CYMANDE – THE SOUL OF RASTA
Intro to CYMANDE -"THE SOUL OF RASTA"
The moniker of the Soul-Patrol.com website is "GREAT BLACK MUSIC FROM THE ANCIENT TO THE FUTURE"
I can think of no other FUNK artist besides Mandrill who fits that term so precisely!
The music of CYMANDE sounded both OLD and NEW at the same time back in the 1970’s and that statement is just as true today.
This is one of my all time favorite FUNK artists from back in the 1970’s.
A true "fusion" band that incorporated many different styles in their music, but always had an underlying message of "rasta/hippie philosophy" Check it out….
CYMANDE, pronounced (Sah-mahn-day), released three LPs under the Chess Records Janus subsidiary from 1972 – 1974. This reissue is a "best of’ anthology of those albums, and it’s compiled by Newhouse Records located in Oakland California
CYMANDE is the most underrated overly sampled band in the world. The band CYMANDE consisted of eight rastafarian musicians who played a dazzling mixture of FUNK, SOUL, REGGAE and JAZZ. The members of CYMANDE migrated to England from the West Indies at a young age. The resulting music they created is invigorating and lyrically positive. The name CYMANDE means "dove of peace" and most of the band’s messages are uplifting and reminiscent of of a time when FUNK wasn’t just music, it was also a MOVEMENT
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HERE IS MY Track by Track Review of CYMANDE -"THE SOUL OF RASTA"
1. BROTHERS ON THE SIDE
This song sounds like it could have appeared on the SUPERFLY soundtrack. Lots of Curtis Mayfield type influences here. Nice funky tune to start off the CD
This song is a NYC (and probably world wide) phenomena. Even if you don’t know the name "Cymande" or even the title of the song, if you have ever been out on a dance floor at any point in time over the past 30 years or so, you know this song like you know the back of your hand. Even if you are under the age of 30, the legendary bass line of this song has been sampled many times over and you have heard it! And if you have ever heard it, you have NO DOUBT taken a spin around the dance floor off of it. The beat is infectious. What’s the song about? (who knows? .who cares?) It’s one of the 10 best FUNK JAMS of all time (and that’s all anyone needs to know about the song BRA)
3. THE MESSAGE
Now this song has got a beat that won’t quit. Bass, guitar, drums and horn section all hittin it on the "ONE" in a way like nobody else (except for Mandrill) can do. These are the sounds of Mother Africa calling out to you to return there, even if only in the eye of your mind. Oh but there is soooo much more to this song than just a never ending FUNKY GROOVE that sounds like Africa transported to the corner of Fulton Street and Franklin Ave. in Bed-Sty in the summer of 1973. This is a song with a serious "message", calling out (perhaps even begging) for UNITY among the African peoples of the world regardless of what continent they happen to be living in
You want some crusing music? Do you like FUNKY Saxophone riffs a’ la LONNIE YOUNGBLOOD? Well look no further than "FUG". Hell yeah, you could put this song on an 8-track tape and loop it over and over again, slap it into your car’s 8-track player for the ultimate music in driving around the city streets. However this song isn’t just a nice driving groove, it’s an AFROCENTRIC FUNK BOMB (a’ la Mandrill) that seeks to raise your consciousness as it makes you tap your feet
Ahhhhhhh ."Listen brotha’s this has got a LOT to do with you and mah SISTA’S this also does concern you too " and so it begins. This song is a slow burning funk groove that intends to reach the inner recesses of your mind and cause you to question if YOU may indeed be a "part of the problem", if you choose not to "ACT NOW"
I know that "bass and drum" has become a popular variation of "acid jazz", perhaps the genesis of that style is based on this song?
This song may be one of my personal all time top 10 "chill out" songs (It’s in the same category as Kool & the Gang – Summer Maddness). "DOVE" is an instrumental, checking in at nearly 11 minutes features a "Carlos Santana type guitar", a "Billy Cox like bass" a flute solo that sounds like it’s being played by a bird and congas that sound like what tribal members might play just before going off to war, yet are hoping for peace. This song is one of the most blissful and soothing songs that you would ever want to hear and it’s a candidate to be put into a continuous loop on an 8-track tape. However, this wouldn’t be a tape that you would use for driving, it would be way too hypnotic and you might not pay attention to the road. This is a tape that you would use at 3 am, for "indoor activities" .
8. WILLY’S HEADACHE
This thing somehow manages to sound like Africa and the Bronx (circa 1967) at the same time. The message here is one of awareness, both personal and worldly. The flute solo here is certainly "Latin influenced’ and overall the song sounds similar to something out of the CTI or GRP catalog
9. GETTING IT BACK
Once I used to be high " this is a song about personal depression. "People I guess I’m going down, down, down and I feel I’m gonna drown ." I’m not really what the point of it is, however this is some STANK NASTY FUNK if I ever heard it. I can remember back in the day in my dorm room, with "incense and black light burning" scratching my album up off of this song, rushing to move the tone arm back to the exact point where that SUPER NASTY sax break appears
10. ONE MORE
This is another instrumental that is in a similar vein to "DOVE", just shorter
The sax player here reminds me of Carlos Garnett of the Miles Davis Band, congas and flute players in full effect. Some of you may recall a funk band during the 70’s called the "Layfyette Afro Rock Band". This song is in a similar vein
12. EQUITORIAL FOREST
Willie Hutch/Curtis Mayfield type FUNK grooves here
13. FOR BABY OOH
Just a conga and "doo wop style group harmony". Did you like the album "Graceland" by Paul Simon? (I have a feeling that Paul Simon may just have checked out a few Cymande albums)
If after reading this review you decide to pick up on this, Amazon has got it.
Click here to go directly there
— Bob Davis