Congolese car clash
Growing up the son of an auto mechanic gave me ample opportunity to explore the various sonorities of mufflers, oil pans, radiators and wheel rims, yet none of my childhood crankcase clanging ever approached the striking musicality of Mawangu Mingiedi and his Congolese auto-parts-bashing crew Konono No.1 . Imagine if Fat Albert's Junkyard Band were from Kinshasa and recorded trippy Bazombo jams for Underground Resistance and you'll get an idea of the kind of ancient-future meltdown that's in store on the Vincent Kenis -produced Congotronics (Crammed Discs) album. Lock up your garages - they're touring.
As much as I love the singing of Ibrahim Ferrer, his Buena Vista Social Club duet partner Omara Portuondo really stole the show in the Wim Wenders documentary. As a companion to her great Flor De Amor (Nonesuch) disc, Universal has just released The Cuban Collection: Omara Portuondo, which compiles 15 tracks cut by the stirring soprano at Havana's famed Egrem studio after leaving Cuarteto d'Aida to go solo. Unfortunately, the accompanying notes are scant and vague (there's no recording session info at all), but the performances, including a lovely early take on her classic Dos Gardenias, are stellar. Pick up the Compay Segundo disc in the series while you're at it.
Producer/DJ Andy Votel is another of those characters who's much better at compiling than recording, and he digs up some delightful hippy folk oddities for the charming new Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word (Delay) collection. Avoiding the conventional and traditional strumming and singalongs, Votel instead focuses on the enchanting female-fronted jazz and psych fusions from the 70s that typically have either an eerie edge or some dope beats. Even those who think folk music is boring will find the stunning voices of Linda Perhacs, Brigitte Fontaine, Erica Pomerance , Bonnie Koloc and the Poppy Family's Susan Jacks strangely seductive.
Here's an odd one - a white label James Brown 12-inch EP using the late 60s Starday-King label design and containing four previously unissued studio versions of Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (6:56), Bring It Up (3:48), I Can't Stand Myself (7:19) and Let Yourself Go (3:57). You might already be convinced it's a just another boot, yet the shockingly great sound quality of the club-friendly re-edits suggests this stuff came directly from the masters. Strange. That could mean there's loads of amazing unreleased James Brown material to come.