Various Thai Beat A Go Go Volume 3

Subtitled "More Groovy Sounds from the Land of Smile,” one imagines a Simpsons fantasy sequence involving Cheshire Cat-like grins… The music bears this out; it’s fun, funky and lightweight. The opener is one of the year’s standout reissued tracks. "Thai Boxing” has all its Thaisploitation elements on display: Bernard Purdie drums, Isaac Hayes horn arrangements, and a wicked 16-bar break of bamboo reeds all incorporated into praise of the Thai fighting style. Elsewhere you’ll hear fresh versions of "Hang On Sloopy,” "Evil Ways,” "Heartbreak Hotel” and, not exactly hitting the same standard, "Muhammad Ali — the Black Superman.” The later tracks are heavy on Moog-led disco instrumentals which work up quite a froth. Beyond the obvious fun are some thought-provoking questions. Apparently this music was popular in hotels and clubs, capitalising on the market of U.S. GIs on leave from Vietnam. These are bang-on covers played in much the same way as their U.S. counterparts — is it merely imitation? If so, why is it so good? How and why did the average band learn how to play these songs so exactly where other countries, such as Jamaica, Ethiopia and Ghana, fused more indigenous ingredients into their soul stews? As one analyses the finer points of the moog-strumental of the Bee Gees "You Should Be Dancing,” these questions drift off to the land of smile... (Subliminal Sounds)