Chocolate Milk & Brandy / February 2021 / Part 2

Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today. 

If there was a library music element to Part 1, well its even more evident here, in Part 2….and this is also where all the reissues were hiding – with only the wonderful Discodor, Sometime Songs, Mike Salta & Mortale representing the new. 

Be With Records continue their collaboration with KPM – as well as pressing fresh commissions from folks such as Steve Moore and Jon Tye, in addition cherry-picking from the music house`s vast back catalogue. There are 2 LPs from the marvelous Keith Mansfield, now scheduled for March. Contempo is best exemplified – in my opinion – by Breezin`s orchestrated big band jazz funk – soaring, swinging and packing a beefy brass punch – or the mini-disco-symphony – bongo and conga-led sexy morning music – of Good Vibrations. 

Be With describe Vivid Underscores as one of their favourite KPM releases, as it fuses Keith`s customary strings and woodwinds with summery acoustic strum, horn fanfares, and importantly Suzanne Ciani-esque electronics. The perfect picking on Perpetual Motion adding an additional layer of Steve Reich-ian classical minimalist counterpoint. 

Stepping away from KPM from a moment, but still cornering that library market, Be With also have Jay Richford & Gary Stevan`s Feelings in shops – and very likely sold out. While the set`s been reissued several times – most recently across two 45s, by Dynamite Cuts, Be With have delivered the definitive pressing. Similar to Mansfield`s Contempo in sonic scope – there are woodwinds, strings, electric solos, bold bass-lines and brass on the opening track alone. Organ interplay added to Having Fun. Released on Italian label Carosello in 1974, the pseudonym-attributed suite was actually the work of 4 musicians and composers – Sandro Brugnolini, Giancarlo Gazzani, Puccio Roelens (Jay Richford), and Stefano Torossi (Gary Stevan). Racing across the 10 tracks, the funk is never far away. Running Fast is a Fender Rhodes-led uptempo latin dancer. Loving Tenderly swoons to a romantic, blue horn. The edges of Fearing Much are dramatic, distorted, the track`s orchestration more sinister. Its beat like a pounding heart. On Fighting For Life acid-fried rock guitars signal drug deals and heists gone wrong. Summon images of slick sleuths in flared three-piece suits. Who loves ya baby? Throughout the clipped “TV Cop Show” wah-wah licks have me remembering a `70s childhood sat in front of the goggle box. Kojack, Columbo, Ironside, The Streets Of San Francisco, Starsky & Hutch…and then there was The Sweeney, on after the 9 O`clock watershed – and which I was never allowed to watch. Its theme teasing from downstairs while mum tucked me in.

Not a library music record but painted from an almost identical musical palette is Sola’s Un Muñeco De Madera, once again dusted off and remastered by Be With. The main difference here is that these are proper songs, whispered and sweetly sung by a mysterious Mexican chanteuse. The music and arrangements, provided by Spanish composer Manuel Alejandro, draw comparisons to Italian counterparts, such as Franco Godi and Piero Umiliani. Pure pop confections of the same high quality as Johnny Harris` seminal Shirley Bassey sessions. Recorded in Acapulco and released in 1971, the album still swings with the `60s. One of the standouts, the Tropicalia-tinged Tabu Tabu, travels a tad further south. My notes say “Imagine if Asha Pulthi was from Rio.”

I’m gonna extend that library connection out to Omar Khoshid`s With Love, on Wewantsounds – since the Egyptian guitar maestro`s music is the kind of exotica that those library guys often aimed to emulate. The LP, recorded in Lebanon and dating from 1978, finds Khoshid showering his psyche twang over rock n roll arrangements of Arabic standards. Coupled with some kind of modular synth his six strings emitting a selection of treated twists and weird vibrato effects. The album powered by rattling traditional percussion – the enthusiastic bashing of two-sided drums, tablah, durbakke, and goat-skinned daf. 

Wewantsounds are also reissuing The George Otsuka Quintet`s Loving You George – a 1975 live set committed to tape at Nagoya`s hallowed Nemu Jazz Inn. With Otsuka on drums, Norio Ohno on percussion, Shozo Sasaki on sax, Mitsuaki Furuno on upright bass, and Fumio Karashima on piano and Fender Rhodes. The 5 of them journeying from ECM-esque cymbal shimmer, to the band-leaders one-man batucada displays. The 4 pieces are each 10 to 11 minute performances ranging from the opening modal spiritual – Furuno`s keys rippling, rising and falling – to breakneck takes on Steve Kuhn`s Something Everywhere, and Coltrane`s Miles Mode. The former setting off at a furious latin clip, with the Rhodes throwing flash fusion shapes. The horn appropriately leading the chase on the latter. The closing cover of Minnie Riperton`s Loving You, I guess could have been schmaltzy, but instead is sublime. The keys echoed, spacey in passionate waves, the groove making me once again reach for my copy of The Overton Berry Ensemble`s TOBE for reference. 

Kalita have a 12 from Muchos Plus. A perfect repro, plus extensive liner notes, of a single privately pressed in 1979. The A-side`s a cool vamp on The Beginning Of The End`s classic dance-floor packing Funky Nassau – raw, heavily reverb-ed, and banged out on barmy cowbells. The real gem for modern ears however, as many have said, can be found on the flip – the organ-led funk seduction of Love Misunderstood. A slice of slow sunset soul, with a gospel-like lead, and uplifting group harmonies. The ensemble taking it in turns to add their spoken observations on peace, unity, and affairs of the heart. 

Something that seemed to get lost in the run up to Christmas and the New Year was the 4th volume of Mr. Bongo`s Record Club. A selection of 17 favourites – DJ Format & Simonsound`s The Peruvian, Ze Roberto`s Lotus 72D – recent reissues – Azwon`s Paradise Island – and obscurities. Turning up marvels like Brazil’s Modern Tropical Quintet, whose Midnight In Moscow is like a meeting of Joe Meek and Johnny Pacheo. Rolling bottom-end piano and rock n roll rumble guitar. A mix of Fania Records-esque latin jazz and “space age” sound effects. Pedro Sanchez` Spanish acid rock. Carlos Puebla, Santiago Martinez, and Pedro Sosa`s sweet sing-along Cuban folk. Carnival`s Eyes Growing Wider is frantically strummed and conga`d post-punk jazz, in the vein of Factory’s Swamp Children / Kalima, Rough Trade`s Weekend, and a less dub-inflected Maximum Joy. Teaspoon Ndelu`s Sputla is party-starting South African disco – with a lyric half spoken, half sung – and dominated by Teaspoon`s sultry sax. 

Sometime Songs – Shooting Stars – Wonderfulsound
Muchos Plus – Love Misunderstood – Kalita
Keith Mansfield – Breezin – Be With Records / KPM
Sola – Oye Mama Oye Papa – Be With Records
Carlos Puebla & Santiago Martinez & Pedro Sosa – Sun Sun Damba E – Mr Bongo
Teaspoon Ndelu – Sputla – Mr Bongo
Amadou Y Mariam – Baara – Slow To Speak (?)
Omar Khoshid – Habibati – Wewantsounds
Discodor – Ascension – Wonderfulsound
Keith Mansfield – Good Vibrations – Be With Records / KPM
Sola – Tabu Tabu – Be With Records
Mike Salta & Mortale – Divided Illusions – NuNorthern Soul
Jay Richford & Gary Stevan – Feeling Tense – Be With Records
George Otsuka – Feelings – Wewantsounds

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