Several years ago I had my musical gland squeezed in the middle of the night by a track played on Charlie Gillett's show for the BBC World Service. He was playing a selection of tracks that first made the West aware of other musics, antecedents for what we call world music. The one that made me sit bolt upright, switch the light on and write the details down so I could buy a copy was Soul Makossa by Manu Dibango. It has a couple of killer funk-soul hooks but with this great spacey loose funk groove that was unlike any of the American funk or soul I knew.
That was the clue that 70s soul wasn't just an American affair, that there was stuff around the world that would be every bit as rich, dirty and face-twistingly funky.
Earlier this year my dear friend the venerable Gyrus sent me a copy of Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79. Like most various artist compilations it's not of consistent calibre, but fuck me when the spectrum ranges from the good to utter riproarers that's no bad thing.
Then more recently I found this page of 70s Iranian funk. Who'd have thunk the funk would be out that far? The authorities banned pop music in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution, but it seems up till then there was some magnificent stuff being made and played in Iran. As an extra reason to hate their vicious regime, the Iranian funk page gives us a clue to what musical talent has been suppressed.
Weirdest of all is the version of Hava Nagila, a traditional Hebrew tune of celebration. Iranians doing an African-American style version of a Jewish tune. It'd be worth hearing just for the on-paper incongruous nutness of it, but play it and hear that it stands tall and firm on its own merits too.
This, in turn, sent me off to dig out the version I already have, an equally improbable early 1960s Tarantino style surf guitar version done by a Swedish band who wore spacesuits on stage.
download Hava Nagila (3.4MB MP3)