Most of us are familiar with the phrase, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. In the world of record digging there is a saying that goes quite the opposite. It’s not fool proof, but it proves useful when flipping thru 100s, maybe 1000s, of records and not having time to closely examine each one. For example, quite often I am looking for nice soulful music that has drum heavy backing music. A general safe bet is to find a cover with guys sporting afros that was released between the years of ’73-’76. Odds are you will find something at least decent on there.
However, that is just a quick fix trick and the more famous catch phrase still remains the purest truth. For every album cover that fits your perceived type, you are likely to pass up a great, maybe even greater, number of records whose covers aren’t so obvious. For example, I love Roots Reggae music, but it’s something I mostly listen to on a peaceful walk with my headphones or while on a long drive, so I don’t usually buy it on vinyl. Generally, it is easy to distinguish a Reggae album; song titles, guys with dreadlocks, perhaps some key bright colors and if weed smoking is involved, that helps in a confirmation.
However, had I applied that logic when flipping past Pazy & The Black Hippies “Wa Ho Ha”, then I would have done myself a great disservice. The record is originally a rare pressing from Nigeria that apparently is quite expensive and elusive. Secret Stash Records, in conjunction with Comb & Razor, have scored a reissue on CD and LP.
When you set that needle down on the record (or equivalent action) what you initially hear is no surprise. It fits the cover perfectly. It’s good vibe Reggae Roots styled music. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, on the third track, “Come Back Again” the pace is quickened and goes into an energetic dance groove that could pack the dance floor or clear it, to make room for the B-boys/B-girls. That sentiment carries on for the rest of the record. The music is exciting and fun. On “Papa’s Black Dog” the horns and organ play a call and response game, supported by human dog barks and a chanting of the song title. This is one that you want to dance along with and get animated and become part of the game. “Wa Ho Ha” is like a band theme song and invokes a similar dance feel, this time with the simple hook that makes you want to chant back, “Wa Ho Ha…Hippies!”
Overall, it’s a great record that just feels full of life and some of the grooves can sneak up on you. Here’s an idea, if you are having a get together at home and you are trying to shift people from the silly drunken talk into dance mode, you can throw this on. The first two tracks will function as that Roots Reggae to reach down and start to take control of the soul. Then by the third song they will be loosened up and might just start to find themselves naturally gravitating towards the dance floor area…
Secret Stash strikes again!
Written By Kevin Beacham