"Whoa, wait a minute!," you may be saying, "Balkan reggae??? Have you been dipping into the gange again, Tucker?". But no, I haven't, not for many a year; I swear, I've been a good boy…well, kinda…nor have I been stickin' my beak into that good ol' Jamaican rum (geez, any more lies, and I'll be a Republican!), and, no again, I ain't ribbin' ya, this is indeed Jamaican rock from Europe's Balkans, originally set up by Romania's Mahal Rai Banda, now remixed by Caribbean-inspired mad cats and evolved into a whole 'nother set of hot grooves anydamnone can shake their thang to: rocker, jazzbo, Rasta, World music lover, you name it—you got a booty, it'll be in a tizzy. Hell, even Lawrence Welk'd get behind this, asking "Am I crazy from the grave, or is there not polka, gypsy, and klezmer in all those phat numbers?". There is indeed, Big Larry, and get that bubble machine revved up 'cause you're gonna need it, my friend.
I could never work up all that much enthusiasm for, say, Jah Wobble ('cept when he crafted the cool-ass Snake Charmer release with U2's The Edge & Holgar Czukay) or that ilk of cat, but this is a hi-energy cross between a crazed Putamayo anthology and progjazz experimentation, sometimes stripped down and mechanical echoey (the Mad Professor cut), other times lush as all get out. Unfortunately, it's only 33:26, a little skimpy admittedly, but whew!, there's so much packed into the half-hour-plus. Picture PeeWee's Playhouse with Cowboy Curtis and The King of Cartoons after a long vacation in the Caribbean, now returned to light up the crash pad with stutter-step island rhythms and balmy atmospherics amid happily encanting dancing celebrants. Heck, Greg Fabulous even conjures up more than a little of dreadlocked Cab Calloway hoppin' 'n boppin' at the Copa…in Bucharest, that is. Now there's a pictre to hang on the wall!
Mahala Rai Banda as remixed by:
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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