Cannibal & the Headhunters

Land of 1000 Dances: The Complete Rampart Recordings

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With "Land of 1000 Dances (Naa, Na, Na, Na, Naa)," L.A.'s Cannibal & the Headhunters had one of the great party hits of the '60s. It hit number 30 on the charts and inspired one of Wilson Pickett's finest covers. The group never followed it up with any hits, but their album, 1965's Land of 1000 Dances on Rampart, is a lost classic, one of the strongest you are likely to hear from a mid-'60s "party" band. Backed by musicians borrowed from the cream of the city's Latin groups like Thee Midniters and the Premiers, the group runs through a selection of contemporary hits like the Temptations' "My Girl," Junior Walker's "Shotgun," and the Ad Libs' "The Boy from New York City" and a handful of originals composed by the band and fellow members of the Rampart Records family like Chick Carlton and Larry Tamblyn. The covers are fun and energetic, but the originals like "Strange World," a powerful ballad led by Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia's yearning lead, the stomping brown-eyed soul shouter "Don't Let Her Go," and "The Fat Man," a loose frat rocker with some wild harmonica, demonstrate what an exciting and fun band they were. The only fault with the album is that the group never followed it up. [In 2005 Varese Sarabande re-released the original album with the addition of six bonus tracks, which taken together comprised the group's entire recorded output for Rampart. The six tracks are as good as anything on the album. A couple are even better like "Nau Ninny Nau" and the aching soul ballad "Please Baby Please." The disc is a long-overdue pleasure and a must purchase for lovers of mid-'60s rock & roll.]

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