You probably know The Daptone record label from performers like Sharon Jones, who has been a huge success for the label. Daptone has a history of releasing some killer funk and soul records that really capture the vintage sound of soul music from the late 60s and early 70s. Jones has a classic vintage sound — even though her first full album was recorded less than a decade ago.
Then there’s Charles Bradley. He was born in 1948, but released his first album just last year. He’d been doing a James Brown routine using a broom handle as a mic for decades. But after years of hardship, dead-end jobs and the shooting death of his brother, a Daptone producer saw him perform and recognized his raw talent. Bradley’s 2011 album No Time for Dreaming was one of my favourite albums of last summer.
So when I saw a recent release from Daptone called El Rego, featuring a West African musician, I thought the label had once again discovered a raw, undeveloped talent. But the truth is quite different.
El Rego was a star in West Africa back in the 60s and 70s before disappearing from the scene. Until, that is, DJ Frank Gossner rediscovered El Rego’s music while living in West Africa, digging up rare funk 45s. The Daptone disc is a reissue of twelve of El Rego’s best singles, compiled by Gossner and remastered from the original vinyl.
Watch El Rego’s stunned reaction when Gossner visits him at home, and plays El Rego’s own music for him — vintage records, some from more than 40 years ago. And watch El Rego’s disbelief when Gossner tells him that kids all over the world are dancing to his music.
Here’s a little more background on El Rego, in case you dug that as much as I do. Theophile Do Rego (also known as El Rego) was born in 1938 in what is now Benin. He spent his formative years in Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso. After Benin gained its independence, El Rego returned to his homeland, and formed El Rego et Ses Commandos. It was 1966, and American Soul was huge in West Africa, so it’s not surprising that El Rego and His Commandos played James Brown and Otis Redding covers.
El Rego’s shrieks, grunts and wails are reminiscent of the Godfather, though on some songs the Afro-funk groove of Fela Kuti is clearly recognizable. Other songs smolder with El Rego’s bluesy moan. The music is unique, authentic and great for dancing.
Bonus: Check out this Afro-funk party groove (not included on the Daptone disc)
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on Feb 06, 2012