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Sunday, August 20, 2017 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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Love's A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds Of West Africa
Luaka Bop
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Luaka Bop's World Psychedelic Classics series is only up to its third volume, but it has already established a formidable mark for consistency with releases that, on paper, don't seem to have much to do with each other. The first entry was Shuggie Otis' Inspiration Information, an overlooked gem of 1970s soul and R&B created by a Sly Stone-inspired teen guitar prodigy who prefigured Prince's lone-genius-in-the-studio M.O. The second, Everything Is Possible! The Best of Os Mutantes, gave warped and wonderfully joyous Brazilian pop a loving home on U.S. shelves.

While Love's a Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa might not top either of those near-milestone rediscoveries, there's no question the series has kept its perfect record intact on Volume 3, which charts the reverberations of the Western psychedelic revolution in early-'70s African music. As might be expected with a collection that spans several years and several countries on a large continent, Love's a Real Thing offers a Day-Glo tapestry of sounds, from searing acid rock on the guitar-heavy "Allah Wakbarr" by Ofo and the Black Company to mellow blaxploitation-style funk colored with minor-key marimba on Manu Dibango's "Ceddo End Title." The funk quotient on these tracks was high enough to entice Stones Throw, a hip-hop-centered label from California, to cut a deal with David Byrne's Luaka Bop and press this up on vinyl, but gritty drum breaks are far from the only attraction — check out "Porry" by Sorry Bamba, a musician from Mali who fused electric instruments with his region's trancelike folk music to create something that would have blown the minds of West Coast raga fans if this music had ever made it past Africa's shores.

But since it didn't, until now, Love's a Real Thing provides a fascinating link with which to trace these musicians' influences backward and forward. For example, James Brown's grunts and lockstep funk are the obvious touchstone for Moussa Doumbia's "Keleya," but the song also already features the funky electric piano that would become a staple of Fela Kuti's afrobeat sound a few years later. Interestingly, the disc's liner notes contend that the embrace of dashikis, headbands, necklaces and afros by Western hippies emboldened African students to ditch their "London suits" and feel hip in their traditional clothes, but while fashion seems to have traveled both ways, the musical situation was a one-way pipeline between continents instead of a feedback loop. Manu Dibango is probably the only name on Love's a Real Thing that would ring a bell with the average listener.

Better late than never, then, that the past few years' obsession with all things funky has led this stuff to a wider audience. The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa would make a great backdrop for a second sun-dappled Summer of Love, a daydream that feels both hopelessly naïve and absolutely necessary.

And by the way, whatever's on Volume 4? Sign me up.


by Dave Renard




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