Earl Rodney Friends And Countrymen

The second in Japanese label EM Records’ "Steelpan series” (yes, it’s a whole series, aren’t reissues great?), Earl Rodney’s debut album is a different concept than the Steel An’ Skin reissue from early in the year. Rodney recorded this disc in New York in 1973 and it’s very much in a Mandrill/Osibisa mode, except with steel pan where Santana-esque guitar would normally be. Actually, it’s even more stripped down than that, given that this project likely had a fraction of the budget commanded by those two major label groups. There is just a touch of dissonance among the frenetic congas, hi-hat-heavy kit drum work and non-stop bass vamping. Evocative titles like "Strife In The Village” give a clue to the imagery and mood of these tunes. The vocals are more ghostly than dominant, which creates a cool, spacey feel. Had this not been reissued by EM it would be a first-rate inclusion on Strut. (EM)