The 70’s’: more than a turbulent point of uncertainty in American society, it was also a time of awakening; a period when mankind was beginning to truly appreciate his kinship with others unlike himself.
Back then, we’d come to realize that if we couldn’t get along together, we’d probably wind up destroying ourselves as well as the planet. That realization afforded a sense of promise to everything and that promise was exhibited in the music of the time.
Bands, born from the wombs of blended communities across the country, came together to celebrate their multi-cultural roots pushing music into an unknown stratosphere of unity. R&B, Jazz, Country and Rock melded with African, Latin and other ethnic influences to create a sound that we now call World Music. And no group from that period exhibited this cultural, complex marriage more than Mandrill.
It’d been sometime since I’d regaled myself with the music of the Lord of the Golden Baboon; my past entreaties having come from vinyl and having since been lost for one reason or another. Recently though, I was able to reacquaint myself with the sound and found it to be all that I remembered.
It was easy to fall back into the cadences of the past. The same explosive, harmonic horns were there along with the driving tempo of African and Island drums, the hard rock guitar so out-of-place in this music of the hood yet so very appropriate alongside the underlying tonal offering of the B3 Hammond, a quintessential instrument of the period.
It’s funny and telling how easily you reconnect with that which you hadn’t heard in more than a few decades. Even on the edge of such a span, I found myself humming this chorus or horn arrangement or tapping a percussive beat as if it were only yesterday that I’d originally heard them.
It’s funny because on the one hand, you can go back to your roots; change and growth are not prohibitive from doing so. It’s also funny because Mandrill has never really gone away. They’ve always been with us, indicative in the samplings of their sound taken by some of the top artists of today.
And for me, it’s telling because it made me realize that we are what we were, in spite of our age, income or where we happen to be right now in our lives. We’re all still the same, the ape is still high and I’m still a child of the sun. Hang loose.