Clash (magazine) - "Further showcasing the unique mix of the music of Panama...and its 'Combos Nacionales,' groups influenced by the Black Power period in the US and brewing up a heady blend of funk, soul, salsa, cumbia, calypso and more."
Miles Cleret's Soundway Recordings specializes in rescuing rare and forgotten music from around the globe, and this set, the third in the label's Panama! series, focuses on the fascinating pop music that glittered and grooved on the isthmus between 1960 and 1975. It's delightful stuff, a blend of Latin American rhythms, Afro-Cuban soul, and Caribbean calypso, and it's all topped off with a dash of funk, Jamaican mento, and guajira jazz. It's impossible to stay still while listening to tracks like Los Silvertones' horn-grooved "Up Tight" and "Carmen," Ralph Weeks & the Telecasters' blistering "Gua-Jazz," Soul Apollo and Frederick Clarke's dancehall stomper "Chomba Pa' la Tienda," Little Francisco Greaves' wonderful "Moving-Grooving" (this guy sounds like the Panama version of Little Stevie Wonder), and Black Czar's "Bamboo Dance," which sounds like a brilliantly mashed-up bit of island mento gone wonderfully manic. The energy never falters here, and one can't help but be amazed at the vitality of these rare releases. Kudos to Soundway Recordings for bringing this joyous treasure trove to a wider audience. ~ Steve Leggett