Mandrill – 1972 – Mandrill Is

Second album (originally released by Polydor in 1972) from the NYC based eclectic funk-outfit, who enriched their style with soul, pop, heavy rock, prog and psychedelic/cosmic elements.

Features the heavy funkhit ‘Ape Is High’, the exquisite soul ballad ‘I Refuse To Smile‘ and the impressive heavy rock anthem ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow‘.

Classic and extremely exciting! 

A1 Ape Is High 5:32
A2 Cohello 1:50
A3 Git It All 4:30
A4 Children Of The Sun 5:00
A5 I Refuse To Smile 4:05
B1 Universal Rhythms 3:24
B2 Lord Of The Golden Baboon 3:33
B3 Central Park 4:05
B4 Kofijahm 3:25
B5 Here Today Gone Tomorrow 4:30
B6 The Sun Must Go Down 3:17

Apparently learning from the mistakes of its debut, Mandrill crafted a follow-up with fewer stylistic detours than the first record, but much more energy and greater maturity. The two singles, “Ape Is High” and “Git It All“, are unhinged performances from all involved that have the sense of musical invigoration so key to a funk band — and so sorely lacking on this band’s debut. “Children of the Sun” is a somber, flute-led piece, much more assured and better-conceived than anything on its first record (it also showed how well Mandrill could’ve done soundtracking a blaxploitation film).

The guitars are much more prominent on Mandrill Is; in fact, both “Git It All” and “Here Today Gone Tomorrow” have passages almost reminiscent of metal’s heavy riffing. The first two compositions from Claude “Coffee” Cave are big successes, “Cohelo” being a traditional Latin form and “Kofijahm” a tribal funk piece. Not everything works, however: the spoken-word piece “Universal Rhythms” is a tad over-ripe, with a raft of unpoetic, pseudo-mystical nonsense over backing from an angelic choir.

From the thickly fuzz toned chicken scratch guitar opening the classic “Ape is High”, Mandrill gets down. Now, there’s a nice bridge with more of that guitar syncopating with the bass, and everybody gets some nice riffs in there, you get some nice Hammond B3 organ action, everybody is working up a sweat, you know what I’m talking about. The killer is how they bring everything to a crescendo. It’s raucous, but it’s tight, exactly like they used to do back in the days of the big bands like Count Basie (Miles Davis’ best fusion band did it with guitarist Pete Cosey on ‘Prelude’ from the ‘Agharta’ set). The horns are blasting, the vocals are chanting “HIGH! HIGH! HIGH!”, and then when the drummer rolls and the whole band just kicks it down the home stretch, the bass drops down real deep and they just BRING IT ON HOME, BABY! I swear, it’s so good you’ll just be a quivering mass of mind-melted goo, but it’s OK because you’ll be laughing and crying tears of joy…then you’ll play it again, you’ll be like “that sound was incredible, I want to hear that again.”

Get it here