Cameo – Cardiac Arrest (1977)
The debut album from the hard-hitting funk legends still blows me away now. This came out in 1977, way before their crossover 80s pop hit “Word Up’. Many tracks here are still getting a good workout on the dance floor today.
Banda Black Rio – Gafieira Universal (1978)
Tight Latin jazz funk with great changes and syncopated rhythms throughout. The band’ second album and one of the best Brazilian funk releases I know from this era!
Wagon Christ – Throbbing Pouch (1995)
Probably the pinnacle of 90s downbeat for me. The album sounds warm and woody, is laid back and slow, and has a remarkable coherency that has allowed it to stand the test of time. This album was unlike anything that was coming out back then, and surprisingly was released on Rising High Records, mainly known for releasing trance music. Luckily the album skipped the trance genre, and in my opinion is the best thing the label ever put out!
Plug – Drum “n’ Bass for Papa (1996)
Another Luke Vibert production and this is still the standout and most interesting drum and bass record I have ever heard. Although I don’ produce drum and bass and rarely play it out anywhere, I still find this album surprising, innovative and an inspirational feat of music production. Not sure if this is commercially available anymore as I heard there were some issues with some samples on it, but well worth tracking down if you haven’ heard it before!
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey/Garvey’ Ghost (1976)
Hard to pick a classic reggae album out of my many, many favourites, but this one is well worth a mention. Guaranteed to relax you and make your day better, this release is made all the more great with the inclusion of Garvey’ Ghost – the dub version of the original album. This was one of the first dub reggae records I came across many years ago, and I still find it an amazing listen now.
Mungo’ Hi-Fi Meets Brother Culture – Self titled (2002)
Forward thinking, bass-heavy reggae. Gives the bottom end a thorough workout without it being dark and too overly dubsteppy. Mungo’ still runs with the positive vibes, which in my opinion is what reggae is all about. A little hard to track down a copy nowadays, but big tunes on here.
Thomas Mapfumo – The Chimurenga Singles (1976-1980)
I was lucky enough to interview “The Lion Of Zimbabwe” a few years back on my radio show Back To Funk on 2SER, and also caught him live while on tour here in Sydney. A massive political and musical figure in Zimbabwe, his music has been banned and he has been imprisoned due to its popular influence in the country. This is uplifting African music with a message, and downright impossible not to dance to. This is the first real African dance music I was exposed to, and it has a special place in my heart.
Pete Rock – Lost & Found: Hip Hop Underground Soul Classics (originally recorded 1995)
Nice and smooth hip-hop from a master producer. These recordings were originally shelved (why? they are so good!). I bought this from a record store years ago – the guy behind the counter said “trust me. You don’ need to listen to this. Just buy it. This is good shit.” It’s a double record release here with two separate albums, but the real gold is with Center Of Attention by INI. Classic.
The Roots – Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995)
The best live hip-hop band I have seen yet, and this album is one of my favourite recordings from the legendary band. Black Thought is a hip-hop treasure, and his words and style are a phenomenon.
KMD – Mr Hood (1991)
This album used to be a much-loved tape (copied from a friend back in the day) that was on rotation in my car until my box of tapes were stolen one night in Redfern. I came across this album again in an isolated shopping mall on the outskirts of Perth, sitting dusty on a rack, and I’m sure it was originally ordered fresh back in the early 90s and lay dormant in that shop for 15 years. It was a jaw-dropping find, and it is still the most fun and playful hip-hop I know, with clever sampling and rapping. This was the group that launched the career of MF Doom, who at the time was known as Zev Love X.
Wynonie Harris – Women Whiskey & Fishtails (1950s)
The great rhythm and blues/jump blues shouter is a standout of the genre. I listen to a lot of blues, swing, country and folk in my downtime, but always love to find the party people in these roots music styles that know how to blast out the dance tunes. This album is a collection of songs loosely dedicated to hard drinking and women (as the title suggests), and makes you feel like getting rowdy. After years of playing urban club and warehouse spaces, or outdoor parties and festivals – the idea of a real hoedown in a dirty old pub or barn is completely romantic to me. Those screamers from the 40s and 50s knew how to party just as good as any of us I bet!
Hugh Masekela – “The Disco Kid’ (Promo Only 12″) (1975)
A very rare one sided 12” promo from 1975, that is one of my favourite Hugh Masekela tracks of all time! Hard to believe this didn’ get wider circulation at all – it’s an excellent blend of afro, disco and funk – and a really great example of the influence disco and funk music had on African artists in the 70s. Hope this gets re-released someday so more people get a chance to hear it!
Panache – “Every Brother Ain’ A Brother’ (1979)
Sampled by DJ Shadow for the Latyrx tune “Lady Don’ Tek No’ – this track was way ahead of its time. The b-side instrumental is the business here – a stripped down electro funk jam with an awesome bassline and funky, funky guitar. The production is right-on the money too, with the drums all sharp and snappy. It’s no wonder “Lady Don’ Tek No’ was such a winning tune for Latyrx!
Meem’ Monsters Don’ Sleep OK is released through Non-Label/Creative Vibes.