Review: Barrabas, Wild Safari
Barrabas was a Santana-influenced Spanish dance/funk/rock group that broke out on the international dance scene when their tune “Woman” became very popular in the NYC underground dance world, most notably at David Mancuso’s Loft. “Wild Safari”, their first album, is still in print and it contains “Woman”. The group split in 1977, regrouped for a couple of albums in the early ’80s and then hung it up for good.
Some of the music on “Wild Safari” still holds up surprisingly well. The album opener and title track is a case in point. With a rich stew built from a strong rhythmic bass groove with hand percussion, chanted vocals (in English) and a solid organ line, it cooks. Other tracks on the album such as “Cheer Up” with it’s dated flute lead steer periously close to the insipid blandness of soft jazz. “Only For Men” sounds like it could have easily been part of the latin rock suite on side one of Stephen Still’s first “Manassas” album. Both “Manassas” and “Wild Safari” were released in 1972 and it makes you wonder if at least some of the members of each group were familiar with the other’s work. Listening with today’s ears “Woman” seems fairly unexceptionable. Why this particular track rather than several others on the album held such an appeal as dance music seems something of a mystery.
For the most part “Wild Safari” is of historical interest only. “Woman” was a big hit at The Loft, The Gallery and The Paradise Garage and listeners who are deeply into the ’70s underground dance scene might well want the album in order to have the song. If your interest is in latin rock with an occasional very light jazz influence groups like Santana and Mandrill might be a better choice.
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