Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats

Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats – Heavy Heavy Heavy

Geraldo Pino

Lately, the music trail I’ve been wandering down leans heavily towards rhythm for some reason.  After years of wandering with my preference for melody, this year I’ve been guided towards the other end of the spectrum.  Don’t get me wrong, just this weekend I marvelled at the perfection that is “Odessey & Oracle” by the Zombies for the thousandth time.  But I know I’ll listen to that a thousand more times, so for now, it’s on to another path.  Maybe it was seeing Mamar Kassey at a festival a couple of years ago that started it?  I thought I was witnessing the very familiar ideals of two of my favorite, hereto now disparate, genres: mid 70’s English prog and 70’s American funk.  Isn’t this what King Crimson was trying to do in the 80’s?  So, after further reinforcement from some live Afrobeat shows which proved to add a third of my favorites, jazz, I was hooked, soaking up the rest of the Fela Kuti catalog and wandering on from there…  Now, isn’t it considered regression to proceed from the bliss of a strange Beatles chord change, the dissonant counterpoint of Gentle Giant, or the symphonies of Brian Wilson to music that , for the most part, subverts melody and turns every instrument into percussion and repetition?  Maybe I’m becoming dull in my old age.  I recently read an interview with Alice Coltrane where she’s discussing John’s later musical work involving the “higher principles of rhythmic structure and repetition”, and it struck me that many of the greatest musicians took this similar journey.  Am I inadvertently doing the same?  Miles Davis abandoned melody.  Sun Ra became obsessed with texture and rhythm at the expense of melody.  Even the Beatles discovered drone in India.  So, maybe my little trip to West Africa is not so backward. 

Anyway.  Wow, this makes you sweat just listening.  Singer, guitarist and bandleader Geraldo Pino, from Sierra Leone, was one of the pioneers of the early soul/funk/Afrobeat movement in West Africa.  He was a huge influence on Fela Kuti.  Fela spent a large part of the 60’s avoiding touring in places where Pino had been because “after Pino came through and tore up the scene, there wasn’t nothing I could do.”  This music was recorded between ’62 and ’67 and was largely unheard by anyone since.  Great old analog keyboards, funky polyrhythms, and super tight guitar work, makes you wonder how much great stuff is out of print…