The Message

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It's hard to fathom why Cymande didn't follow in the paths of such early-'70s funk-rock hitmakers as War, Santana, and Curtis Mayfield straight up to the top of the charts. But for reasons unknown, the eight-member band wallowed in obscurity during their brief tenure together. This all changed years later, after the group developed a cult following in the '90s after several rap acts began prominently sampling the group, leading to great interest in the group's three studio albums issued during a mere two-year span, from 1973 to 1974. The only problem was, all three were long out of print and never issued on CD. But this all changed in 1999, when the British label Sequel Records (a division of Castle Music) issued the double-disc set,The Message. Weighing in at 32 tracks, the set contains all three of their albums (1973's self-titled debut and sophomore effort, Second Time Around, and 1974's Promised Heights), as well as three tracks that were previously unissued the first time around. All three of their albums are incredibly consistent from beginning to end (with perhaps the rather tedious and predictable "Rastafarian Folk Song" being the only lowlight), as evidenced by such outstanding tracks as "One More," "Getting It Back," "Listen," "Dove," "Bra," "Willy's Headache," "For Baby Ooh," "Fug," "Bird," "Them and Us," and the collection's title track, among others. The Message may be hard to track down for folks outside of the United Kingdom, but it will be well worth the hunt to discover this exceptional music.

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