The Official POPS blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bongos, Bongos, Bongos!

Last night while making dinner I threw on Les Baxter's album "Skins! bongo party with Les Baxter", and it hit me, bongos are not just for hippies and drum circles!  The bongo has been incorporated in most musical genres to great success.  Being a fan of the bongo, I believe there can never be to much bongo.  So today while cleaning my house I decided that it would be a most excellent idea to show my appreciation for the bongo. Because the bongo has made my head rock back and fourth, smile from ear to ear, and shake the booty my mother gave me on a number of occasions. This post was the least I could do.  Anyway I'm going to talk about a few of my favorite (bongo heavy) albums in my modest collection.

First off is the record that made me write this actually.
Les Baxter "Skins! bongo party with Les Baxter".  This album is exactly as it advertises, the only thing missing while listening to this album is Les Baxter himself drinking a voodoo cocktail, smoking a cigarette, chilling on your sofa trying to holler at your woman.  Les Baxter has a million or so records, so it can get a bit repetitive if your trying to dig for his stuff.  With that said, this album is one of my favorites by this guy, it absolutely jams!  Bongos all over the place making for a fantastic time!  For anyone who is not familiar with this album or Les Baxter check out the link and hopefully you will feel the same way I do every time I listen to this record.

Jack (Bongo) Burger "...the end on bongos!" This album is another romp of bongo fun!  I mean come on, there is a cover of "Boulevard Of Broken Dream's", and "Miserlou" on this album how not fun can it be?  If you're a fan of Les Baxter, Martin Denny, or Edmundo Ros you will love this album.  The cover is pretty indicative of how most exotica album covers were back in the day, playful yet a little intriguing. How could you look at this cover and not at least give it a listen?  Jack (Bongo) Burger takes you all over the world with this record too, which is really cool.  There are times when you can definitely hear a Cuban influence on this album then you  hear Afro-beat, & even Asian rhythms, all busting out with the bongo.  It's a pretty rad time, but don't just take my word for it check out the link!

 Cymande "Second Time Round"  This album absolutely jams the entire way through from the first track "Anthracite" to the last track "Them And US".  Cymande is a tweleve piece band that hails from London, England. I believe they still play out from time to time which is amazing, to bad I don't live in England though.  Anyway this album is a mesh of rhythm and blues, afro-beat, jazz, Caribbean, and Jamaican musical influences.  It is truly on of those albums everyone should know about.  The songs range from relationship problems, to drug abuse and what can come with it, to social commentary.  I remember the first time I heard this album it pretty much blew my mind. It's one of those albums you listen to with your friends and say things old farts say like "They really don't make music like this anymore".  Thing is though, they don't.  The bongos are all over this album, played by Mike Rose, the way they incorporate the bongos in their songs rule because adding bongos can be dangerous, sometimes it works other times it can really come across a little corny, but this ain't no Dave Matthews Band.  Cymande knows what their doing and are not afraid to share it with you.  But don't just take my word for it give it a listen!


Curtis Mayfield "Curtis/Live" I'm not going to lie, I don't tend to enjoy live records because the recording is usually crap. This is not one of those live recordings.  For real, this is one of my favorite live records, and one of my favorite records in my stash.  I'm sure everyone knows who Curtis Mayfield is so there's no reason to go on about how awesome all his Impressions stuff is or how amazing his solo records are too, because you probably already know this.  The great thing about this record is the back and forth from Curtis Mayfield and the audience. You can tell they are really digging what they are hearing.  How awesome would it have been to be there?  Well this is about as close as you're going to get folks.  Curtis's is playing with a four piece band on this record and on bongos, congas, and tumbas, is Henry Gibson.  Let me tell you, he is serious about some bongos on this recording, it's not surprising though because you know Curtis Mayfield wasn't going to roll with no punks, I'm sure he demanded the best so he got the best.  Check out the link, it's pretty gnarly.

Incredible Bongo Band "Bongo Rock" This is the holy grail of all bongo records folks.  I kid, I kid, but really this album is ridiculously outstanding.  I mean another instance where the cover is not lying to you, when you put this record on your table you're about to hear an Incredible Bongo Band, and they are definitely bringing some Bongo Rock as the title states.  There are no credited artist to be found on this record. All I have been able to find out is Jim Gordon played drums on most of the album and a person going by the name of King Errisson is getting crazy on the bongos.  This record has been sampled tons of times over but you may best know it by the break beat classic "Apache".   The track "Apache" is a hip-hop staple and in some circles is arguably the best b-boy track ever.  It's pretty gangster folks, every time I throw this guy on the table my mind instantly goes to kids killing it on some cardboard or people destroying the roller rink showing off their skills.  From beginning to finish this record rolls, it's a Murphy Winston party favorite to be honest with you.  If you are a fan of the bongo and don't have this album I demand you do yourself a favor and purchase this immediately!  You'll thank me later trust me.  Actually as I'm typing it's pretty hard to sit still because I'm listening to this record, it is that groove to make your booty move.  Oh and the band isn't just bongos either, there is gnarly guitars, a crazy brass section, keys, ect, ect, ect.  This is easily my favorite bongo record but also one of my favorite records of all time, it's so dang funky!   Here are a couple videos from this record, it's to good to only give you one track.


Enough with the ramblings of a slightly mad individual that decided to write about his love for the bongos, but thanks for reading my blather.


Murphy Winston

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