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Soul Explosion

The Daktaris

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Album Review

The Daktaris' 1998 debut, Soul Explosion, is dedicated to the memory of Fela Kuti, who pretty much single-handedly invented Afro-beat. The Daktaris are clearly influenced by Fela's signature style, mixing jazz and funk riffs with the hypnotic rhythms of his native Nigeria, but their groove-oriented music is much more accessible to the novice listener than Fela's occasionally fearsome soul stew. Where Fela was heavily influenced by both psychedelia and free jazz, the Daktaris are more like the Kool & the Gang (circa "Jungle Boogie") of Afro-beat: their music is deeply, undeniably funky, but the concise song lengths and well-structured solos keep the players in check. This is exotic music, but it's in no way difficult; anyone who loves Mothership Connection or One Nation Under a Groove will have no trouble with the slinky rhythms of the two-part "Musicawa Slitâ" or the respectful cover of James Brown's "Give It up Turn It Loose." Those already familiar with Afro-beat might find Soul Explosion a little tame, but it's an excellent introduction to the style.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic fakery

The Daktaris are a fantastic afrobeat band I discovered through Their only album, Soul Explosion, was recorded in 1998, but packaged to resemble a long lost afrobeat gem from the 70's. 'Eltsuhg Ibal Lasiti' gives the game away: backwards it reads 'It is all a big hustle'. The band were actually The Soul Providers, the Desco label's house band, who had assumed Nigerian aliases for the ruse. The quality of the music shines above all this tomfoolery; trance-inducing rhythms, chanted vocals and really, really funky guitar. The band are tight, the percussion is excellent, and what really comes across is simply the sound of a band having fun in the studio. The joke authenticity of the cover and band name is understandable; this music could have easily come from Fela's land and time. Several members of the band went on to form the superb Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, who are also well worth checking out.


Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s

The Daktaris were an Afro-beat group on the New York-based funk revival label Desco, recording compact, Fela Kuti-style grooves that sounded as though they'd come straight out of 1970s Nigeria. At first, Desco did nothing to discourage that perception, packaging their 1998 album Soul Explosion to look like an authentically African collector's dream, and even giving some of the band members Nigerian aliases. But in reality, the Daktaris were Brooklyn-based studio musicians, many of them white, many...
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Soul Explosion, The Daktaris
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