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Mandrill - Mandrill Is CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Second opus from this fairly long-living NYC septet that released it with more success than their eponymous debut album. Recorded in Hendrix' Electric Ladyland studio over the 71/72 winter, it had a top 40 single to help it as well, called Get It All. Coming with moonlit Mandrill face as front artwork, and superb cosmic representation of the group on the back cover, it also comes with a cosmic black nativity artwork inside.

Aside this superb Git It All hit-track, there are some incredible tracks on Is, like Ape Is High (with its infective horn section), the outstanding Children Of The Sun (with its extra-long instrumental intro), the amazing Lord Of The Golden Baboon with its great constant evolution (if that's not prog, then I don't know what is), the cello then flute-driven Central Park (excellent arrangements), the jungle-escaped jazz-rock Kofijahm (outstanding percussion break), the joyous but guitar-heavy Here Today, Gone Tomorrow and the great finale Sun Must Go Down. You've never haerd an afro-American album like this one before and there haven't been many like these since.

Other tracks take on more Latino beats like the samba/Santana-esque Cohelo (and its lovely flute solo), while other are more soul-ish, like Refuse To Smile, the weirdest being this two-kids debate interrupted by some cosmic spirit called Universal Rhythm (sounding like Moody Blues and completely cheesy, not made for repetitive listening), but these are somewhat lesser tracks in an otherwise filled with nuggets album.

The Collectables Records label that reissues these Mandrill albums certainly do a superb job, and with such albums as Mandrill Is, or Cymande's debut album, they are unearthing some real gems in progressive ethnic music of the early 70's that didn't have War or Osibisa's chance. RUN FOR IT !!!!!

Report this review (#193348)
Posted Monday, December 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second album of possibly most progressive funk band from early 70-s. With new bassist, band recorded that album with more jazz-rock elements, including some heavy guitar riffing. Still heavily based on funk, the album includes r'n'b, jazz-rock and Latin jazz almost in equal proportions. Plus some blues and psychedelia.

Compositions varies from Santana-like Latin percussion filled nice sambas, to heavy Brooklyn funk, to early jazz-rock guitar -led pieces. But main ingredient is Wilson brothers brass trio, all other sounds are just turning around.

Differently from other more straightforward funk bands of their time, Mandrill music is build far not only around rhythm. Nice melodies, some experimental (to time) sounds and constructions. Not everything goes successfully there: some speaking vocals or lightweight danceable rhythms don't add too much for band's mix.

But in whole, I believe this album is really interesting and successful evidence of progressive funk searches in early 70-s.

Report this review (#281140)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. MANDRILL were a seven piece band out of Brooklyn, New York who combine many styles of music. The Wilson brothers add sax, trombone and trumpet along with vocals. For my tastes in music this is just too all over the place. Funny but I'll be enjoying a section and guaranteed it will change before too long. The music is very accessible and commercial sounding at times, and I think they made a living doing this considering how many times this second album of theirs has been re-issued. I'm really not into the blasting horns or the soulful vocals but then they'll offer up some tasty music that I really enjoy.

I find this to be a step up from the debut, just not as many cringe worthy moments. And while I can't come up with a top three I do really enjoy "KofiJahm" and the keyboardist's nickname is "Coffee". This is the only track that there's not something that bugs me. An instrumental with vibes, claps and beats early as flute joins in. Multi-vocals and lots of percussions at 1 1/2 minutes. Just a cool sounding tune without vocals or horns dominating. "Ape Is High" deserves a mention. I mean this is funny stuff. Lame would be the lyrics for "Git It All" I mean for 1971 you could get away with this. Then they get all false spiritual on us with "Universal Rhythm" with children speaking to open and close it. "Here Today Gone Tomorrow" is one of the better ones. Powerful with active drums and some great sounding organ. I like the flute and guitar as well.

Like the debut 3.5 stars is all I can give.

Report this review (#2490958)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2021 | Review Permalink

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