Richard Mayers

Nappy: Music Man - Soul-Pop-Disco-Funk-Crossover from Trinidad, 1975-1981

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Soca developed in Trinidad and Tobago, and while it's a music that has been documented, there are many areas in its history that are relatively murky. Bear Family's 2015 compilation Nappy: Music Man shines a spotlight on Richard "Nappy" Mayers, a singer, guitarist, producer, and arranger who began his career with a band called Embryo and had some solo singles in addition to working with other artists. Bear Family's disc -- which is exceptionally well-annotated by Dave Elcock -- contains 19 of these sides, all recorded between 1975 and 1981, drawing heavily from Embryo's discography and containing a fair share of singles from Nadie La Fond, in addition to singles by Ceasar, Sound Revolution, and Nappy himself. There's a wide variety of artists and the sounds are diverse, too, more than a soca novice might expect: it's Caribbean but it often plays like exceptionally lithe disco or smooth gossamer soul, dipping into perhaps expected funk and reggae, but there's also a bit of country-rock/soft rock on the closing "Let Me in Your Life." This wide range of sounds underscores how Nappy was indeed a music man but it also winds up sounding like an album of the greatest soulful ideas of the late '70s.

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