Brazilian bad boy
Back in 1970, Brazilian pianist João Donato was living in Los Angeles when the Blue Thumb label offered him carte blanche to make a record, telling him to go out and buy the latest electric gizmos. While shopping for keyboards, he also picked up a few Led Zeppelin and James Brown records along with some mind-altering substances. "At the time, music was very raw, noisier," says Donato. "And I made the noisiest record I can ever remember making." True enough. The wildly funky album Donato created with arranger Eumir Deodato , A Bad Donato - just reissued 24-bit-style by Dubas Musica/Universal - stands as one of the great sleeper psych-funk party blasts of the 70s. Betcha didn't think your bossa boy could play this nasty.
Ready for rock steady
Although the rock steady era really lasted only two years in Jamaica, during the cooling-off period between ska and reggae in the mid-60s, the classic soul- and R&B-inspired songs of the time have a magical relaxing quality that's prized by roots reggae collectors today. Some of the very best rock steady was recorded by Phil Pratt before he started up his Sunshot and Terminal operations, and Safe Travel (Pressure Sounds) collects those rare early recordings by Horace Andy , Ken Boothe , Hemsley Morris and Peter Austin for the obscure Caltone and Jontom labels. It's really a showcase for guitarist Lyn Taitt , whose fabulously fluid fills helped define the rock steady sound. At the same time, Bunny "Striker" Lee was also busy slowing down the ska bounce, and the best of his sessions with Pat Kelly , Slim Smith , Owen Gray , Glen Adams and Alton Ellis are neatly gathered on The Bunny Lee Rock Steady Years (Moll-Selekta). Get 'em both.
Deep digging German DJ Florian Keller is back with a second volume of his Creative Musicians (Perfect.Toy) series, documenting more obscure artifacts from the late 60s and early 70s. Once again he jumps the boundaries of James Brown-style rumblings into uptempo boogaloo, swinging R&B, lounge jazz, even venturing into dangerous boogie-down disco territory. There are still a few in-the-pocket groovers from hombres like David Robinson (no, not that David Robinson), whose Eddie Bo -tweaked I'm A Carpenter is a class-A burner, but hearing the diversity of tempos and styles collected here, it's apparent Keller's getting bored with the same old shout 'n' shimmy. We're all the better for it. Go ahead, try some Faruk Green , Ruff Francis , Pamoja and Joe Marcinkievicz - you'll like it.