Towards the end of last year Be With Records took a look at the back catalogue of legendary UK Library Music house KPM, and did a sizable reissue. While the resulting eleven LPs were a dip in the ocean as far as KPM`s total output is concerned, Be With`s selection managed to showcase the majority of KPM`s key arrangers, composers, and players. Names like Brian Bennett, John Cameron, James Clarke, Francis Coppieters, John Fiddy, Alan Hawkshaw, Les Hurdle, Nick Ingram, Keith Mansfield, and Alan Parker. Be With have now reissued four more albums, focussing on the music of Cameron, Mansfield, and Parker. Beat Incidental, Jazzrock, The Road Forward, and, for me, pick of the bunch, Afro Rock.
Given the title it`s not surprising that crazed percussion and electric riffs – on both axe and Hammond B3 – drive Afro Rock. Tambourines shake, and wah-wah sings a stoned Blues. Duanne Allman-like bottle-neck slide marks the swamp Boogie of Frozen Steam. Solid Stain takes cowbell and bongos to the Disco. Punch Bowl sounds like Shaft giving chase. Divided roughly into a side each, Alan Parker’s compositions come on like Traffic with Rebop Kwaku Baah, Steve Windwood`s solo work, and Brian Auger`s Oblivion Express. John Cameron’s side feels jazzier. Flutes to the fore, its mellower. Survival runs on Mission Impossible-esque bass. Afro Metropolis is a Superfly vamp. Afro Waltz has a definite Lagos bounce. While it`s bang full of breaks begging to be borrowed, it`s the first Library Music LP I’ve heard whose tracks can also be “dug” together as a whole.
*It`s worth noting that Alan Hawkshaw`s Cruising, from The Road Forward, is also blinding.