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Hey, I've got a long review of five graphic novels up at the Washington Post. The theme is "the uses of cuteness"...

Today's record is Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up (Numero Group), an anthology of Belizean '60s and '70s disco and funk records (mostly) from the CES label. (It stands for Contemporary Electronic Systems, a Belize City company that installed security systems before it started putting out records, and still does.) I was approaching it from a position of near-total ignorance: the only Belizean music I'd heard before was a ten-year-old comp I've mentioned here before, Shine Eye Gal: Brukdon from Belize. As it turns out, there's not much music that was actually recorded there--aside from a 1965 album, no "official recordings" were made in Belize until the '80s, and most of these bands were recorded on trips to the U.S. and so on.

And it's mostly crate-digger stuff--the sort of thing that would be a lucky find if you stumbled onto it at a garage sale, and sounds good e.g. to cook dinner to, but doesn't have too many standout moments, aside from a very weird slow one by the Professionals called "A Part of Being With You." The covers--"Shame Shame Shame," "Theme from The Godfather," "Back Stabbers"--are easily the best songs, and lots of the originals are... not so original. (Lord Rhaburn's "Boogaloo A La Chuck" is mostly just the vamp from James Brown's "Out of Sight" with some soggy-fisted one-chord organ playing.) The stuff that's noted as funk-break collectors' items... well, funk-break collectors are kind of insatiable, I suppose--I would guess that the folks behind some of Soul Fire's records had heard these, given their production's particular kind of raggedness.

(Also, a couple of omissions are maddening. The Professionals' calypso "The Queen Sings" "sold over 30,000 copies at home and abroad," according to the liner notes, so why isn't it on here?)

(And the Professionals' version of "Back Stabbers" is the second most minimal I've heard. It's been converted into a 1972-style reggae groove, and the lyrics have been reduced to "What you doin'?/They smile into your face/You back stabbers"; the rest is approximated by a small but game horn section. I'm wondering if it came out before or after Fred Wesley & the J.B.s' version, in which the lyric consists of "What they do!/They smile in your face.") (On the other hand, it could be worse: whoever posted this version apparently thinks the title is "Back Bers." And whoever transcribed it hears the climactic line as "I wish they'd take some of these knives off my back." Maybe it is, but I always heard it as "out of my back.")

(Actually, the Harmonettes' version of "Shame Shame Shame" goes "If you don't want to go/Remember why a monkey don't have no shirt/My body needs action, ain't got no clothes." Apparently some American idioms didn't make it down to Belize.)

Favorite bit of the packaging: a reproduction of a Lord Rhaburn ("accompanied by Lord Rhaburn Combo") LP cover, Calypso Is Power, that notes "Featuring 'Bulge Eye Reporta' Has Big As Possible." What?

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on October 8, 2005 11:56 PM.

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