The Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band is a German funk music ensemble (founded by members of the Mighty Mocambos says Wikipedia).
Bandleader Björn Wagner lived in Trinidad and Tobago for a time, where he studied steel drums and had one custom made. He then came up with the idea of covering famous tunes with a steel band, accompanied by (as far as we can tell from this one album) a regular electric rock band.
This is their third album, and it’s steel drum covers of classic tunes by the likes of Grace Jones, Minnie Ripperton, Jay Z and Ike Turner, and more.
First off, it’s not a joke record, a garden centre CD collection of kettle drum covers, filed alongside whale music and New Agery. The tracks have soul and groove, though we were a little uncertain until track three Raise It Up’s monster bass line.
The sound covers soul, funk, disco and even hip hop and once you get over the idea of listening to kettle drums not played by enthusiastic teens in a small town carnival parade, it’s very listenable.
We couldn’t really recognise many of the songs, though My Jamaican Dub (based on the Grace Jones song of nearly the same name) is identifiable and a few other familiar melodies leap out.
On the whole you have to take it for what it is – a programme of soul and funk featuring kettle drums. It works far better than it should, but we’d say approach with care.
It’s out on Big Crown Records, find out more here