Exuma II

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Exuma's second album is perhaps a little less strange and a little more sedate than his debut (also released in 1970) -- but only a little. It's another combination of folk music from the Bahamas with voodoo-esque ritual not far removed from some of the more extreme New Orleans music influenced by that practice. In places (like "Fire in the Hole," probably the most accessible cut), there's a spiritual lilt to the vocals that might remind some listeners, if only faintly, of some of the Rasta-fired reggae recorded by Bob Marley and others in the '70s. It's hardly just another day at the office for Mercury Records, though, when one of the first lyrics of an album blithely states, "you thought you married a woman, you married a big black bird." Too, "Paul Simon Nontooth" might even be further out (and creepier) than anything on the first album, being more a zombie revival ritual than a conventional song. There are more tuneful items, too, though, like "Baal," where Exuma's raw, scratchy vocals approximate an exotic soul-gospel feel. And even on the more laid-back tracks, there are all sorts of weird, spontaneous-sounding interjections of percussion, yells, and chanting voices, "We Got to Go" even sounding something like a 19th-century group trying to play like War, only lacking the modern technology to make the transition complete. Plenty of albums based in folk traditions, and plenty of albums that are very odd, have little variety from cut to cut. That, refreshingly, is something that most definitely cannot be said of Exuma, Vol. 2, where you're never quite sure what's around the corner. Overall, however, it's similar enough to the first album that it sounds almost as if it could have been overspill from the same sessions. While it might not be quite as striking as his previous album, certainly anyone who likes that debut will like this as well (and vice versa), and its reissue on CD in 2003 made it more available than it had been for decades.

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