It's been a busy month for the team here at Mr Bongo. We've just released three essential reissues in a short period. Trust us, none of these should be overlooked. Here's a round-up:
With the original UK 7” of this release now as rare as hen’s teeth, and with the group having recently ‘reformed’ for one last album together, the Mr Bongo replica re-release of this 1990 masterpiece by Gang Starr couldn’t be more timely.
The now-legendary duo of DJ Premier and Guru dropped this at the height of hip-hop’s sampling of jazz, which had led to a creative leap forward for the genre. Yet while others plundered in the dark, this instant classic wore its influences on its sleeve and paid verbal homage to the musicians they were sampling. The “melodious funk” of “Thelonious Monk” gets namechecked, while the track samples two of his records, including 1958’s Bop gem ‘Light Blue’.
The Star Beams album is a bit of an enigma. When we first came across their epic dance-floor monster 'Disco Stomp’ it was on a Disco Calypso compilation, so we assumed it originated from the Caribbean. Years later we worked out how wrong we were and that this nugget was actually from South Africa and taken off an ultra scarce album on JAS Pride records from 1976. The next problem was tracking down an original copy, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen our Bongo team member Gary Johnson as happy as the day he turned up clutching a copy under his arm.
Apart from a few characters, the personnel of the record remains a mystery, but sometimes a bit of mystery is a good thing.
Originally released in 1982, this versatile LP covers a wide range of genres from Sotho soul, Mbaqanga, disco-funk, gospel and spacey-synth slow jams.
We were first introduced to this record thanks to the Afrosynth Records blog, which archives South African bubblegum/disco from the early 80s/90s. Aside from this blog, this music would remain unknown outside of South Africa, apart from the most hardcore of digger or record collector.