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Eye of the Spectre LP

In his original Tampa records biography, Chaino (and let's step back and allow that name to settle in for a few moments) is described as being an orphan from a lost central African tribe who was rescued by missionaries after his whole family was massacred. In fact, Chaino was a Chicago-born bongo player called Leon Johnson who, by the time this LP was released, was 30 years old and had a decent career working the black nightclub circuit. Kirby Allan, meanwhile, had enjoyed his own career as a nightclub singer, but his love of exotic music had led him to record some of the ceremonial drumming he'd heard while traveling through Africa's Gold Coast. Together Johnson and Allan would record a string of instrumental records often at LA's legendary Gold Star Studios that blended stripped-back percussion with grunts and howls, cries and moans. The burgeoning hi-fi market lapped this stuff up and that same, insatiable enthusiasm for very un-American music meant that no less than eight Chaino LPs would appear on various labels in 1958 alone. One contemporary Billboard review notes the artist's "blood-curdling whoops" and, to this day, the energy just soars out of these recordings. The eyebrow-raising titles and covers clearly mark these as period pieces, but those rolling, syncopated conga fills on Bongo Semba, or the complex crisscrossing rhythms in Bim-Boo, carry as much delicious, propulsive power as they ever did.
-- The Guardian
item # 39722
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