder of the Running Back label, Gerd Janson gives us two nice edits of “Flash A Flashlight.” Gerd provides two funked up rerubs of the track, one with vocals and one without. Licensed directly from the artist and housed in a custom disco sleeve these edits won’t be available on the compilation. Coming out on August 5th pre-order here!

Tracklisting:

Side A – Flash A Flashlight (Original Mix)

Side B – Flash A Flashlight (Gerd Janson Vocal Edit)
Flash A Flashlight (Gerd Janson Dub Edit)

C.S. Crew’s Funky Pack and Wake Up You!

 

You’ve probably been living under a rock if you haven’t heard about these two great companion piece book and record sets about the Nigerian Funk Rock period right after the Biafran War. Released on Now Again Records and researched and written by Uchenna Ikonne, Wake Up You Volumes 1 and 2 really do live up to the hype!

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We also released a Nigerian Funk Rock record from this period with the help of Uchenna back in 2013. There are still copies left of the excellent C.S.Crew’s Funky Pack with bonus tracks from Youth’s of the Universe. Uchenna wrote a great narrative about this record and it’s creators. You can pick up your copy at our store here. And you also can buy Wake Up You Volumes 1 and 2 here.

Below we leave you with an excellent video about this project.

Boogie Breakdown – South African Disco from 1980 to 1984

 

We’ve been working for the past two years with this gentleman, DJ Okapi on a compilation of South African Disco, Boogie, and Afro Synth. We’re very excited to say it will be coming out this summer! Here’s the complete tracklisting and pre-order details will be coming soon.

  1. Cannibals – Hey Tonight
  2. Cannibals – We Keep On Keeping On
  3. Harari – Party
  4. Harari – Good Vibes
  5. Don Laka – I Wanna Be Myself
  6. Don Laka – Let’s Move the Night
  7. Neville Nash – Breakdown
  8. Neville Nash – Perfect Love
  9. Benjamin Ball – Flash A Flashlight
  10. Benjamin Ball – I Just Keep Dancing
  11. Al Etto – You’ve Got the Love
  12. Al Etto – Hold On to Love

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As a preview for this compilation we are putting out a 12″ of Benjamin Ball’s Flash A Flashlight with edits by Gerd Janson. Pre-orders will be available in our shop soon!

Evans Pyramid – Never Gonna Leave You 12″

 

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The mysterious Evans Pyramid has garnered acclaim from record collectors and DJs alike all over the world including Floating Points, Gilles Peterson, DJ Kon, Soul Clap, Dimitri from Paris, and many others. Deano Sounds tracked down the man behind Evans Pyramid, Andre Evans back in 2012.

“Never Gonna Leave You” is a sublime disco masterpiece inspired by an emotional break up, wine, and Marvin Gaye. “Andre was able to achieve an undeniably unique sound by overdubbing rhythmic guitar parts while using the technique of muting guitar strings.” The B side “Dip Drop” is a left field party jam for the dancefloor with all the bells and whistles. Cultures of Soul Records is proud to officially reissue the Evans Pyramid 12″ housed in a custom full color disco sleeve. Coming out on July 22nd you can preo-order here.

DJs Bosq + Uchenna Ikonne + Deano Sounds at Together Boston

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We were invited back again to DJ at this year’s Together Boston. This year we’re honored to share the bill with fellow Boston DJs – Uchenna Ikonne and Bosq! Bosq is the Do Your Thing resident and a producer putting out original Afro/Latin/Disco/Funk records on Ubiquity Records, Soul Clap Records & Fania Records among others. Check out his excellent long player – Celestial Strut!

Uchenna Ikonne is a Nigerian born music historian / record collector & DJ with an unparalleled knowledge of the finest Afro Disco and Boogie / Afro Funk / Afro Beat and the man behind the great “Brand New Wayo” compilation. He also worked with Luaka Bop in putting together the hugely successful William Oyneabor retrospective and most recently contributed to Now Again Records’ Wake Up You Nigerian Rock compilations.

Event Details:

Do Your Thing!
Together Boston Edition
DJs Bosq, Uchenna Ikonne, and Deano Sounds

Friday May 20th at Zuzu
Doors at 10pm
474 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

The Boston Creative Jazz Scene – Live May 1st

 

 

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We have a very special event coming up on May 1st! In conjunction with ArtWeek and JazzWeek in Boston we are hosting a live performance and celebration by some of the musicians featured in our Boston Creative Jazz Scene Book + Album.

The Boston Creative Jazz Scene, Then and Now

Piano Craft Gallery (http://pianocraftgallery.org/)

793 Tremont St, Boston MA

May 1

7 – 9 PM

Donations

The wild and woolly free jazz era of the 1970s comes to life at an event inspired by the highly praised album produced by Cultures of Soul Records with a historical essay by musician Mark Harvey, who was there through it all. The essay chronicles prominent members of the scene – including Syd Smart, Leonard Brown, John Voigt, Jon Damian, Tom Plsek, Lowell Davidson, Stan Strickland, Stanton Davis, Phill Musra, Baird Hersey, and Jamyll Jones – and influential events like the inaugural John Coltrane Memorial Concert.

Don’t miss this opportunity to talk with some of the musicians featured on the album – Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Mark Harvey – and listen as these veteran experimenters and some of the most intrepid adventurers among today’s generation of improvisers create great music.

The Piano Craft Gallery is located in Boston’s South End, a neighborhood important for a wide spectrum of  jazz musicians over many decades.   Donations are welcome to support the ongoing work of the Gallery.

 

Pre-Order – Greg Belson’s Divine Disco

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Cultures of Soul Records is proud to present a brand new compilation curated and researched by Gospel Soul music authoritarian Greg Belson. Greg Belson’s Divine Disco – American Gospel Disco 1974 to 1984 is a snapshot in time encapsulating the raw power of a spiritual performance, set to the pulsating 4/4 rhythms that were in vogue on the dance floors of the day.

This compilation focuses on a breed of Gospel performers that were forward-thinking enough to explore a funkier style; a powerful message with which a younger audience could identify. Music that could stir their mind, body and soul…..while stimulating their senses with a basic need to dance!

Labels like Savoy played a key part in identifying artists that fit nicely into this brand new movement….performers like Shirley Finney and The Gospelaires, both of whom were established within the scene but carried the ‘Disco’ torch brightly with their tunes, are featured here. Divine Disco also paints a picture of the lesser known acts that privately released their message to the hopeful masses, such as the Gospel Ambassadors and the Inspirational Souls, whose recording budgets would have been significantly less than any ‘major’ label. As proven here, they had no less of an impact to the listener.

Other tracks on this compilation such as Betty Griffin’s “Free Spirit” have become big club spins for the likes of the NYC Downlow and Horse Meat Disco crews. Also included here are recently discovered tunes like the Masters of Music’s “Trouble Don’t Last Always” as well as a future classic by The Testimonial Singers, which features several young members of the Winans Family. We’ve got you covered too for those more modern soul, boogiefied moments with rarities from Delores Fuller, Herman Harris and two offerings from the killer LP released by Enlightment.

-Greg Belson

Coming out on CD and 2LP on July 8th you can pre-order here.

  1. Enlightment – Faith Is the Key

     

  2. Delores Fuller – One More Chance Lord

     

  3. Gospel Ambassadors – What Kind of Man Is This

     

  4. Enlightment – What’s Happening People

     

  5. Betty Griffin – Free Spirit

     

  6. The Inspirational Souls – Jesus Is Going Away (But He’s Coming Back Again)

     

  7. Gospel Ambassadors – Thank You Jesus

     

  8. Gloria Griffin – You

     

  9. Masters of Music – Trouble Don’t Last Always

     

  10. The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio – No Where To Run

     

  11. Shirley Finney – Give Your Best To The Master

     

  12. The Testimonial Singers – No Greater Love

     

  13. Herman Harris & the Voices of Faith, Hope & Love – Give Yourself to Jesus
  1. Gospel Ambassadors – Thank You, Jesus (Steve Cobby Remix)
  2. Masters of Music – Trouble Don’t Last Always (Rahaan Edit)

Stop the Presses – The Boston Creative Jazz Scene

The Boston Creative Jazz Scene has been in stores for a little while now and we’ve received a wave of great reviews. You can pick up your book and CD or 2LP package here. You can read the reviews below.

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Also a few other quotes from other reviews that have come in:

The music on the “Creative Jazz” set showcases a wide variety of styles, from the Mark Harvey Group’s near-silences and tumultuous eruptions to the transcendent explorations of the Phill Musra Group, which worked in the sacred space carved out by late Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and other masters of questing free jazz.

From the Boston Globe

For lovers of adventurous jazz expression The Boston Creative Jazz Scene 1970-1983 is a necessary acquisition.

From Vinyl District

Cultures of Soul and Mark Harvey are to be commended for putting together this compilation in a way that honors the entire scene and places it into a broader perspective.

From All About Jazz