Focus on : Mr Bongo Recordings (UK)
Mr Bongo started in 1989 as a record shop in London. In 1999 it moved to Brighton and closed its shops in 2003. Now a label featuring some of the best Brazilian, Latin, Reggae, African and Jazz music, Mr Bongo seriously came to our attention in 2006, with the superb dancefloor Brazilian Funk compilation 'Brazilian Beats Brooklyn' , one that rarely leaves the DJ bag. The same year they also reissued the cult 'Bongo Rock' album from The Incredible Bongo Rock and a surprising Afrofunk compilation 'Sound Affects Malmaison', including a second disc of exclusive remixes from the likes of Quantic, Fink, Bonobo or Walkner.Hintenaus!
In 2007 an inspiring Club Jazz compilation caught our ears, selected by DJ Russ Dewbury, 'A Night At The Jazz Rooms'. The 'Sound Affects' Brazil' double-disc, released the same year and following-up on the Afro one, included some exclusive remixes of Fatboy Slim, Bonobo, Jazzanova or Fink but it was the Fania Records 2CD set of remixes and originals that made it to our playlists with DJ Format delivering a fantastic rework of Dave Cortez' classic 'Happy Soul With A Hook' (also know as 'Tighten Up'), Quantic remixing Johnny Pacheco or Andy Smith & Keith Lawrence putting their skills to test on a Fania All Stars track…
2007 was also the year that saw the rise of a very talented new player in the UK Reggae scene, Prince Fatty, with his 'Survival Of The Fittest' album, announcing great things to come… and if the last album Terry Callier from 2009 was more of a half-full, half-empty kind of record than his 70s Soul masterpiece, indeed notable Prince Fatty productions followed on Mr Bongo: the 'Supersize' album in 2010 with its Ol' Dirty Bastard ('Shimmy Shimmy Ya') and Cypress Hill ('Insane In The Brain') covers; the Hollie Cook self-titled 'Hollie Cook' album from 2011 and its especially its dub counterpart 'Hollie Cook In Dub' from the next year; the dub, ska and surf meet spaghetti western 'Return Of Gringo' from Prince Fatty & Mutant Hi-Fi, a major achievement in our books released late 2011; and finally the very cool 'Versus The Drunken Gambler' Prince Fatty album from 2012, featured in our 400th mix 'Outernational Ska & Reggae Dub Covers'.
In 2011 the label, fully in synch with its baseline essential world cinema and music, started producting films and soundtracks such as 'Rio Breaks', and re-issuing 1970's Brazilian beauties such as Cravo & Canela mid-70s Música Popular Brasileira masterpiece 'Preço De Cada um', some beautiful South American folk-psych-raga thing from Lula Côrtes & Lailson, and a introductory compilation to the sound of the hedonistic psychedelic rock scene in northeastern Pernambuco, Brazil, 'Psychedelic Pernambuco', full of incredible re-discoveries.
2012 saw Mr Bongo exploring deeper and deeper that local scene from 60s and 70s Nordeste do Brasil, from the latin/prog/rock of Marconi Notaro & Lula Côrtes the psychedelic rock of Os Canibais, the garage rock of The Gentlemen, the gentle mid-60s bossa nova of pianist Johnny Alf accompanied by Hermeto Paschoal (flute) and Airto Moreira (drums), to the hard bossa from the same period of the Salvador Trio…
Besides psychedelic Brazilian nuggets, in 2011 Mr Bongo also started re-issuing some really tasty African records from the 70s, starting with the classic Ghana Highlife album from C.K. Mann, 'Funky Highlife', followed in 2012 by two albums from Ghanaian guitarist/producer Ebo Taylor, the self-titled 'Ebo Taylor' from 1977, a marvelous piece of Ghanaian soul featuring the highlife-meets-funk classic 'Heaven'; and 'Conflict' from 1980, a gem of Ghanaian afro-funk featuring another highlife-meets-funk classic, 'Love And Death'.
Now it's 2013 already, and amazing re-issues keep on flowing from the Mr Bongo gates: 'Shango', a killer 1974 Afrobeat LP; 'Miliki Sound' a 1975 hard-hitting psychedelic Afrojazz LP, both from Nigerian saxophonist/composer/arranger Peter King; and 'Chapter One', a 1972 gem of Afro-Rock, blending highlife and psychedelic rock, by the great Nigerian 70s band BLO.
Let's not forget, of course, Nico Gomez's 'Ritual' album from 1971, which falls into the 'classic afro-latin funk' category, and if you don't already own it, now's the chance. Recorded in Belgium by a band of Netherlanders, you'll be surprised by how vintage this latin funk/afro soul/chicano rock masterpiece sounds!! And Mr Bongo oesn't stop at reissues, with 'Funk Globo', a compilation of Neo Baile Funk (i.e. blends of Electronic music with the Funk Carioca), not one for the faint-hearted who should rather aim for the candy, the self-titled album from the Runaway Orchestra, a ten tracks covers project of uplifting orchestral pop…
Many of those recent releases have been reviewed in our monthly playlists and we can only hope that many more fully licensed quality vinyl pressings will keep on arriving on our doorsteps, along with some cool new music. Wishing that the Mr Bongo catalog will keep on growing at such a pace!
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