The hit was a one-off, a fluke, but what a boon. It has had a steady life in the whisperings of DJs for the past three-plus decades and is oft-sampled in both dance music and hip-hop circles. As an album, Jungle Fever is a revelation. While their single is the stuff of legend, the album in some ways places it in its rightful place at the end of the disc. Dusty Groove, with their impeccable good taste as both a record store and as a label, reissued this baby on CD and let the rest of us in on the secret. This is one wild, unusual, infectious set of Latin funk with killer horns that play against the rhythms, in some cases, and vocals that seemingly come from Latin music's past and are at odds with the more contemporary grooves being laid down by the band. According to the liners, this is because of Will Albimoor, the group's arranger and new composer (mostly under the nom de plume Bill Ador). Though some songs remain from the Gomez repertoire, they have been radically altered in terms of contrapuntal polyrhythms, strange key signatures, and weird fills by the horns, vocals, and piano. And there are mad loads of drums; they are everywhere, breaking, slipping, twisting, turning, spiking and hovering about these tunes. Checkout "Un Rayo del Sol," for the great drum breaks, or the smooth vocals with the razor wire electric guitars and horns in "Cha Ka Cha," with Sergio Mendes
like choruses blended with weird Latin soul cadences.
"Yo Soy Cubano," is as pure a rhumba as one is likely to hear anywhere -- until the choruses -- and one hears the odd harmonic structure written in between the guitar and piano. Then there's the tough, barroom cha cha of "Ay Mulata" and the seamless, nearly psychedelic mambo-meets-samba that is "El Canyon Rojo," with bits and pieces of a spaghetti western soundtrack thrown in just to stretch the listener's brain a little further. This disc is not some insider avant-garde joke; there is no irony here. The playing is sincere, innovative, and breaks an intentional sweat. It's no academic exercise made by studio hacks. It's as accessible an early Latin-styled funk recording as one is likely to find. It's only after repeated listens that the quark strangeness in its mix sets in, but that doesn't detract from the listening -- and dancing -- experience. There is also a beautiful cha cha reading of Earle Hagen's classic standard "Harlem Nocturne" with a funky bassline and tight guitar break. Here again, the horns' contrapuntal arrangement adds an even deeper element of mystery to the well-known noir-ish tune, while keeping it firmly in a danceable groove, especially in the middle eight. When one gets to the title track at the end, it's almost superfluous; the set is so delightfully, joyous, sophisticated and hip, "Jungle Fever" is just some naughty, nasty, icing on this exotic cake. As an album, Jungle Fever is singular, not only for its origins, but also for its achievement as music. Its endurance is well-deserved: this is a finger-popping, hip-twitching classic
Chakachas - Un Rayo del Sol
Chakachas - Yo Soy Cubano
Chakachas - El Rico Son
By Electric Looser