SURINAM! BOOGIE AND DISCO FUNK FROM THE SURINAMESE DANCE FLOORS ’76-83.

SURINAM! BOOGIE AND DISCO FUNK FROM THE SURINAMESE DANCE FLOORS ’76-83.

All too often, when compilers decide to compile an album of disco, boogie and funk, they stick to what I’d call tried and tested tracks. They’re hardly adventurous, and as a result, far too many compilations of predictable, if not boring compilations are released.Granted their are exceptions to this rule.

Indeed, BBE Music have released  compilations like Sadar Presents Soul In the Hole, Private Wax and The Best of Disco Demands. Then there was Under The Influence Volume 1-Compiled By Red Greg and Deep Disco and Boogie Volume 1, compiled by Zaf Chowdry and released on the Dutch label Kindred Spirits. Now ten months after Kindred Spirits released Deep Disco and Boogie Volume 1, they’ve released a new compilation, which sees them dig even deeper, in their quest to discover some rare, fantastically funky and dance floor friendly music. The result is Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. For anyone yet to discover the delights of vintage Surinamese music, then the ten tracks on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83 are the perfect primer.

For anyone whose knowledge of geography and political history, is somewhat lacking and I include myself, a quick geography and history lesson is needed before I tell you about the music on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. Surinam, which borders French Guyana, Guyana and Brazil, only gained independence from the Netherlands on 25th November 1975. Before that, it was a colony of the Netherlands. Roughly half-a-million people inhabit Surinam, with 350,000 other people of Surinamese descent. Many of these people live in the Netherlands. Even during Dutch rule, Surinam had a thriving and vibrant musical scene. 

Since gaining independence, the Surinamese music scene has thrived and continued to grow. Best known for Kawina and soul music, Surinam music encompasses all things jazzy, soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly. Between 1976-1983, Surinam produced much music that crossed over, becoming popular during the boogie and disco eras. These tracks were discovered by determined crate-diggers and people of Surinamese descent. They took these hidden gems and soon they found a wider audience. They were spun them in clubs across Europe, American and further afield. This resulted in artists like Erwin Bouterse and The Group Roetoe, Sumy and Solat being heard outside Surinam for the first time. Nowadays, these obscure tracks are becoming increasingly rare and harder to find. So for anyone wanting to discover the delights of Surinamese music from between 1976-1983, you two options. Either mortgage your house and purchase some of these tracks, or for those with a budget to consider and a family to feed, pick up a copy of Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83, which I’ll now pick the highlights of.

Funk meets disco on Alwin Reingoud’s Sweet Dream, which opens Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. Keyboards, blazing horns and the funkiest of bass lines unite to create an irresistibly catchy track. The rhythm section provides a pounding funky backdrop, while Alwin’s vocal is akin to a slice of sunshine. Harmonies accompany his vocal, keyboards, chiming guitars and growling horns unite to create a track that’s three of the most enjoyable minutes you spend listening to music. Timeless, dance-floor friendly and gloriously uplifting describes this track. Sadly, Alwin’s career was cut short when he’d to join the army. Only five-hundred copies of this hidden gem were pressed, so copies are extremely rare.

Erwin Bouterse And The Group Roetoe have two tracks on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. These are Disco Party and Groovy Weekend. Disco Party is a driving slice of horn driven funk, that explodes into life. From the opening bars, it’s an explosive melting pot of influences. Funk, disco, Afrobeat and Latin music. All this is here and much more. Percussion aplenty, a driving, furiously funky rhythm section, grizzled horns and Erwin’s vocal combine. As the vocal changes hands, a soaring falsetto enters. Soon it’s funky vamp, before banks of keyboards give way to a frenzied percussive break. It’s a glorious combination, one that’s a call to dance and hedonism. Groovy Weekend is slower, but there’s no let up in sheer funkiness. Wah-wah guitars, a pounding bass and keyboards are joined by percussion and Erwin’s shamanistic vocal. Like Disco Party, it’s a track where musical genres unite, becoming one. It could only have been recorded in the seventies. Despite this, it’s stood the test of time. Sadly, Erwin’s music was rejected by EMI and maybe, somewhat belatedly, his music will find a wider, more appreciative audience.

Solat feature twice on the compilation, with Try, Try, Try and You Are Gonna Miss Me which features Billy Jones. Try, Try, Try is the best of the two tracks, where soul and funk unite, for three magical minutes. Again, funky is a good description of the arrangement. So is punchy, spacious and flowing. The rhythm section, keyboards, percussion and rasping horns combine with deeply soulful and heartfelt vocals. Billy delivers the lead, while female vocalists who sound as if they belong on a seventies Philly Soul track add harmonies. Although deeply soulful and funky, it’s a track that’s dance-floor friendly. You Are Gonna Miss Me has a similar fusion of funk and funk. Billy’s vocal is soulful and sassy, while the arrangement is uber funky. Blazing horns, a myriad of percussion and a pounding rhythm section are as funky as Billy is soulful and sassy.

Sumy have a trio of tracks on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. They’re Funkin In Your Mind, Going Insane and Soul With Milk a track from Sumy’s Trying To Survive album. Of the three tracks, my favorite is Funkin In Your Mind. Just chiming guitars, stabs of keyboards and a slapped bass combine as the track takes on a slightly, experimental sound. Washes of synths and bursts of harmonies combine, as Sumy showcases what could be described as a space-age funk sound. He raps the vocal, his tongue poked firmly in his cheek, with dramatic harmonies and stabs of keyboards for company. While this is quite different from previous tracks, it shows Sumy to be an artist keen to push musical boundaries. The same can be said of Soul WIth Milk which also has an experimental sound. There’s shades of David Axelrod, Dexter Wansel and many more musical innovators and pioneers in Sumy’s music. Surprises aplenty in store for the listener during a track that shows another side to Surinamese music.

Thunderstorm’s Here’s To You is one of the highlights of Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. It’s one of the most soulful tracks on the compilation. Written by Randy Muller and originally recorded by Skyy on Salsoul. This seems apt, given arrangement’s Salsoul influence. Shivering, swirling strings, rasping horns, a spacious, yet funky rhythm section and keyboards accompanying a vocal that reminds me of Delegation or The Real Thing. Tight harmonies sweep in, and are a contrast to the impassioned vocal. When all this is combined, it brings new life to a familiar track. The result is a jaunty, bounding track, one with a real feel-good sound. Given the sound, you’d think it was recorded by an American band, not a Surinamese one. It just shows, music transcends geographical boundaries.

Usje Sukatma’s Waiting For Your Love closes Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. Thunderous drums, percussion and wah-wah guitars combine with a lilting, joyous vocal. It’s heartfelt and soulful. This irresistible arrangement almost bounces along, spreading happiness in its wake. Keyboards and a vocoder are added, giving the track a boogie sound. As boogie and soul unite with funk, the result is a slice of downright funky music. It’s a sound that’s like a slice of musical sunshine, and it’s impossible not to succumb to its charms and delights. It seems the perfect way to close Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83.

Of all the compilations I’ve reviewed recently, Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83 is quite simply, one of the best. Not only is it the perfect introduction to Surinamese music, but it’ll have you searching high and low, and far and wide for similar compilations. Sadly, this is the only compilation of its type. Kindred Spirits deserve the utmost credit for unearthing ten glittering, hidden gems and bringing them to a wider audience. When many of these tracks were released, they were either in small quantities, or to an audience that failed appreciate their charms and delights. Thankfully, people’s musical tastes are more discerning and adventurous. I’m sure that anyone who likes their musical soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly will appreciate the ten tracks on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. Many of these tracks have stood the test of time. They’d still fill a dance-floor even over thirty-years later. I’m sure not only will people who enjoy Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83 dig deeper into the delights of Surinamese music, but will hungrily await Volume Two. Let’s just hope the good people at Kindred Spirits are working on it already. Until then, you can savor the ten tracks on Surinam! Boogie and Disco Funk From The Surinamese Dance Floors ’76-83. Standout Tracks: Erwin Bouterse And The Group Roetoe Disco Party, Solat Try, Try, Try, Thunderstorm Here’s To You and Usje Sukatma Waiting For Your Love.

SURINAM! BOOGIE AND DISCO FUNK FROM THE SURINAMESE DANCE FLOORS ’76-83.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: