Various Artists

Black Rio, Vol. 2: Original Samba Soul 1968-1981

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The funk and soul scene in Brazil in the late 1960s, '70s, and early '80s fed off of a hybrid mix of Afro, Latin, and American influences, and while the result was a dance music that was relentless and infectious, it somehow added up to less than it should or might have been, maybe because the scene lacked a defining artist, a Bob Marley, a Fela Kuti, or a James Brown, to provide a template, a direction, and an iconic face to the whole thing. Put together by DJ Cliffy, the man behind "Batmacumba," the longest running Brazilian club night in London, this set is the second volume of "samba soul" from Strut Records (the first volume was released in 2002). It's a fun compilation, full of bright grooves and irresistible energy, but yet nothing really leaps out here, and listening to this anthology is a bit like dancing all night in a club and then not remembering a single song or melody the next morning. Not that there aren't cool tracks here -- sides like Super Sam Lord's horn-drenched "BR Samba" hit hard with a samba-on-steroids force, and Emilio Santiago's "Bananeira" has a groove and flow so natural and easy one could just float away on it. But no international hits came out of the Brazilian soul scene because there just wasn't that big, defining record that put all of it on the map. What's here is interesting, and no one will have a difficult time tapping their toes to it, but most of it just isn't memorable in the long run.

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