Darkest Light: The Best of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band
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Lafayette Afro Rock Band
Darkest Light: The Best of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band
Strut Records (www.strut-records.com)

I hadn't heard of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band before this CD came my way, and in case you're in need of some background as well, here are a few facts: They were Americans based in Paris; they were active during the '70s; they also recorded under the names Ice, Crispy and Co. and Captain Dax and they've had enduring popularity among vinyl collectors and extractors of samples. Putting facts aside, their music is a hell of a lot of fun. It sounds dated, yes, but that's by no means a bad thing. Soul and funk are clear influences, while the "Afro" part of it is evident in how heavily these tunes echo the way certain African popular music of the time was borrowing ideas from guys like James Brown.

Except for a few vocal choruses and interjections, the disc is an instrumental affair loaded with spot-on drums and percussion (including some intriguingly blended talking drum), wah-wah rhythm guitars framed by furiously picked leads, rubbery bass, electric piano, clavinet, abundant brass and reeds and grooves that don't quit until the job is done. The disc's running time is a brimming 78 minutes filled with both extended jams and shorter tracks that have just enough of a pop edge to suggest commercial potential (though interestingly, the nine-minute "There's Time to Change" is the most easygoing cut until it starts to cook toward the end). A dandy cover of Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa" jumps out, but it's the strength of the original material that really shows these guys to be as revolutionary as their namesake and makes you wish there were more bands still making music so scorching. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdroots.com

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CD available from cdroots.com

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