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Mandrill Mandrill album cover
3.88 | 29 ratings | 4 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mandrill (4:20)
2. Warning Blues (4:33)
3. Symphonic Revolution (5:22)
4. Rollin' On (7:41)
5. Movement I (1:50)
6. Movement II (1:45)
7. Movement III (2:15)
8. Movement IV (6:05)
9. Movement V (2:05)
10. Chutney (3:07)

Total Time 39:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Bundie Cenac / bass, percussion, vocals
- Charles Padro / drums & percussion, vocals
- Carlos Wilson / flute, trombone, guitar, vocals, percussion
- Claude Cave / organ, piano, vibraphone, percussion, vocals
- Ric Wilson / tenor saxophone, vocals, percussion
- Omar Mesa / lead guitar, vocals, percussion
- Lou Wilson / trumpet, flugelhorn, congas, vocals, percussion

Releases information

LP: Polydor #2425 049 (Canada), Polydor 24-4050 (US, 1971),Polydor 2489 028 (UK, 1971)

CD: Collectables COL 6002 (1989,US)

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MANDRILL Mandrill ratings distribution

(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MANDRILL Mandrill reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

This fairly long-living NYC septet that was created in the wake once Santana opened the floodgates at the turn of the decade with ethnic music, beit Latin, jazz-blues, African or Afro-American soul/funk and staying adventurous, at least in their early careers: such as Demon Fuzz, Osibisa, Cymande, Malo, War (with & without Burdon) and Assagai, just to name a few. But Mandrill had that little special extra, between Santana, Chicago Transit Authority and a touch of Traffic along with some furious funk and AfroAmerican, as well as Central American musics. As a matter of fact, the band originating from NY qualified Nu Yorican (contraction between NY and Puerto Rico.

The centre of the band are the Wilson Brothers, Louis "Sweet Lou", Richard 'Dr Ric" and Carlos "Mad Dog" (not Denis 'The Menace", Bryan "The Isolated" and Carl "Mad Cat" who lied on the Beach with the Boys), who all frequented the school music band in high school, then in the military forces. But they were assisted of four more musicians who were no less erudite and in between the seven of them, they were able to play up to 20 instruments. The band was already existing in 69, and by 71, they were signed by Polydor and released their eponymous debut that same year and reached the first quarter of the billboard despite unusually long instrumental breaks and virtuosity display rather un-common in black pop music (jazz & blues excepted of course).

The first album was really in the wave of its time presenting a five movement suite and two longer tracks, often mixing all kinds of styles of music. Anything was a fair game as long as it sounded good, and these guys had no problems making everything sound good. Right off the bat, the eponymous track is a real corker, rivalling with Santana's Soul Sacrifice and Traffic's Freedom Rider, twisting your head all around as there are so many things happening left, right and centre. Rollin In is rather more between Santana and Auger's Oblivion Express and remains that way until the fourth minute, when they veer towards Salsa for the next two minutes and return to a wild funk to the closure. Newcomers to Mandrill have certainly already looked at the track list and noticed Symphonic Revolution, and the track's name is maybe slightly deceptive, since it's mostly a soul track with lush string arrangements whenever they see it fit, most notably in the middle section amid softer vocals, flute and vibes, the strings come very close to cheesy, as often the AfroAmerican would do in most of their music >> I think it's called the Philadelphia Sound. The other real highlight is the Love And Peace 5-movement suite, which is really THE track of the album. This monster takes us through the guts of the group and what it had to say about the tragic events of the 60's and the civil rights movement AND the Nam situation and there are many chilling moments and brilliantly written expressive and dramatic situations. A few spine chills are not excluded here, especially around the fourth movement, Encounter; ending in a sonic electric explosion; while the last one called Beginning is mostly percussions disappearing into the wild after the explosion.

Although Mandrill's debut is a particularly fine fusion album, it's probably not as successful or as brilliant as its follow-up Mandrill Is, but it would be almost unforgivable not to at least give this one a shot first.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Progressive Rock with an African flavor. I can remember the first time I saw Mandrill on TV back in the early 70s; I was totally captured, not only by the music, but by the colorful appearance of this ensemble and the incredible number of instruments they could play. Early Mandrill was always an extended exotic fantasy of sprawling progressive arrangements featuring horns, percussion, screaming guitar solos, quiet mysterious flute passages, virtuoso keyboards and massive vocal choirs. This being Mandrill's first record, it is probably their most progressive and ambitious, but it is also the one that belongs the most with the time period from which it came.

Side two is probably the side of most interest to the prog-rock crowd with it's side long five movement 'Peace and Love'. This is late 60s/early 70s grandiose musical vision at it's most excessive as the Mandrill crew takes on almost any musical style imaginable from dark and gothic mystery to bright optimistic world jazz. The lyrics don't hold back either as Mandrill unfolds a tale of Biblical proportions that deals with love, peace, the future of mankind and other unfathomable mysteries. This side sounded incredible back in the day, but I'm not sure if it has aged well into the new century. If you take this music as a reflection of the time period in which it was created, then there is much to enjoy here.

If dated hippie pretensions undermine the lofty ambitions of the 'proggy' side two, side one is still one hundred percent right on with it's more streetwise mix of funk, jazz, soul, rock and world beat. Signature tune 'Mandrill' kicks things off with some energetic Afro-Latin rock that may remind some of Santana. Another highlight of this side, 'Symphonic Revolution', is the perfect Sunday afternoon jam with it's mellow mix of jazz, soul, strings and soaring vocal harmonies. It sounds like early Earth Wind & Fire might have gotten some inspiration from this one.

Once a landmark album, the ravages of time have made parts of this album seem a bit kitschy and excessive, yet if you like late 60s/early 70s culture and progressive African hippie music, it does not get any better than this.

Latest members reviews

3 stars An adequate album. The only standout track on the first side is Symphonic Revolution which I found somewhat memorable. The second side is mostly the sidelong plus one short ditty. The suite is fine in the first half but the last two movements have horrible vocals which make the track not particu ... (read more)

Report this review (#2569860) | Posted by Beautiful Scarlet | Wednesday, June 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars According to the liner notes, this album was recorded in the winter of 1970. This is fairly astounding given the fact that it would make this one of the earliest (if not the first ever) incidence of a side-long, multi-movement, progressive rock suite. The piece in question being side two's Peace and ... (read more)

Report this review (#913382) | Posted by PROGMAN1 | Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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