When the Sugarhill Gang's Rappers Delight hit big in the fall of 1979, it opened the floodgates for a wave of independent New York hiphop records, most of which have now been forgotten along with the artists behind them, like T Ski Valley , Spyder D , Mr. Q , Solo Sound , Nice and Nasty 3 , TJ Swann and Xanadu . The two-disc Big Apple Rappin' ( Soul Jazz ) set does more than collect some of their more important tracks, like Brother D 's rarely comped classic How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise, from vinyl artifacts released during the early days of hiphop (1979-82). It also packages the music with period photos and photocopied concert handbills along with commentary from the artists, producers and scenemakers in an attempt to document a DIY cultural explosion. Remarkably entertaining for a history lesson.
There appears to be a commonly held misconception amongst those in the business of assembling funk comps that all the tracks either need to have a sampler-friendly break or sound like they could've been recorded by James Brown - perhaps both. Thankfully, there are still a few folks out there putting out discs like the storming Barnyard Soul! ( Deep Groove ) collection which, as its subtitle indicates, favours Greasy, Gritty, Groovy Southern-Fried Soul! This is strictly raw and nasty lease-breaking material dubbed from the crackly 45s of hombres like Piney Brown , Frankie Seay , Roscoe & Friends , Bobby Boseman and Ralph Jackson that's not conducive to fancy floor spins and pirouetting - northern soul fans take note.
Wouldn't you know it, after spending years tracking down all the Syllart recordings of Guinea's grand Bembeya Jazz National , Stern's has issued The Syliphone Years , a fabulous 26-track double-disc set of all their best tunes from their 60s and 70s peak years featuring the entrancing guitar runs of Sékou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté . Those who cherish the magical early work of Senegal's Orchestra Baobab will find a lot to love in the driving rhythms of the horn-enhanced Bembeya bruisers, and now you won't have to waste hours flipping through dusty old calypso and merengue records to get their stuff.
When I last spoke with Roy Ayers , I asked the much-sampled vibraphonist if there were any plans to reissue his West Coast Vibes debut, produced by Leonard Feather for United Artists . He didn't seem to think that whoever owned the rights to the masters knew or cared enough about the 1963 recording to put it back in circulation. Well, apparently Mighty Quinn Productions was sharp enough to get in touch with EMI Music Special Markets , because West Coast Vibes is finally available once again, appended with two bonus tracks recorded for Vi Redd 's Bird Call album of 62. Ayers swings hard throughout, but you really need to hear the modal mover Out Of Sight, which boasts some forward-looking soprano sax sweetness from Curtis Amy . Nice.