Afro Funk Explosion!


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Larry Jones (vocals, guitar); Arthur Grayson Young (vocals, flute, trumpet, Moog synthesizer); Ronnie James Buttacavoli (vocals, trumpet, Moog synthesizer); Frank Abel (vocals, piano, Clavinet, keyboards, Moog synthesizer); Keno Speller (vocals, congas, bongos, percussion, bells); Michael McEwan (guitar); Ernest Donable (drums, congas).
  • Liner Note Author: James MayCock.
  • The Lafayette Afro Rock Band's music is the stuff of legend to beatheads. Though the septet disbanded in 1978, their tracks have provided countless samples for a range of artists: LL Cool J, Biz Markie, the Beatnuts, Public Enemy, Janet Jackson, Wreckx-N-Effect, Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Flying Lotus, and more. There have been several good compilations, but none as comprehensive as Afro Funk Explosion. Containing 28 cuts on two discs, it's the first to showcase the band's depth and startling musical development between 1973 and 1977, with whomping soulful funk, soul, jazz, disco, and African and Latin grooves. It also contains sides recorded under their aliases, Crispy & Co. and Captain Dax.
  • LARB were New Yorkers who expatriated to Paris in 1971 as the Bobby Boyd Congress. They changed their name to Ice when Boyd went back to the States. They lived and worked in Paris' Barb?s district amid a large population of African emigres. After hooking up with producer Pierre Jaubert (John Lee Hooker, Charles Mingus), they cut several records under this moniker. He changed their name to LARB to attract African listeners, and recorded their two finest albums: 1974's Darkest Light and 1975's Malik.
  • Disc one's first ten tracks are all LARB jams. They include their killer instrumental read of Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa," the oft-sampled "Darkest Light," "Hihache," and other whomping funkers such as "Conga," "Vouodun," "Malik," "Red Matchbox" (featuring Mal Waldron on electric piano), and the instrumental version of "Djungi." The psychedelic jazz funk of "Scorpion Flower," the bubbling meld of highlife and Afrobeat in "A.I.E (A Mwana)" (both Crispy & Co.), and the insane proto-electro of "Dr. Beezar" (Captain Dax) close out the disc.
  • The second slice is all attributed to Ice. "Put an X on the Spot (In the Sky)" is one of three cuts from 1973's otherwise shoddy Each Man Makes His Own Destiny from 1973. "Racubah," "The Gap," and "Ozan Koukle" are taken from 1974's smoking all-instrumental Afro Agban. Seven of the ten cuts from 1975's mostly brilliant Frisco Disco are here, as is a complete Latin jazz-cum-disco version of the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves" from 1977's Seven Americans in Paris. (Alas, the three-part "Louisiane Suite" from that album has been omitted for limitations of space). To be honest, Arthur Young's lead vocals on these sides -- he's the band's saxophonist who replaced Boyd as frontman -- aren't great. Far from it. That said, they take a back seat to the amazing charts, the rainbow of driving rhythms, and the band's seemingly endless musical imagination in songwriting. This package also contains adapted/expanded liner notes by James Maycock (who wrote the originals for Strut's Darkest Light comp), and a frank, enlightening interview with Jaubert. Manifesto Records has done an excellent service in issuing this set. It's essential for fans of '70s funk and musically on par with the best of Mandrill, War, and Osibisa. ~ Thom Jurek
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