REVIEW: Tiger’s Milk Records’ Peru Bravo
When it comes to collecting older music, particularly on vinyl, compilations can be your best friend. There are countless artists who released a single 45 (often with little notice), before fading into obscurity. Modern collectors end up hoarding the few copies pressed and more modest collectors (such as myself) end up having to pay exorbitant prices to hear these lost gems. So, when I came across an album titled Peru Bravo: Funk, Soul & Psych from Peru’s Radical Decade, my curiosity was piqued. What previously inaccessible prizes would be within this release? Quite a few it turns out.
Tiger’s Milk has made a name for themselves issuing forgotten and underexposed gems from around Peru and this collection does the late ’60s and early ’70s era of Peruvian music justice. These tracks were recorded during a brutal military dictatorship lasting from 1968 to 1975. Peru Bravo is a labor of love from Martin Morales (Ceviche), Duncan Ballantyne (Ex-Soundway) and Andrés Tapia del Rio (Repsychled Records). So, onto a few of my personal favorites from the compilation.
While the majority of the tracks are more rooted in psych than any of the other genres advertised in the title, there are a few tracks on here that might find a home among fans of Stax or Motown. Take Thee Image’s “Outasite” which seems as though it’d fit right alongside The Contours or Don Covay. Those smooth-as-butter vocal harmonies are an unmistakable trademark of that ’60s R&B sound, but the guitar that bursts out at the end of the track is what makes this one standout.
The rest of the selections are decidedly more rocking, which is just fine by me. The track that kicks off the album, Laghonia’s “Bahia,” is a damned good introduction to the album. There’s a bit of all the styles advertised in the title present here: a classic psych guitar line (and later solo), a soulful vocal delivery and those funky drums keeping the track moving.
“Sungaligali” from Telegraph Avenue hints at some of the Tropicalia that must have surely been trickling into the country. Of course, it’s something completely distinct from that genre. The singer’s cries of “What’s going on?” giving way to an odd Love-esque interlude before picking back up again and eventually returning to the original towering guitar riff.
Of course, I’m no expert on Peruvian music. That’s sort of the beauty of this compilation: Tiger’s Milk has done a lot of the legwork for the listener. Presented here are a beautiful selection of songs that seem to be a pretty fair and wide-reaching representation of the underground Pervuian music scene at the time. You can pick up Peru Bravo: Funk, Soul & Psych from Peru’s Radical Decade over at the label’s Bandcamp page.