A welcome re-issue for afrobeat’s progenitor

Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats

Heavy heavy heavy (RetroAfric Retro20CD, 2005)

In afrobeat circles the real cognoscenti have long regarded two albums as classics of their time. These releases, Let’s Have a Party and Afro-Soco Soul Live, have been out of circulation for so long that most people won’t have even heard of their creator, one Geraldo Pino, so it’s welcome re-issue time courtesy of those excellent RetroAfric’ boys.Pino (originally Gerald Pine, he adopted the more exotic moniker when his group, The Heartbeats, made a brief foray into latin music) had been fronting his band in Freetown, Sierra Leone, since the very beginning of the 1960s and he’d run the gamut of musical styles from pop to pachanga, rock to rumba with a large measure of hometown success. He eventually hit on his most winning formula – a version of US funk & R&B of the mid-60s, taking the sound and injecting a powerful African ingredient – namely a potent percussive base. His lyrics reflected the militant stance of African Americans of the period and immediately his music began to cross national boundaries. The move led to what many perceive as the birth of afrobeat, influencing in no small way a young, music-mad
Ransome Kuti
who was to go on, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, to make afrobeat a household word in areas far removed from West Africa.

The instant appeal of Pino’s sound comes from that most funky of instruments, the Hammond B3, an organ made popular in the US by the likes of Jimmy Smith and Booker T & the MGs. Geraldo’s rasping, driven vocal style also packs a punch and the relentless, rumbling drum & bass, coupled with some sweet, sweet funky guitar, completes the picture. Here, then, are 12 ultra-danceable, floor-filling gems of an audio quality you’d not think possible from the period (hats off again to Pino, he had, after all, studied and worked as a radio engineer), from the thundering opener Heavy heavy heavy to the sweat soaked Afro soco soul live – be prepared to move and groove to Geraldo Pino and the Heartbeats!!!

Available from http://www.retroafric.com.

Author: dave atkin