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As a special treat Soundway here serve up three courses of Panamanian calypso-funk and Caribbean soul from down on the Isthmus. The 1960s and 70s were fertile times for Panamanian music as Soundway’s three volumes of the much loved Panama! series of compilations has proved. Being the bridge between North and South America, Panama became a melting pot of musical influences, with local bands playing to entertain not only Panamanians, but also the hordes of sailors that passed through the canal from all over the world. Consequently, the Combos Nacionales (as the family of local bands became known) stuffed as many styles as possible into their repertoires from cumbia to salsa, reggae, calypso and funk.
On the A-side Fredrick Clarke’s alter-ego Chombo turns his attention to a belting calypso-soul-funk cut with ‘Soul Chombo’ from his extremely scarce 1972 LP Chombo’s Show. On the B-side we stray more into Northern Soul style territory with another 2 very-hard-to-find cuts originally released only as 45s in Panama at the time. Ralph Weeks is another artist who featured with Fredrick Clarke on Panama! Volume 3 and is perhaps best known for singing with the famous Exciters combo. With his soul cut We’re Still Strong you’d be forgiven for thinking he was based in Miami, New York or Chicago rather than Panama City. Lastly the enigmatic and unknown artist Jungle Rat USA gives us a great piece of Latin tinged dancefloor soul with Just Love One Another, recorded at top Panamanian producer Eduardo ‘Balito’ Chan’s studio in the early 70s.
A1: Soul Chombo - Fredrick Clarke
B1: Just Love One Another - Jungle Rat USA
B2: We're Still Strong - Ralph Weeks
Release/catalogue number: SNDW12008
Release date: May 21, 2012