Not every track has aged brilliantly but there's gold in these grooves all the same
Africa Seven serve up a new 'best of' compilation from Cameroonian disco artist Jo Bisso, whose 1976 debut album Dance To It was reissued by the same label a few years ago.
The first thing that's notable about African Disco Experimentals is how varied it is. Tracks range from the squelchy Blaxploitation funk of Give It Up to the girly-vocalled The Mystery With Me, with its sweeping strings and air of crushed velvet tuxedos and shiny floor-length gowns, and from the full-pelt tribal drum extravaganza that is Love Beat to the sultry soul of Tonight and the vaguely west coast-ish Let's Keep It Together – you're certainly unlikely to get bored.
The other thing that's immediately notable is that, bar the aforesaid Love Beat and Flying To The Land Of Soul, not many of the tracks sound all that… well, African. But then they weren't made there: the five original albums from which these tracks are culled were recorded in France and America – and aimed largely at European and American markets. So we're definitely closer to Chic or Brass Construction than we are to, say, Osibisa or Manu Dibango.
The upshot of this, though, is that African Disco Experimentals is an album that will appeal at least as much, if not more, to straight-up disco dollies as it will to earnest "global music" types. As we said at the start, there are one or two tracks that haven't aged that well, but there's still much to enjoy here – the breathy Your Love is worth the price of admission on its own.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 13 November
Review Score: 8