Hailing from Trinidad, Black Truth Rhythm Band were a large ensemble fronted by vocalist Oluko Imo. Their sound was different to a lot of music circulating in this region at the time as it avoided looking to American popular music for influence – so many bands were drawing from US funk & James Brown for their sound. Instead they looked to African sources like Afrobeat and other similar styles on the continent for inspiration (the group’s members even took African names).
Deeply influenced by Fela, Sonny Okosun, and Ebo Taylor, BTRB created a hybrid sound that drew on the new African music, mixing rhythms from Africa and the West Indies, as well as the regional vocal stylings of other Caribbean nations. Their individual fusions of funk, jazz, soul, calypso and Afro-beat was delivered on their one and only album, Ifetayo, released in 1976 – which remained underground and out of print for years….until Soundway Records got hold of it and re-issued the album for the first time on CD, vinyl and digital.
I don’t know why the Black Truth Rhythm Band split after recording only one album, maybe it didn’t get the coverage it so greatly deserved at the time? After BTRB disbanded, Oluko Imo went on to sing with Fela’s Egypt 80 band…
Umbala was the first track I heard from this album! I love the slow, steady pace, call and response vocals. the deliciously subtle blend of Caribbean steel drum/percussive rhythms and solid funk groove that simmers away throughout. Check it out above and listen/purchase the rest of the album from here.
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