30. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey - Echos Hypnotiques, Vol. 2
While last year’s collection of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou work, From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979, dug deep into the group’s rare gems, this collection comes from sessions that they did at the E.M.I. studio in Nigeria. The result? Better sound quality and more great music from the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. Their blend of Highlife, Funk and the Vodoun rhythms that come from their native country of Benin separate this album from the pack of retro-African releases that have been coming out this year.
29. Moncho Rivera - Yo Tengo Lo Mio
In Salsa music, there is nothing better than a great Sonero, a singer who is able to improvise off the top of the dome and give their musicians a run for their money. Moncho Rivera is the nephew of another great Sonero, Ismael Rivera, and continues a family tradition of singers who just destroy their contemporaries. Moncho and his band are red hot on this release, which is one of the few highlights in the Salsa music world this year.
28. V/A - Sensacional Soul Vol 2
I always felt that the best music ever made was during the worst of times. During the oppressive Franco era, conservative radio stations and record companies did not want to explore the Psychedelic movement. However, Motown was big in Spain and all the groups that emulated The Beatles started to get a little soul in them, often incorporating horn and foreign soul vocalists. Sensacional Soul Vol. 2 is a fine mixture of cover songs sung in Spanish and funky instrumentals with plenty of beat influences guaranteed to liven any dance floor.
27. Mahssa - Oyun Havasi! Volume 1
This is a mix CD by Amoeba Hollywood’s very own Mahssa Taghinia. This tasty treat of Turkish, Persian and Arabic Psyche rockers could serve as a guide to explore the many gems hidden in Amoeba Hollywood’s Middle Eastern section. Only drawback to the mix CD is there is no track list. So if you love the sound of Turkish Rock and Iranian Psychedelic Folk, one has to dig, just like Mahssa has. No cheating allowed!
26. Hoseh - Poppy Sol
If you read my blog on a regular basis, you’ll know I’m a fan of the deejays from Mas Exitos. One of their resident deejays, Hoseh, has a weekly radio show on KXLU 88.9 in Los Angeles called Headspace, which plays minimalist techno and experimental electronic music. However, for this mix CD, Hoseh breaks out his extensive collection of Latin America music rarities and obscure tracks from known artists. In Hoseh's world, records from Latin Pop icons Juan Gabriel and Jose Jose can share head space with rarities by Marquez and Tempo 70. Overall, the mixture of Latin Pop, Psychedelia and Soul makes for a better world to live in.
25. V/A - Bersa Discos Vol. 5& 6
Bersa Discos kept pumping out the twelve-inch singles this year, with Volumes Five and Six being some of their very best. Toy Selectah made his long awaited debut on wax and cranked some of his best Electro-Cumbia, and Raverton remixes. Soon Toy will be a household name for sure. On Volume Six, Sabo, known from his Sol Selecta series, steps into new territory with his own Cumbia remixes and comes out sounding like he’s been doing it for years. Two of my dance floor favorites for sure.
24. V/A - Merengue Urbano Vol.1
Merengue Urbano is one of those genres that is completely lost on you if you are not a fan of the following music: Merengue, Bachata, Reggaeton and modern R&B & Rap. The infectious 150 plus BPM’s of Merengue is mixed with auto-tuned crooners and big Reggaeton beats. This is the compilation that introduced me to El Sujeto “Con Cotorra No” and Omega y Su Mambo Violento, “Si No Me Ama,” which I have been bumpin’ at many spots I have played at this year. Certain to bum out the hipsters but will be sure to get all the gente up and dancing…trust me, I know from experience.
23. V/A - Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91
Unlike Soundways' previous two Ghana Soundz collections,Ghana Special...is less western funk and more pure African rhythms, focusing on what the title suggests. There are many standout tracks on Ghana Special, such as Kyeremateng Atwede & The Kyeremateng Stars' “I Go Die For You,” a gem of a song if it were made in any country or played in any style. May I suggest getting the vinyl version, which has five LPs, bonus songs not on the CD, and a 44-page booklet with plenty of artwork and history to thumb through?
22. V/A - Si Para Usted Vol. 2
There are many golden ages of Cuban Music. One that hasn’t garnered much attention until recently was the Cuban progressive movement of the late sixties/early seventies. Even those who are Anti-Castro and loathe socialism cannot deny the monster musicians that came out of the Cuban music schools during that era. The second volume of the Si Para Usted series showcases young and veteran Cuban musicians alike who were creating some amazing jams. The result was high-octane Cuban music melded with rock, Funk, Afro-Beat and Samba played by some of the best musicians around the world.
21. V/A - Black Rio Vol.2
The first Black Rio is one of my favorite compilations ever. Back when it was released in 2002, it opened my ears to a funky era of Brazilian music that was somewhat unknown to me. It was something that I would suggest to all my friends but soon went out of print overnight. Copies of the CD and LP are now highly sought collector's items. So when I heard there was a Volume Two, needless to say, I was excited. Once again DJ Cliffy from London’s bi-monthly Brazilian night Batmacumba dug deep and found some gems from an era that some Brazilians give no props to because it is not a “pure’ Brazilian music. However, within the funk you can hear plenty of Samba and Bossa Nova rhythms that make this series undeniably Brazilian. My personal favorite on Black Rio 2 is great cover of Gilberto Gil's ‘Bananeira’ by Emilio Santiago, a perfect combination of funky soul and Samba with a classic break beat intro.