V/A – Panama! Latin, Funk and Calypso on the Isthmus 1965-75

Soundway Records are best known for their crate-diggin’ compilations of African music. So can they pull off the same trick of releasing meticulously researched and beautifully re-mastered records but of a Latin tinge? ¡Claro que si!


The late sixties and early seventies in Panama were a turbulent time dominated by the father of Panama’s current president, Omar Torrijos. A pretty ruthless dictator on one hand, Omar Torrijos was also beloved of the poor and one of the few Central American leaders to stand up to Uncle Sam and get away with it. He even wrested control of the canal off the world’s most powerful nation.
While Politically Panama was standing on its own two feet, musically, if this compilation is representative, there was an explosion of Latin rhythms supercharged by deep funk. James Brown’s ‘Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud’ message would have resonated deeply here among Panama’s huge underclass. Think Nu Yorica Soul, but with even more soul and even heavier Latin licks somehow. Criminally overlooked by music lovers, this small strip of land and water that connects Central American and South America was on fire.
On top of those two influences, we can hear Jamaica coming through strong. Jamaican music came to Latin America through the canal workers who arrived at the turn of the last century and it clearly never left if ‘Old Buzzard’ by the Silvertones is anything to go by. This reggae/Latin kick would of course keep developing and turn into the monster sound of urban Latinos everywhere, reggaeton.
Essential listening.
V/A – Panama! Latin, Funk and Calypso on the Isthmus 1965-75 will be released on Soundways Records (Cat no: SNDWCD/LP007) on 28 March (Europe & Canada) and 4 April (US).
Tracks:
Los Exagerados – Panama Esta Bueno Y Ma – 5:17
The Exciters – Exciters Theme – 3:46
Bush Y Sus Magnificos – Nana Nina – 2:59
Victor Boa Y Su Musica – Soy Solo Para Ti – 4:10
Freddy Y Su Afro Latinos – Maltrato – 5:59
Papi Brandao Y Su Ejecutivos – Viva Panama – 3:09
Los Silvertones – Old Buzzard – 3:05
Los Fabulosos Festivals – El Mensaje – 3:30
The Exciters – New Bag – 6:26
Bolita y Su Tentacion Latina – Descarga Tentacion – 8:31
Los Caballeros de Colon – Con Los Caballeros – 3:07
Los Dinamicos Exciters – Let me do my Thing – 3:24
Los Mozambiques – Viva Tirado – 4:33
Maximo Rodriguez Y Sus Estrella Panamenas – Mambologia – 4:00
Lord Cobra and Pana Afro Sounds – Rocombey – 3:41

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One thought on “V/A – Panama! Latin, Funk and Calypso on the Isthmus 1965-75

  1. I grew up with this music. My choice is ‘Old Buzzard’ by the Silvertones. This is a very inclusive cd. The Exciters dominated Panamanian music for most of the 1970’s. In my opinion the man that started reggaeton is on this cd and that is Lord Cobra.

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