Box o' boogaloo
If you're doing some online shopping this week for that funk sevens fanatic on your list, the must-have item of the season is the incredible 10-single Explosivos box set - also available as a single CD - from Spain's Vampi Soul label collecting 20 hard-to-find sides of swinging Nuyorican soul, jazz and boogaloo complete with the original style Fania, Cotique, Alegre and Tico labels. So they look amazing, but these vintage dance-floor destroyers by Ralph Robles , Chollo Rivera , Al Escobar , Charlie and Eddie Palmieri , Jimmy Sabater , King Nando and Joey Pastrana sound even better. Last time I checked, copies could still be found at the dependable www.dustygroove.com.
It was sad to hear the news that innovative guitarist Link Wray has gone on to that great biker bar in the sky, but fortunately he left us with a load of nasty-great instro rockers to enjoy. It's just sheer coincidence that Sundazed had already slated the release of Law Of The Jungle!, a raucously ripping set of Swan label demos Wray cut in a basement back in 1964 to see if he could swing a recording contract. Uncharacteristically sensitive takes of Begin The Beguine and My Alberta were thrown in to show they could play nice, but the real business here is the scorching early takes of Deuces Wild, Ace Of Spades and Rumble. Too tough.
By Jorge, he's got it!
Brazil's favela soul boss Seu Jorge found that not being familiar with David Bowie 's original Ziggy Stardust material was actually an advantage in reinterpreting the songs for the soundtrack of Steve Zissou's The Life Aquatic. Regrettably, the horribly lo-fi recordings that were made on location appeared on the accompanying soundtrack disc, a foolish mistake that has finally been addressed with the release of The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge (Hollywood). Now we can all enjoy Jorge's delightfully twisted acoustic Ziggy revisions, which surprisingly make Bowie's glam goodies sound like they were written in a Rio café. Genius.
Phantom of sunshine pop
Today, former Hollywood Squares regular Paul Williams might only be remembered for his appearances in made-for-TV movies, but the lyricist partner of songwriter/producer Roger Nichols was one of the golden boys of the sunshine pop era, co-writing Carpenters ' hits like We've Only Just Begun, Rainy Days And Mondays and Let Me Be The One. Unfortunately, he couldn't turn the chart trick for himself, and his Someday Man debut was forgotten soon after its release in 1969. Collectors Choice have astutely recognized this injustice and reissued the overlooked masterwork that shows off the considerable writing and arranging skills of the Williams/Nichols team at their peak - and it's $15 cheaper than the Japanese reissue.