2012 has been a very productive year for us at Mr Bongo HQ, with over 30 music and 10 films titles. Here are some personal favourites from the Bongo team, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have.
"My favourite Bongo track from 2012 has got to be Hollie Cook's interpretation of the Whispers classic "And the Beat Goes On". I have always believed that cover versions should be different enough from the original to stand alone as a great track in their own right. This fresh adaptation, with its breezy production from Prince Fatty and Hollie's ethereal vocals, does exactly that.
Hollie is also a lovely artist to work with and we have extremely high hopes for her in 2013!"
"For me this was a long journey of persistence . It took me five years to locate the owner of the film, Dolores Piedra. Initially I tracked her down in 2006 but it took another six years to restore the film and clean up the legal paperwork. As Orson Welles himself has declared it his best film, everyone should see see it."
"I have always loved the old 'Copa Trio' of Dom Salvador, Dom um Romao and Manoel Gusmao; this was Jorge Ben's band before Trio Mocoto took over the reins. I worked with Dom Um Romao on the Rhythm Traveller and Street Angels album; he was the best percussionist I have met as he knew what any track needed, from rock to salsa, and he would sprinkle his magic all over it.
Dom Salvador now lives in New Jersey, USA where he has a trio. We are hoping to bring to the UK soon."
"I first heard this from a crazy breaks dealer in New Jersey in the 90s'. I ended up living in Ghana for a few months soon after and managed to pick up a copy up but it was in typically, terrible shape.
Gareth Stephens [aka human vinyl encyclopedia and head of 2nd-hand here at Bongo] started asking about this record at the beginning of 2012. We looked into releasing it, contacted the Ghanian record producer legend Dick Essilfie Bondzie and licensed the album from him. Gareth then worked on a killer, short punchy edit of the Asafo Beesuon break with Graham Greymatter, which is coming soon on 7"."
"I’d never seen a Boris Barnet film before this, my only knowledge of him was from a few lines about his comedy The Girl With A Hat Box in Mark Cousins The Story of Film book. So I was unsure what to expect. What I found was a rare glimpse into life in the Soviet Union without having to look through the thick rimmed political spectacles, which dominates much of Soviet cinema.
By The Bluest Of Seas is a charming tale of love & friendship. The film is part the slap-stick of Laurel & Hardy, part a light hearted precursor of Truffaut’s Jules et Jim. (No wonder it was a favourite with the Nouvelle Vague film makers; the cast are even sporting some fine Brenton shirts). But also part documentary in its use of naturalistic locations, showing an island fishing community and the role the sea plays in their lives. This is captured beautifully in the cinematography for Mikhail Kirillow. The film is a brief snapshot into a lost place & time which I’m glad Boris Barnet sort to capture."
"Its been a great year for us, with so many big bits that its very hard to choose. Hollie Cook In Dub is probably the record I've listened to most; Hollie, Horseman and Mike on top form. And Orson Welles' Chimes At Midnight with THAT mind-blowing battle scene..... Anyway, I have slimmed it down to just two - one film and one record:
I spent a great deal of time working on this project this year, which I enjoyed immensely, and as a result I have seen the film at least five times in its entirety within the last six months. Although it's not the easiest watch and some of the messier scenes definitely made me squirm, it is a psychedelic masterpiece of weird and wonderful themes and strange characters, with a story line that keeps you locked in from the off. No wasted frames on this one; punchy and well shot, with an excellent soundtrack too. Love it.
It's always a treat to find unheard Brazilian Jazz albums. This one is a banger from the start and stands up as one of those 'must own' Jazz LP's for me, in fact we were surprised it wasn't better known. Big, heavy drums, lush piano and bass, its a record that would happily sit next to Airto, Baden Powell, Os Ipanemas, Som Tres and co.
The sleeve design is my favourite of the year too - high contrast black and white photo that spans the whole of the gatefold cover, titled in bright orange and red, and printed on heavy reverse board for added sweaty palm factor."
"My favourite Bongo film of 2012 is Don Quixote. It’s a comedy tale of how a man who is so enchanted by books of chivalry that they change his perception of reality. He changes his name to Don Quixote of La Mancha and goes out into the world as a wandering knight errant determined to right some wrongs. He takes along a local farmer (Sancho Panza) as his slightly more-in-touch with reality squire, who does try to add some warnings and clarity to the situations they face. Nevertheless he goes along with everything anyway as his master naively tries to do good deeds which rarely end well.
It’s a very charming story of friendship and finding out that you need to be true to yourself to find happiness. Living according to how you want the world to be. Accepting the boring everyday at face value is not really living at all."
"One of the best, but least-known Brazilian Jazz LPs of all time, this hard bossa-jazz LP by Salvador Trio is my personal favourite re-issue of the year. The cover is a masterfully concise reflection of the music, and nods at Francis Wolff's portraiture covers for Blue Note, but has so much more energy; the bold, colourful typography fits it perfectly.
I can't recommend this highly enough - listen to 'Santarem' and 'Tema Pro Gaguinho' and you'll see why. It also features restored artwork and we've improved on the original pressing by finishing it in a gatefold sleeve."
"One episode after another, men and women shun at his naivety, at his 'outdated chivalry'. Some think it a schemed up front, some feel sorry for the poor bugger, but most just laugh at this fool of the first order.
Then finally, this 'Knight of the Rueful Countenance', as the worldly Sancho calls his childlike Senor, finds the sinister monster behind all of humanity's mess. It’s the evil magician Friston who has taken the shape of a windmill. Senor charges him, mounted on his horse, as Kozintsev does a simple rightward camera pan.
"I'm telling you that I believe in people! Those masks you pulled on their faces will not deceive me!"
The camera now transfixed on the moving windmill itself, rousing trumpets blowing in the background..
"Love, loyalty and mercy will conquer all! Glory to people! May all malicious magicians be dead!
Then Don Quixote falls to the ground, and Sancho Panza looks to see if he's dead.
This is Cervantes' triumph. This is Kozintsev's Triumph. This is Quixote's triumph. And the triumph of you and I.
Forget that it’s a bona-fide cinematic masterpiece, just go see it because it’s a love letter to good old fashioned humanism. Maybe we need more Quixotes in this world."