AFRICA

RnB / Latin Rock/Soul • United States
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Africa consisted of doo-wop veterans Brice Coefield, Gary Pipkin, Chester Pipkin, Ed Wallace, and Freddie Wills. According to Marv Goldberg, certain members of this aggregation had already performed together in vocal groups such as the Sabres, the Valiants, the Untouchables, the Electras, and the Alley Cats in the 1950s and the earlier years of the following decade. During this time, they rubbed elbows with producers Phil Spector, and more importantly, Lou Adler...

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AFRICA Music From 4.00 | 2 ratings
Music From "Lil Brown"
Latin Rock/Soul 1968
AFRICA Africa album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Africa
RnB 1975

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AFRICA Music From "Lil Brown"

Album · 1968 · Latin Rock/Soul
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js
If you are wondering how this album got its odd name, the album title “Music from ‘Lil Brown’” is a satire on the very popular album by The Band, “Music from Big Pink”. In this case the members of Africa didn’t have a big pink house to record in, just a lil brown shed in someone’s backyard in a locale that is quite clearly in Southern California. Given the price of real estate in California, they were probably lucky to have the ‘lil’ shed. This album is classic late 60s southern Cali psychedelic garage soul/rock with the expected Latin rock influences and is highly sought after by collector‘s of such things. Apparently these guys had been around since the 50s as a doo-wop group and then somewhere along the way added psychedelic guitar, tons of African and Latin percussion, a monster reverb unit and other groovy 60s type trappings.

The music on here is classic south-central LA melting pot music with bits of soul, Latin rock and California psychedelia, in a mix that is somewhat similar to the music that WAR would ride to fame after Africa disappeared from the scene. Being that this came out in 68, its to be expected that Africa does not sound near as polished as later bands in this style. Despite this album’s Latin/African leanings, the raw garage-ish nature of this album gives it something in common with early Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, the first two Funkadelic albums or countless other psychedelic garage bands all around the world at that time. Of course the arrangements are loose and exact tuning is not a priority, but all of this just adds to this album’s charm. Often Africa will use simple repeating riffs with free ensemble improvisations making them the Los Angelas answer to the 60s German experimental bands known as "krautrock".

Many of the tunes on “Lil Brown” are covers of well-known late 60s classics such as “Light my Fire” and “Paint it Black”, but they don’t play these songs as much as use their melodic material for repeating chants and loose improvisations sometimes interrupted by choir like interludes that sound like a cross between doo-wop and the Moody Blues. Their version of “Louie Louie” returns the song to its hip Carribean groove as originally intended by Chuck Berry, successfully rescuing the song from the awful and unfortunately popular Kingsmen version. As the chords to Louie repeat, the singer goes into a funny exaggerated and totally unexpected reading of “Ode to Billie Joe”, a southern US melodrama that takes place in a culture that is about as far from south/central LA as you can get. Its this kind of oddball creativity that makes this album so sought after. I don’t mean to boast, but I found my copy of this album in a thrift store in surprisingly good shape, the low-fi album art helped it stay concealed amongst the piles of Elton John, Judy Collins and Seals and Crofts.

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