Friday, June 19, 2009


The Exciters and Miss Soul

Visit the Soundway Records' website and you'll almost immediately see the tagline "Unveiling forgotten chapters from some of the world's most vibrant musical cultures." And that's exactly what you'll get when listening to Panama! 2: Latin Sounds, Cumbia Tropical and Calypso Funk on the Isthmus 1967-77. The last few days I've been writing about Latin music that draws upon older traditional styles and melds them with newer production techniques and western music. Well, this release is all about taking it back old school.

Just as with the first volume, released three years ago, all twenty of the tracks here were pulled from vinyl dusted off from the treasure troves of radio stations in Panama, and while sound clarity might not be perfect, it's easy to overlook in exchange for getting such a raw and varied collection of music probably never heard outside of Panama. While discerning ears will hear shades of influences from beyond the borders of Panama, of American jazz, R&B and R&R, much more front and center is the influence of Central American countries closer to Panama, such as Costa Rica and Cuba. This is genuine Latin music for Latin listeners - not westernized for commercialized purposes. And it cooks.

As the albums title suggests, contained within is a wide range of music, even if it does all come from one thin country. The twenty tracks are all upbeat numbers, which makes this a perfect summer album to throw on for a barbecue while drinking down some cold beverages. And if you happen to be in the San Francisco area, make sure to check out the official album launch party on July 3rd (more info here) where you're guaranteed to have a good time with DJ Beto (who culled the cuts on the album) spinning some Latin goodness.

Here's a couple track to wet your whistle for the album. The first, Mi Bella Panama, kicks out some salsafied rhythms that will get your body moving for sure. The second, Juck Juck, is an amusing reggae stoked number with some Englishfied lyrics you can sing along with. New Bag, the last song here, comes from the first volume released in 2006, and is all about paying some homage to good old James Brown, from it's very title, to its horn lines and funk. Along with the twenty great tracks on the album, you'll find some liner notes that provide a brief overview of the country's history, culture, and musical development. All in all, a well put together package.

and one from the first volume:

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