Monday, April 03, 2006
In the 1970's, a bunch of no-nothing money-grabbing exploitationist executives from EMI sat around and took a long look at where the tidemark was. Back then bands like Osibisa, artists like Manu DiBango and Fela were at the vanguard of an African diaspora, that was being latched onto in the mainstream. Not in any grand way -this was really just an extension of the 50's exotica scene, a quick plunder of a sound in response to a vogue, incongruosly perpetrated by middle-aged jingle writers in leafy North London suburbs.
Keen to capitalise, the EMI boys pulled in a large stash of the prodigiously talented session musician scene, threw them in Abbey Road, locked the doors, and told them and their ringleader Geoff Love to knock out some African ripoff schtick. The result was four albums, respectable sales, and a monumentally badly packaged "Best Of", pictured.
Out of this misguided nonsense came the monstrous "Black Rite". Snarling fuzz guitar, reams of percussion, huge horns and a downright nasty groove. Who's playing here is unclear - but Martin Denny, Alan Hawkshaw and others have largely been fingered by the estimable Vinyl Vultures.
Ten or so years ago this stuff had a huge resurgence - the Easy scene saw records like this dusted down, sold for healthy sums, and consequently clutched to many a grown man's chest. First and foremost amongst those was Martin Green, who featured this on the seminal compilation The Sound Gallery. For anyone interested in this sound, this is the touchstone compilation.