Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mandrill - Ape Is High (1972)

This here's a record I had been meaning to listen to for a while before it finally landed on my turntable this morning - Mandrill Is, the second LP by Mandrill, which dropped in early 1972. And when the needle hit the groove, the very first track hit me with an eargasmic blast of funk. By the time it was over, I had a mad smile on my face and my day was off to a great start.

And the rest of the album was dope, too, especially tracks like I Refuse To Smile and the closer, The Sun Must Go Down, which sounds like a missing Strawberry Alarm Clock track off Z-man's party mix from Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. I first discovered Mandrill thanks to DJ Bro Rabb, aka Phil Bell, who gave me a mixtape about 15 years back that I think had their first LP on one side, and a classic Detroit Emeralds album on the other. Originally formed in Brooklyn in 1968, the band's nucleus were the Panama-born Wilson brothers (Carlos, Lou, and Ric). In a 2012 interview given shortly before Lou Wilson's January, 2013 death, he and Ric described the origins of their polyglot funk sound as the "melting pot" of music from all corners of the world that the brothers heard while growing up in Panama. I never knew that Mandrill contributed a track to The Warriors soundtrack, which is a joint for another day, since I just scored that record at a yard sale last month.

A German pressing, this particular copy of Mandrill Is came from a antiques mall in Rhode Island I visited earlier this year. Convinced dude at the counter to sell it to me for two or three bucks, because it was a little scratched. It does skip on one totally out-there track, Universal Rhythms, which is too bad, because that particular track showed Mandrill was onto some meaning of life shit as they broke down the rhythms of the universe, all explained by the Enchanting Wizard of Rhythm. But I was still able to decipher the track's central message, a timeless reminder for us all - "Higher levels of consciousness demand rhythms of peacefulness."

- Dyn-O-Mite

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