Saturday, July 08, 2006

Africa - Music From Lil' Brown (1968)

There's some very soulful psychedelia--or is it psychedelic soul--on this slab of vinyl. From the opening of the 1st song (Paint It Back) this is clearly a keeper--the song starts with some Latin percussion (nice set of congas) & a few well placed guitar chords. Then it adds a soulful electric guitar to carry the melody, a bass break, some weird laughing & what sound like a guy popping his mouth with his finger. There are a few vocal snippets (some seem to be in Spanish but I can't really tell since they're not all that clear). Later you do get some other vocals that are clearly distinguishable in the mix: some of the nah-nah-nah chorus, a "paint it black" chant, someone singing about being "out of my mind," a bit of the rest of the chorus ("I see a red door..."), and the some signing ("the old lady sure looks good to me") that I'm pretty sure belongs to another song (although I can't recall the name of it at the moment). Really though it's the instruments that carry the song--all very laid back and hip and both soulful and trippy. The rest of the record doesn't disappoint although Paint it Black remains my favorite track. You also get covers of Light my Fire and a Louie-Louie/Ode to Billy Joe medley that really hits the spot. Some cool orginals as well: a soulful Here I Stand & the funky Widow. Throughout there's plenty of cool rhythm breaks and some fine guitar work.

You may have noticed that artwork & title reference The Band's Music From Big Pink but it does seem the Lil' Brown was a real place. Group member Rip Spencer notes (in an article on the Valiants, linked below), "We used to rehearse at Gary Pipkin's house and he had this little brown shack, a playhouse in the back yard, for his kids."

The core group of Africa started their music career as members of the doo-wop band the Valiants--there's a great history of their various transformations available on the Web here.

This album was produced by Lou Adler and released on Ode records (a subsidiary of Columbia). It was, unfortunately, their only release. However, a second album's worth of material was recorded for MGM but never issued--another music industry crime since if it's half as good as this I'd rush out and buy a copy. You can't get this album on CD (another crime) but you can download it here.

Next week I'll be posting Bobby Jameson' Working album from 1968, which was requested by TBA on his/her great blog: Palestinian Light Orchestra

In coming weeks I'll also be posting the soundtrack to Angel, Angel Down We Go & Kathe Green's Run the Length of Your Wildness. I'm trying to keep a steady pace of 1 record a week so as not to burnout. If you like what you hear or have any requests please leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Daddy, I can't find my keys. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Where can I get this recording?

Max said...

Hi Mark,
I only post records that are out-of-print and not available on CD. That said, your best bet is to keep an eye on ebay where copies come up for sale from time to time. There are also used record stores that will charge a bit more than you'd pay at auction (you can find a couple by searching google for this title) or you can try a call to my favorite used record store (although I haven't been there in years) Princeton Record Exchange (
Hope that helps.

Unknown said...


Have you found where to get at least an MPEG of the record? My original was thrown out by an irate wife after searching for it for 5 years.


Max said...


An MPEG is a movie file so I'm not entirely sure to what your referring, but if you want an MP3 file I would be happy to repost this here since the link (on the word "here") is down. Is this a request for a repost?


Max said...

The file has been reupped on massmirror. Just click the link.

Unknown said...

it isn't there no more Max. maybe you would upload again... please? :D

Max said...

Hi Denny,
I think mass mirror was having some problems for a week or 2 but it seems to be OK today. Try the link again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for digging up this hard-to-find gem! Unclassifiable, but all the better for it.

Mantanhattan said...

as of 12:55am eastern 18 July 2009this album is available on eBay by some seller who grades the condition as VG+.
Price is right at $9.99.
Here's the URL:

I already have my own copy of this gem in my collection that is at least in VG+ ...I was hoping to find a copy in MINT.
I understand that people in Hell want ice water.
Thanks to original blogger for back info on the band. Never knew they were formerly The Valiants.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea wether you will read im commenting on an old post, but had to say this blog is great and i had no idea that africa had recorded another album... mgm should be ashamed! these guys were unique and totally amazing...