Music News

Various artists

Oh, the joy of the digital era. It seems like every month, obscure recordings and nearly impossible to find tracks are being rereleased as independent labels scour the catalogs of defunct record companies, searching for buried treasure. Sometimes, those rereleases are filled with a few good songs and lots of filler, but in rare cases, a CD like Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay comes out and you hear a song like Dry Bread´s ¨Words to My Song¨ or Sylvia Hall´s ¨Don´t Touch That Thing¨ and know you´ve got your hands on something special. Put together by Chicago´s Numero Group, Grand Bahama Goombay is a collection of the stellar funk-meets-soul and calypso sounds from Freeport, Bahamas. All the tunes were recorded between ´68 and ´75 in the island´s only studio, GBI, by its owner/engineer, Frank Penn. With influences from James Brown and Sly Stone wafting in the air, the 16 tracks here are Caribbean funk of the highest caliber. Standouts include Jay Mitchell´s ¨Goombay Bump¨ and Cyril Ferguson´s ¨Gonna Build a Nation,¨ which is all Southern soul and sounds like it was cooked up by Archie Bell and the Drells. Unfortunately, Hall is the only woman on this comp, but her ¨Don´t Touch That Thing¨ is a blend of localized ¨rake ´n´ scrape¨ music mixed with American funk, and it´s probably the best on the disc. The songs are all full of the charming desperation that not only comes from no-name local bands trying to make it big but from an entire nation that was still under colonial rule. In that vein, Grand Bahama Goombay is educational in many regards but also one hell of a jewel for lovers of rare breaks and island music from the Eastern Caribbean.
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Jonathan Cunningham