Various Artists

Club Africa, Vol. 2: Hard African Funk, Afro-Jazz, & Original Afro-Beat

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Another album compiled by number one Afro-beat promoter Russ Dewbury. This is the first of his African collections where Fela Kuti is not included. But nonetheless the focus, being funk on the earlier albums, has shifted slightly toward Afro-beat, which means long repetitive songs with more complex rhythms. This makes for less immediate hits, with the most furious tracks from the other collections not equaled here. But the dancefloor potential is still extremely high, as is the collector's factor, with many of the tracks being very hard to find in the Western world. Not that all the groups are African. Exile One is from Guadeloupe and Antonio Carlos E Jocafi is from Brazil, with many of the others having recorded albums in Europe or the States. An exception from the funky Afro-beat style of the album is the jazzy "A Long Way From Home" by Hugh Masekela, feeling a bit out of place on an album seemingly intended for the dancefloor. Other tracks that stick out are "Dyambo" by Hugh Masekela & the Union of South Africa and "Mahlalea" by Letta Mbulu, who, together with Manu Dibango, is the most well-known contributor to the album. Their songs are more soul than funk, but very African soul -- fast moving with a rolling rhythm and much percussion. And in the case of "Letta Mbulu," it is one of few available recordings where she shows why she really is the soul queen of South Africa.

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