Panama! Latin, Calypso and Funk on the Isthmus 1965​-​75

by Various Artists

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A fly-blown buffer zone between North and South America, Panama barely registers on the international cultural radar. Indeed, its one significant musical export, the loping cumbia rhythm, is generally associated with Colombia. Yet these grainy ’60s and ’70s recordings by bands you will absolutely never have heard of constitute one of the year’s most exhilarating listens so far.

The sheer heat generated by blasting salsa instrumentals such as Los Exagerados’s Panama estra bueno y ma makes most modern recordings seem pitifully tight and sterile by comparison. There’s an all-or-nothing fervour of the kind that can only be achieved through live, one-take recording – a relentless, super-fast piano figure providing a springboard for brass solos of truly nerve-jangling intensity.

The tempos settle slightly as the music reflects the influence of American funk and Trinidadian calypso. Victor Boa’s Soy Solo Para Ti has a glorious, quasi-African piano swing, while Bolito y Su Tentacion’s incandescent jam Descarga Tentacion has the feel of ’70s Latin New York at its most sophisticated. A plinking salsa-flavoured calypso, sung by one Lord Cobra, completes this revelatory album.
-Mark Hudson

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released April 1, 2006

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Soundway Records UK

"Simply put, England's Soundway label equals quality. " Pitchfork

Founded in 2002 by English DJ and Producer Miles Cleret, Soundway Records has released a number of critically acclaimed compilation albums and re-issues of African, Caribbean, Latin and Asian music from the 1950s-80s.

Since 2012, the label has also begun to issue original contemporary releases from around the world.
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