Label Spotlight - Mr Bongo

Label Spotlight - Mr Bongo

Mr Bongo is a label we've been a fan of from the very beginning - a rarity in independent music at the forefront of its scene for the past three decades and counting. Their records have been filling our shelves since we opened, and continue to do so with their sustained output of incredible music from across the globe. Through its high quality reissues over the years, the label has cemented itself as the go-to for latin American (particularly Brazilian) music, classic funk & soul gems, disco landmarks and beyond. Driven by an unending quest to discover new unknown classics, the label continues to shape the sound of dancefloors worldwide, exemplifying the borderless and timeless nature of music that truly moves people. Scroll down to check out some Mr Bongo releases that have been funkin things up here at the vault. 

Luke Una - É Soul Cultura Volume 2 | link here.

Brilliant compilation. The second volume of É Soul Cultura curated by the charismatic Manchester based DJ Luke Una. Volume 1's intriguingly woven pattern of new, old, rare and under-discovered music from around the world became the soundtrack to rejuvenated positivity in a post-pandemic world, and volume 2 pushes the fact that moving through genres, tempos and decades can make perfect musical sense when done right. The selection is eclectic, global, and plucked from different times and spaces - glued as a whole thanks to the fine curation and well considered listening journey constructed by Luke Una. Lots of favourites on this one, have a listen!


Various - Hidden Waters: Strange And Sublime Sounds Of Rio De Janeiro | Link here

Another standout compilation released earlier this year on the label. This is an inspiring collection of tunes dedicated to Rio de Janeiro's music scene that has been bursting with creativity and camaraderie over the past decade. Outlining the sound of contemporary Rio and marked by a hybridity that pools the popular and avant-garde, the cutting-edge and carnal, with echoes of everything from Tropicália, samba, disco and Candomblé to lo-fi rock, jazz, bossa nova and experimental electronics. A lovely addition to our Latin Inspired section and definitely worthy of a space in your shelves too. 

Waltel Branco - Meu Balanco | Link here

Great slice of history here from 1975 Brazil, given a new lease of life for today in top form. Flirting between jazz-funk, cinematic library excursions, breaks and beats, easy-listening, and 70s cop show instrumentals, this album features under-the-radar players that were the backbone of the Brazilian music industry in the 1970s including Luizão Maia on bass, Edmundo Maciel on trombone and Paulinho Braga on drums. Check it out if you're into that latin soul-jazz flavour. 

Marxist Love Disco Ensemble – MLDE | Link here


Back to the future here with this new album from 2022 - a fantastic disco record from the group Marxist Love Disco Ensemble. Half poetic, half tongue-in-cheek, this stunning compact eight-track album is influenced by Eastern European and Mediterranean 70s disco records, merging disco, post-disco 80s pop, and boogie into the fold. Recorded using only analogue instruments onto 1/2 inch tape, the entire record sounds warm and spacious, but hits perfect with that modern punch we're used to these days. 


Zito Righi E Seu Conjunto - Alucinolândia | Link here.

What a cover! Check out this highly flavourful 60s gem that mixes samba, MPB, bossa nova, quirky organ-led mod-jazz groovers and easy-listening crooners with a relaxed cool swagger. Zito Righi aka Isidoro Righi, the Brazilian saxophonist, instrumentalist, conductor and composer brought together an illustrious cast for this masterpiece, including the much-loved vocalist Sônia Santos. Definitely one to put the needle on if you need an uplift, a smile or a cheeky dance!


Horace Tapscott Quintet - The Quintet | Link here

Venturing into free jazz territory here with a brilliant outing from pianist Horace Tapscott. We've carried a number of his albums in-store over the years, but this is the first one we've had that was brought to the reissue world by Mr Bongo. As with all releases on the label, the pressing sounds fantastic, fully luring you into this jumpy world of free form expression that meanders onward, picking up bits and pieces along the way, gathering and releasing tension ever so naturally as a unit. Joining Horace for this three-track, deep, heavy, avant-garde session are the same stellar cast featured on 'The Giant Is Awakened'; Arthur Blythe on Alto Sax, Everett Brown Jr on Drums, with David Bryant and Walter Savage Jr. on Bass. Don't overlook this one! 


Mankunku Quartet - Yakhal' Inkomo | Link here

Glinding onto the other end of the jazz spectrum here with a flowly, soulful outing from South African group The Mankunku Quartet. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes of jazz perfection, This album would sit comfortably in amongst some of the best works in the catalogues of any of the quintessential jazz labels such as Blue Note and Impulse!. Definitely one to check out for fans of Coltrane - the whole album is mostly boppy while confidently leaning into spiritual moods ever so slightly. Absolutely brilliant listening experience that deserves more love! All in all, a fantastic reissue from Mr Bongo. 


Arthur Verocai - Arthur Verocai | Link here

No Mr Bongo list from The Analog Vault is complete without a mention of this absolute ESSENTIAL. Although ignored by critics and the public during its initial release in 1972, Arthur Verocai’s balmy and brilliant self-titled debut LP has finally found the recognition it deserves in the 21st century. Revived thanks to sampling from hip-hop crate diggers like MF Doom and Madlib, this resurrected masterpiece is now considered one of the greatest works in the history of Brazilian bossa nova, as it should be. A shimmering saudade of tropicalia, samba and American funk - buoyed by Arthur Verocai’s sumptuous arrangement of a massive 20-piece string section alongside flourishing guitars, pianos, basslines, vocals, brass, synthesisers and percussions - it’s no wonder this coveted Continental release (re-issued by Mr.Bongo) has become something of a holy grail amongst collectors.


Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - Bongo Rock | Link here

Speaking of essentials, this here is the cornerstone of an entire world of music. The first track, Apache, was a staple for the likes of Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash as they invented the art of DJing at the Bronx block parties of the ‘70s. Over the years it has become a hip hop and breakers anthem and is revered as the break of all original breaks, with the rhythms of this LP even helping to coin the term 'breakbeat'. Brilliant and important funk record. History right here! 


Cymande - Promised Heights | Link here.


Speaking of classics, here is the multifaceted album from Cymande - universal appeal all through the record, with timeless rhythms and flow, punctuated with a great message articulated strongly across the 11 tracks. The rhythm section is simply sublime, you can't help but groove along. Hits the perfect balance of funk on the big favourite, 'Brothers on the Slide'. Classic record!


Asha Puthli ‎- Asha Puthli | Link here

Another classic that's quite the staple! Disco and funk lovers, you've got to have this one in your shelves. If you're listening for the first time, there's a good chance you're getting hooked from the very first track, 'Right Down Here' - a cover of J.J. Cale. The whole album is a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul, blues, and disco - the subdued recording of the band combines so well with Puthli's sultry, ethereal vocals that seem to glide over the instrumentation so effortlessly. There's also a cover of 'I Dig Love' by George Harrison on here, injecting Puthli's cheeky, knowing attitude so very well. Put this on and comfortably flow through a range of emotions. 

Teaspoon & The Waves - Teaspoon & The Waves | Link here

Featuring the hit 'Oh Yeh Soweto', this great reissue revels that there is much more magic in this wonderful musician's repertoire to discover. Saxophonist Teaspoon Ndlela has had an amazing and rich musical career. Releasing albums on records labels Soul Jazz Pop, Hit Special, Gallo GRC, alongside working with and writing for South African artists such as Mpharanyana, Stimela, Sipho Gumede and Sgu. He also features on the Paul Simon track 'Gumboots' taken from the iconic 'Graceland' project. The music on this record goes through a fairly wide range of musical styles, whole being rooted in positive energy that is fully meant to get bodies moving. Check it out!



View our entire Mr Bongo catalog here