on Long Island, matured in the Barbés district
of Paris, and possessed of an amorphous, pan-African funk vibe, the Lafayette
Afro-Rock Band was a quintessential faux-world music group. Both completely
inauthentic and totally natural, Lafayette had
less in common with Fela than with the post-exotica movement of London studio creations
like Mandingo or the many anonymous Italians creating funky for-hire library
music in the ’60s.
a certain imitative stiffness to the group’s music, which doesn’t make for the
funkiest experience, but as any experienced crate-digger will attest, it does
make for some mighty fine sampling. Accordingly, the majority of songs on this
collection of LARB’s early ’70s material (both under their main banner and
under several different names as well) will sound instantly familiar, due to
the recognition of a horn line or drum break from any number of hip-hop songs.
Unfortunately, only a handful of Lafayette’s songs hold up as standalone jams;
the ultra-greasy “Soul Frankenstein” (recorded under the name Captain
Dax) and the culturally overextended horns-and-djembe groove of “Heels &
Soles” are both fantastic, while a cover of “Soul Makossa” turns
Manu Dibango’s classic into a grinding bit of homage.
of the rest of the material here is pleasant and faintly evocative of prime
Afro-funk, but don’t mistake it for the real thing.
Standout Tracks: “Soul Frankenstein,”
“Heels & Soles” JASON FERGUSON