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25 Sep 2016

Africa “Music for Lil Brown” US 1968 Psychedelic Soul Funk

Africa “Music for Lil Brown” US 1968 great Psychedelic Soul Funk
Produced by the great Lou Adler (Mamas & the Papas, Spirit, Carole King) and featuring veteran vocalists Chester Pipkin (also their superb guitarist), Gary Pipkin, Brice Coefield, Ed Wallace and Freddie Wills, this soulful, funky, psych-tinged stew spans originals and covers of contemporary standards, including a mind-blowing, conga-driven “Paint It Black,” and makes its long overdue CD debut here. Includes detailed liner notes. Digitally remastered for superior sound quality. …..
Known to J Dilla disciples for his sampling of “Light My Fire” on Donuts, it was Lil Brown’s title and artwork – an obvious nod to Music From Big Pink – that initially caught my ear a few years back. I suppose all roads do lead to Rome. 

Aside from the title nod, “Lil Brown” is a far cry from Danko/Manuel. In lieu of the fabled West Saugerties, NY rental in which the Band hashed out their opus, here we’re presented with a modest brown garage tucked away in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of south Los Angeles. It was in this garage the members of Africa both conceived and laid down what would constitute their sole (commercially released) album recorded under the collective handle of ‘Africa’. Comprised of seasoned L.A. vocal group veterans, doo-wop and otherwise, Africa’s m.o. wavered between interpretations of, then, contemporary rock covers to soul and funk originals. Incorporating and exploring a wide swath of styles and arrangements (from Latin rhythms and funky hoodoo to traditional R&B and soul flourishes) the album at times feels geographically unplaceable — which is exactly part of it’s enduring charm. Produced by Lou Adler, 1968…..
   There’s some very soulful psychedelia–or is it psychedelic soul–on this slab of vinyl. From the opening of the 1st song (Paint It Back) this is clearly a keeper–the song starts with some Latin percussion (nice set of congas) & a few well placed guitar chords. Then it adds a soulful electric guitar to carry the melody, a bass break, some weird laughing & what sound like a guy popping his mouth with his finger. There are a few vocal snippets (some seem to be in Spanish but I can’t really tell since they’re not all that clear). Later you do get some other vocals that are clearly distinguishable in the mix: some of the nah-nah-nah chorus, a “paint it black” chant, someone singing about being “out of my mind,” a bit of the rest of the chorus (“I see a red door…”), and the some signing (“the old lady sure looks good to me”) that I’m pretty sure belongs to another song (although I can’t recall the name of it at the moment). Really though it’s the instruments that carry the song–all very laid back and hip and both soulful and trippy. The rest of the record doesn’t disappoint although Paint it Black remains my favorite track. You also get covers of Light my Fire and a Louie-Louie/Ode to Billy Joe medley that really hits the spot. Some cool orginals as well: a soulful Here I Stand & the funky Widow. Throughout there’s plenty of cool rhythm breaks and some fine guitar work….. 

Although performed by former members of the Los Angeles doo wop group the Valiants, produced by Lou Adler and titled in response to the Band’s classic Music from Big Pink, Africa’s Music from “Lil Brown” defies its pedigree by delivering Latin-tinged psychedelic soul covers of some of the era’s biggest pop hits.
Credit all involved with pushing and pulling these familiar songs to their breaking points. Africa’s instrumental renditions of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black” and the Doors’ “Light My Fire” significantly expand upon the psychedelic elements of the originals, and even more unlikely fare like “Louie, Louie” and “Ode to Billie Joe” also proves surprisingly ripe for lysergic interpretation.
Equally noteworthy is the relentless conga drumming that galvanizes virtually every cut, excellent, imaginative stuff. ….
Paint It Black 7:35 
Light My Fire 4:37 
Here I Stand 4:17 
Louie, Louie / Ode to Billie Joe 5:40 
Widow 4:04 
Savin’ All My Love 3:03 
You Take Advantage of Me 3:44

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..