Earl Rodney Friends and Countrymen
XLR8R Rating: 8/10
Billed as the first solo album from a steel pan player, this vintage nugget from ’73 is probably better described as Trinidadian rare groove. The bubbly sounds commonly associated with Calypso and Soca are evident, as is a ’70s island tribal-funk vibe, with Rodney’s alto pan accompanied by horns, whistles, African drums, electric bass, melodic guitar runs, and vocal chants. The mostly uptempo, highly celebratory material comes as somewhat of an unheralded revelation, connecting the Caribbean Diaspora with its African roots in a creative, original way. Flavorful like fresh mangoes, tracks like “Juck Juck” and “Midnight Man” have gro-o-ooves for days. Intoxicating as a tall glass of aged Trini rum on a hot day, Friends and Countrymen pans out quite excellently.